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Progressive Christianity Australia

Speakers

 

WELCOME TO BRISBANE & THE CONFERENCE

Fr John M Dobson OAM - John Dobson is the Chancellor of the University of the Sunshine Coast. He was the Parish Priest of Caloundra Parish between 1982 and 2012, and the Dean of the North Coast Deanery within the Catholic Church from 1992 to 2012.

His contributions to the community include founding privately-funded residential care facilities for the aged and for people with intellectual disabilities; and co-funding a retirement village.

Mr Dobson has also contributed to the establishment of a comprehensive college (in partnership with the Uniting Church); and has been responsible for creating dedicated support groups for prisoners and their families.

Mr Dobson has been a member of the University Council since 1997, and was elected Chancellor in March 2007 for an inaugural term from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2012 and in December 2011 was reappointed from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2017.

WELCOME TO COUNTRY

Sam Watson Jr is of the Munnenjarl and Bin Gubba tribal nations; an Aboriginal Elder based in Brisbane who has been an activist for more than forty years. He is a renowned poet, playwright and film maker. Among many leadership positions he has been Chair of the Brisbane Aboriginal Legal Service and Deputy Director of the ATSI Studies Unit.

 
MAJOR PUBLIC LECTURES

Dr Diana Butler Bass - Diana Butler Bass is an author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture.

She holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of nine books, including Grounded: Finding God in the World—A Spiritual Revolution (HarperOne, 2015) and the widely influential Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening (HarperOne, 2012).  Her other books include A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story (HarperOne, 2009), nominated for a Library of Virginia literary award, and the best-selling Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (2006) which was named as one of the best religion books of the year by Publishers Weekly and was featured in a cover story in USA TODAY.

Diana regularly speaks at conferences, consults with religious organizations, leads educational events for religious leaders, and teaches and preaches in a variety of venues.  She writes at The Huffington Post and The Washington Post and comments on religion, politics, and culture in the media including USA TODAY, Time, Newsweek, CBS, CNN, FOX, PBS, and NPR.

From 2002 to 2006, she was the Project Director of a national Lilly Endowment-funded study of mainline Protestant vitality—a project featured in Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, and the Los Angeles Times.

Dr. Butler Bass is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize of the American Society of Church History and an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from The General Theological Seminary in New York.  She also serves on the board of Public Religion Research and is an advisor on the project for a National Museum of American Religion in Washington, D.C.

Additionally, Dr. Butler Bass has taught at Westmont College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Macalester College, Rhodes College, and the Virginia Theological Seminary in subjects ranging from church history, American religious history, history of Christian thought, to religion and politics, religion and race, and congregational studies.

She and her family live in Alexandria, Virginia.

 

Professor Pamela Eisenbaum - One of four Jewish New Testament scholars teaching in Christian theological schools in USA, Pamela Eisenbaum is Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Origins at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.  She is the author of The Jewish Heroes of Christian History: Hebrews 11 in Literary Context, Invitation to Romans and most recently, Paul Was Not a Christian.  She is a contributor to the Women’s Bible Commentary and the Jewish Annotated New Testament, and has published many essays on the Bible, ancient Judaism and the origins of Christianity.  Two of her greatest professional passions are the apostle Paul and ancient manuscripts, and her current research involves the role of technology (ancient and modern) in the codification, preservation, and transmission of the Bible.  In addition to her appointment at Iliff, she is an affiliate faculty member of the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver.  

 

Dr Val Webb - Val (Skerman) Webb's career spans three countries and occupations as diverse as microbiology, business, public relations, art and religious studies.  She holds a graduate degree in Science (microbiology) from the University of Queensland and a Ph.D. in Theology from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.  Born and educated in Brisbane, Val lived almost thirty years in the United States where her husband Maurice was a surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.  During a period in Brisbane in the 1980's, Val held state and national positions in the Uniting Church in Australia, including Chair of the Queensland Synod Board for Education and Communication, and Superintendent of Communications and Resources for The Wesley Hospital. 

Val has taught religious studies and world religions at universities in the United States and Australia and has written eleven books, including Florence Nightingale: the making of a radical theologian; In Defence of Doubt: an invitation to adventure; and Stepping out with the Sacred: human attempts to engage the Divine.  Her book Like Catching Water in a Net: human attempts to describe the Divine won the "religion" category of the 2007 Best Books USA Awards.  Val's latest book is Testing Tradition and Liberating Theology: finding your own voice (2015)

She has recently completed two speaking tours of progressive groups in the UK and continues her writing and speaking engagements here and overseas from her home in Mudgee, NSW where she and Maurice own an award-winning guesthouse run by one of their three children.

 

KEYNOTE ADDRESSES

Rev David Felten - David Felten is Pastor at Fountains United Methodist Church, Fountain Hills, Arizona. A native of Phoenix, David received a music education degree from Arizona State University before attending Boston University School of Theology where he earned his MDiv in Biblical Studies and History. Before completing Chaplaincy training at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, David spent a year studying as a Rotary Graduate Scholar at Perth Theological Hall of Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia where he received an Honours degree.

David spent eight years as Associate Pastor and Co-pastor at Epworth United Methodist in West Phoenix and was appointed to start a new church in the Northeast Scottsdale area in July of 1998. Starting from scratch, Via de Cristo grew into a dynamic faith community serving a niche group of spiritual seekers and those who would otherwise be “church alumni”.

In an effort to offer educational materials that were not being produced by other publishers, David and fellow United Methodist pastor, Jeff Procter-Murphy, created a new curriculum for Progressive Christians called Living the Questions. Developed at Via de Cristo and Asbury United Methodist, what started out as just one DVD series is now a growing catalog of curriculum, including the new series, “DreamThinkBeDo,” “Saving Jesus Redux,” “Matt & Lucy’s Version Births” (a Children’s Christmas Pageant), and a series questioning capital punishment with Sr. Helen Prejean. LtQ curriculum is now in use in nearly 6,000 churches in North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand.

David and co-author, Jeff Procter-Murphy, published their first book together in 2012: “Living the Questions, the Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.”

 

Mr Michael Morwood - Michael Morwood is a former Catholic priest. He received his Masters in Pastoral Ministry from Boston College.  He has extensive experience in adult faith formation ministry, conducting retreats and running workshops on the need to re-shape Christian imagination and thinking.  He is the author of ten books on spirituality.

In recent years he was the theologian in residence at Kirkridge Retreat Center in Pennsylvania.  He now resides in Perth with his wife, Maria.

 

 

Mr Graeme Mundine- Graeme Mundine is a well-received keynote speaker on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues who also Consults to groups who wish to further understand how they can better relate with Indigenous Peoples.  Graeme brings with him over thirty years’ experience of working with Churches in this area.  Prior to his Consulting he was the Executive Officer of the Sydney Archdiocese’s Aboriginal Catholic Ministry. His work covered many Faith Traditions while at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC) which is the Indigenous Commission of the National Council of Churches.  He was also the inaugural Chair and Executive officer of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC).  Prior to that Graeme worked in schools and youth ministry.  In all these roles Graeme strives to bring a greater understanding to the non-Indigenous community of the issues concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.  Graeme is committed to advocating for the needs of Aboriginal Peoples within Churches, with Government and with the wider community. 

 

Rev Jana Norman – Jana Norman is Minister at Pilgrim Uniting Church, Adelaide.  She was ordained in 1993 in the United Church of Christ in her native United States. Jana served as Assistant Moderator of the UCC in 1999, and prior to that role she played a leadership role in reaffirming the denomination’s long-standing progressive and full inclusion of LBGTIQ persons in the life of the church. She also worked for the national offices of the UCC in resource and leadership development.

A graduate of Yale Divinity School, Jana was the president of the Board of Alumnal Affairs and continues her association with Yale through the Forum on Religion and Ecology. 

Jana's prior experience of working in city ministry includes a position with the United Reformed Church in the East End of London and being a supply minister at John Flynn Memorial in Alice Springs.  She has great affection for the Northern Territory and comes to Pilgrim from Nightcliff Uniting Church in Darwin, which during her time developed itself as an Alternative Resource Community through permaculture community gardens, a café, and a revamped Op Shop.  Jana was also the Pastoral Care Coordinator for Territory Palliative Care, a role that fed her passions for ecumenical and interfaith engagement and research in the broad field of spirituality and wellbeing.  She has a Pastoral Care Specialist qualification conferred by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and has published extensively in the area of innovative resources for congregational life.

At Pilgrim Uniting Church, where she has been for five years, Jana leads an effort to engage The Great Work, Thomas Berry’s vision for human beings learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner. She works closely with the Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion at the University of Adelaide Law School, where she is engaged in research on Earth Jurisprudence, the philosophy of law that asserts that the planet itself is the source of laws governing human endeavour.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

Rev Fred PlumerFred is President of ProgressiveChristianity.org in USA (previously known as The Center for Progressive Christianity).  After an extensive background in building management, real estate development and restaurant ownership and management, Fred Plumer made a career shift in 1981.  He earned his M.Div. degree at the Pacific School of Religion while doing work in an inner city community center.  In 1984 Rev. Plumer was called to the Irvine United Congregational Church in Irvine, California to lead a UCC new start church.  The church became known throughout the denomination as one of the more exciting and progressive mid-size congregations in the nation.  Rev. Plumer served on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Conference of the United Church of Christ (UCC) for five years, and chaired the Commission for Church Development and Evangelism for three of those years.  In that time the Southern California Conference put in place one of the most aggressive church development plans in its history. Rev. Plumer regularly gives workshops on church growth.  He became a member of the Executive Council for The Center for Progressive Christianity in 1995 and has written The Study Guide for TCPC’s “eight points.”

Rev. Plumer has been active in the inter-faith dialogue since his seminary years.  In 1989 under his leadership the UCC church agreed to host a small group of Jews who wanted to start a Reconstructionist Synagogue.  The congregations shared space, operating expenses, teaching forums, mission outreach projects, special services and meals for over 15 years.  The synagogue became one of the fastest growing congregations in the nation with nearly five hundred families when they found it necessary to build their own facility.  The unique relationship between the two congregations was the subject of numerous newspaper articles and radio talk shows providing Rev. Plumer many opportunities to speak of the importance of inter-religious dialogue.  In 2000 with the support of the synagogue, a Mosque joined in this unique mix of religious traditions sharing space and ideas.  The new relationship was covered by numerous newspapers, two talk shows and was a special feature that ran on CNN news, Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

In September of 2004 Rev. Plumer retired from the Irvine church so he could devote more time to writing and his passion – reclaiming the message of Jesus.  In January of 2006 after Jim Adams, founder of TCPC retired as President, Fred was elected as the new President.

 

Ms Saara Sabbagh – Raised in Melbourne of Syrian descent, Saara Sabbagh began a committed study of Islam     and active community participation and service at the young age of 16.  Initially studying with local teachers, Saara went on to travel to Syria where she formally pursued the path of traditional sacred knowledge under the tutelage of female scholars from Damascus and Hama.  Seeing fellow females in respected roles of leadership and scholarship had a profound impact on Saara.

For the past 20 years, Saara has been unwavering in her service to the Melbourne and Australian community with firm determination, creativity and optimism.  As a cross-cultural educator Saara continues to engage the broader community and challenge commonly held stereotypes and perceptions.  As a Muslim community leader and educator Saara is critically engaging her community on what it means to be an Australian Muslim in today’s world, and how we can change our condition through promoting spiritual excellence, revival of sacred knowledge and creating open and welcoming community spaces that encourage dialogue and enable individuals to embark upon their faith journeys without judgement.

A visionary voice within the Muslim community, Saara is a dynamic public speaker and a much sought after consultant on Muslim community affairs.  She is the founding Director of Benevolence Australia –an organisation formed to meet the growing needs of Australian Muslims within the Melbourne community.  She was awarded Australian Muslim Achievement Award’s (AMAA) Role Model of the Year 2013.  Saara is married and a mother.

 

PARALLEL PROGRAM FOR EMERGING GENERATIONS (Gen Y/Millennials)

Rev Matthew Cutlerrefer to entry under Electives

 

Rev Lucas Taylor – refer to entry under Electives

 

Ms Deshna Ubeda – Deshna joined the ProgressiveChristianity.org team in 2006 and is currently the Associate Director. She wears many hats at PC.org, but she spends most of her work day managing and building the website, directing projects and event planning, managing partnerships, marketing, and advertisements, and publishing/creating the eBulletins and eBlasts. She was the project director and contributor for A Joyful Path, the Inner Wisdom Series, progressive Christian spiritual curriculum created and published by ProgressiveChristianity.org. She was a workshop presenter at the Common Dreams Conference in Melbourne, Australia in 2010 and has spoken at events in Oahu, Canada, Seattle, and Portland on the subject of “Nourishing Children Spiritually in Today's World.”

Deshna attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she graduated with honors as a Religious Studies major and a Global Peace and Security minor.

 

PANEL PRESENTATION


PROF PAMELA EISENBAUM
- Refer to entry under Major Public Addresses


Rev Dr Margaret Mayman - Margaret is Minister at Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney.  She was born in Aotearoa New Zealand and was ordained as a Presbyterian Minister in 1983.  She holds a PhD in Christian Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York where she lived, studied and taught for 12 years.  She was a parish Minister in New Zealand for 18 years before moving to Sydney in December 2013.

At Pitt Street, Margaret leads a congregation that practices a ministry of inclusive hospitality and seeks to participate in the public square in the City of Sydney.  Margaret enjoys bringing progressive religious and ethical perspectives into dialogue with the issues of the secular city.  She has been involved in a number of social justice campaigns presenting a progressive religious voice on issues such as Marriage Equality and justice for refugees and people seeking asylum.

She lives with her partner Clare who is also an ordained minister.  She has an adult son Andrew who is a person with autism.

 

Rev Dr Lorraine Parkinson - Lorraine Parkinson is an ordained Minister of the Uniting Church in Australia.  She is retired from stipended parish ministry, but engaged across Australia and New Zealand in teaching the new paradigm about Jesus and his vision of the best possible world.  Her doctoral dissertation exploring Jesus’ self-understanding was researched in Jerusalem and Cambridge UK.  She is Chair of the UCA Synod of Victoria and Tasmania’s Working Group on Christian-Jewish Relations.  She is Vice-President of the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria.  Lorraine has written articles, chapters for progressive publications, and her own books: ‘The World According to Jesus: his blueprint for the best possible world (2011)’, and ‘Made on Earth: how gospel writers created the Christ’(2015).

 

 ELECTIVES

 

 Rev Adrian Alker –  Adrian is the Chair of the Progressive Christianity Network in the UK. He studied Modern History at the University of Oxford, followed by the gaining of a Masters in English social history.  After a career in local government as a senior careers adviser, he returned to study theology at Oxford and was ordained as a Church of England priest in Liverpool Cathedral in 1980.  After his curacy in Liverpool, Adrian worked as a Diocesan Youth Officer in the Diocese of Carlisle, taking young people on memorable visits to the continent of Europe, to Taize and to Madras in south India.

In 1988 Adrian was appointed Vicar of St Marks Broomhill, Sheffield, where he served for twenty years. Adrian was greatly inspired by the writings of Marcus Borg and the work of the Jesus Seminar in the USA. Borg’s acceptance of an invitation to come to St Mark’s led to the founding of the St Mark’s Centre for Radical Christianity.  St Marks Sheffield became one of the leading liberal churches in the UK, demonstrating that a church with a radical and progressive theology can attract large numbers of people who yearn for change.

In 2008, before leaving Sheffield, Adrian was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Sheffield for services to the community.

Adrian’s last post in the Church of England was as Director of Mission Resourcing in the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, supporting parishes to engage with contemporary issues of faith and life.  Having retired from that post, Adrian now chairs the Progressive Christianity Network in the UK, having been a trustee of PCN Britain since its inception.

His book, ‘Is a Radical Church Possible?’, with a foreword by Bishop Jack Spong, was published in March of this year.

Dr Ray Barraclough - Ray's doctorate explored political ideas in the Christian scriptures. For 10 years he was a chaplain at the University of Queensland and a theological lecturer at St Francis' Anglican Theological College in Brisbane. While chaplain he was involved with the Australian Student Christian Movement (SCM) – which involvement continues to this day.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Ray was involved with Concerned Christians, a group committed to seeking justice in Queensland. In particular they worked in partnership with indigenous people. It involved vigils, pickets, and, on one occasion, Ray's arrest (along with several hundred colleagues) in Brisbane.

From 1989 to 1993 Ray was senior lecturer at St George’s College, Jerusalem - an Anglican educational institution that runs courses for international pilgrims. Ray's field work was focussed on the Galilee region and the  cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. Ray and his wife, Dorothy, also worked with local Palestinian Christians.

Returning to Brisbane, Ray was lecturer in New Testament at St Francis’ Theological College and a member of the lecturing team from Brisbane’s Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Church seminaries. They worked together in the ecumenical Brisbane College of Theology. Ray retired in 2006.

 Ray has also initiated two groups that have an Australia-wide membership:

*  Friends of Sabeel Australia Inc  - a group supporting the struggle of  the Palestinian people for peace and  justice in their own homeland.

A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia) Inc. - a group lobbying for progressive justice in Australian public life.  

Rev Matthew Cutler –  Matt Cutler is an ordained Churches of Christ minister who has ministered in three different contexts, the most recent being at Southern Community Church of Christ in Cheltenham, Victoria. Matt has a passion for creating safe spaces for honest and authentic faith grappling. An expression of this has been the Beyondering Podcast in which Matt teamed up with Lucas Taylor to create and present an interview based show to encourage younger generations to access and explore progressive thought and practice. Check out http://beyondering.com.au/ .



Ian Lawton – Ian has led churches in three counties; Australia, New Zealand and America.  In 2004, Bishop John Shelby Spong convinced Ian to move to the United States to lead an emerging group of free thinkers in West Michigan.  For ten years, Ian lived in Grand Haven, Michigan with his wife Meg and three children Hugo, Darcy and Raina.  The community evolved from a moderate Reformed Church to an independent Progressive community.

Now the Lawtons are back living south of Sydney, where Ian and Meg have day jobs (Ian at Greenpeace and Meg in social work) and they continue their online support community called Soulseeds.

Ian originates from Australia, where his ministry began on Sydney’s inner city streets.  Ian has always sought a spirituality that makes a difference in the reality of life here and now.  Ian admires anyone on an honest quest to live meaningful lives, no matter who you are or where life has taken you; homeless people, broken people, creative people, liberated people, recovering people, inquiring people, real people.

The Soulseeds network includes over 250,000 people on Facebook and over 150,000 on Twitter. It’s a fast growing and cutting edge social network of people interested in personal development, social change and the beautiful connectedness of life.

 

Rev Rob MacPherson - Rob’s appointment as Minister of his home congregation in Norwood, SA is his first such full-time appointment, and the realization of late-life career change as well as a long-held dream.  Raised and educated a Catholic in his native USA, Rob in his youth entertained the notion of training for the priesthood, but showed it the door before the notion had time to make itself fully at home.  There began a spiritual journey that has traced a circuitous route back to serving the faith needs of Unitarian congregations.  A Unitarian since 1992, he was accepted for ministerial training in the UK in 2009, and has recently completed, as part of that training, a Postgraduate Diploma in Contextual Theology (with Distinction) through the University of Manchester.  He also holds BA in English, an MLA in Philosophy (both with high honours), and a Certificate in Acting from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

During his working life, Rob has enjoyed success in the not-unrelated fields of acting, corporate training, secondary and tertiary teaching and administration.  Rob has been a Unitarian lay preacher at the Norwood church since 1999, and served a three-year appointment as Lay Preacher of the Shady Grove satellite congregation in the Adelaide Hills.  During his tenure there, regular attendance trebled and continues to thrive.  While studying for ministry in the UK, he enjoyed a highly successful student ministerial placement with the Dean Row congregation in Cheshire, and was sought after to take services at several other congregations in the north of England.

Since assuming the pulpit of the Norwood church, Rob has worked to strengthen and renew the church's focus on the religious life.  The new Multi-faith Speakers Program has hosted guest speakers from the Ba'hai, Buddhist, Islamic, and Anglican communities, and will soon host members of the Catholic, Jewish, and Hindu faiths.  Further, a new series of Religious Education courses have been offered and are well attended, including the "Building Your Own Theology", "An Introduction to Philosophy for Unitarians", and "12 Steps to a Compassionate Life", based on Karen Armstrong's book of the same name.  Upcoming RE projects include "How to be a Unitarian" and "Clowning and Spirituality", (led by Artist-in-Residence Hew Parham).  These are open to members and non-members alike.

 

Dr Noel Preston AM - Noel Preston is an ethicist and retired Uniting Church minister, currently Adjunct Professor in Applied Ethics, Griffith University.  He retired in November 2004 as the founding Director of the UnitingCare Queensland Centre for Social Justice. Previously (from 1987–2001) he held senior academic positions at Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University in the fields of Applied and Professional Ethics with a special research interest in Ethics and Government.  From 1995-7 Noel was President of the Australian Association of Professional and Applied Ethics.

He has been a regular public commentator on social ethics and is currently co-convenor of the Progressive Spirituality Network in Queensland and a member of the Australian Earth Charter Committee.

Among his many publications are Understanding Ethics (4th ed., 2014), a memoir and social history: Beyond the Boundary (2006), most recently Ethics with or without God (2015). His major current research interests are global ethics, eco-theology and progressive spirituality.

In 2004 Noel was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the community in the field of ethics.

He shares retirement in Brisbane's Bayside with his wife Olga Harris.

 

Rev Lucas Taylor – Lucas Taylor is an ordained Churches of Christ minister currently serving/leading amidst a Uniting Church congregation in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.  From a beginning in youth ministry, and having worked in solo and team ministry, Lucas is one of the emerging cohort of leaders who are attempting to put progressive, post-Christendom thought into ministry practice. Lucas is one of the creators and presenters of the Beyondering Podcast and is contributing to Common Dreams in order to promote and provide dedicated space in which younger generations can explore the application of progressive thought and belief into practice. Check out http://beyondering.com.au/ .


Rev Janet Turpie-Johnstone – Janet was born & bred in Portland, Victoria - a place of cold rugged seas. She now lives in Lilydale, Melbourne on the periphery of the city in the green edge. Janet works at the Australian Catholic University as an Equity Pathways Officer for indigenous students and contributes to teaching in the Faculty of Education. She is also a HDR Scholar at the Australian National University researching Aboriginal myths containing a relational ethic that works for the common good of all life. Janet is an Anglican priest.


Rev Elizabeth Winslea - Elizabeth Winslea is a pastor from a small, United Methodist church in Portland, Oregon.  For the last fifteen years Lincoln Street Church has been discerning together their expression of progressive Christianity.  Elizabeth will share about their context and practice – what has been life-giving for them.  This interactive discussion will invite participants into conversation about practices each of us bring to the table.  We will listen and learn from one another.  Bring your questions and ideas!

 

THE ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

Rev Alexandra Sangster - Alex Sangster is a Minister of the Word with the Uniting Church in Australia. She is currently the minister in placement at Fairfield UCA, Melbourne.  She has been a member of the Board of the UCA Victoria/Tasmania Synod’s Commission for Mission for 5 years, as well as of various Yarra Yarra Presbytery committees. 

She is a presenter for the schools’ program with JCMA and on the Steering Group for activist group LOVE MAKES A WAY.  She has worked with the Good Samaritan's in their domestic violence work and at various Housing Estates across Melbourne.

Alex is passionate about breaking open Story in ways that liberate, inspire and awaken and in ways, which create connections with the emerging church and those who are spiritually hungry but culturally anti –institution.  Alex is a dynamic and powerful worship leader and preacher and the creator of Progressive Pods.

Alex is an actor and facilitator with Melbourne Playback Theatre Company Melbourne which has been creating performances, professional training and workshops which transform, empower and entertain for over 30 years.  She started performing professionally in 1988 with Handspan’s '4 Little Girls' and later trained at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), graduating in 1995.

Her screen credits include; Blue Heelers, Halifax, Phoenix and Street Angels.  Alex has performed in numerous fringe theatre productions as well as Playbox’s Language of the Gods.  She also won the Australian Young Playwrights Award for a radio play broadcast on ABC Radio National.

In 2014 Alex wrote and produced the award winning children's play 'April Underhill: tooth fairy'.  She has taught drama at the National Theatre and has facilitated many retreats and workshops designed to awaken, inspire and challenge. Alex is also the author of the Mystic Bible, a theologically progressive Gospel for children published and sold by both the Victorian and American Progressive Christian networks.

 

 

 

 

 

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Speakers

 

WELCOME TO BRISBANE & THE CONFERENCE

Fr John M Dobson OAM - John Dobson is the Chancellor of the University of the Sunshine Coast. He was the Parish Priest of Caloundra Parish between 1982 and 2012, and the Dean of the North Coast Deanery within the Catholic Church from 1992 to 2012.

His contributions to the community include founding privately-funded residential care facilities for the aged and for people with intellectual disabilities; and co-funding a retirement village.

Mr Dobson has also contributed to the establishment of a comprehensive college (in partnership with the Uniting Church); and has been responsible for creating dedicated support groups for prisoners and their families.

Mr Dobson has been a member of the University Council since 1997, and was elected Chancellor in March 2007 for an inaugural term from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2012 and in December 2011 was reappointed from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2017.

WELCOME TO COUNTRY

Sam Watson Jr is of the Munnenjarl and Bin Gubba tribal nations; an Aboriginal Elder based in Brisbane who has been an activist for more than forty years. He is a renowned poet, playwright and film maker. Among many leadership positions he has been Chair of the Brisbane Aboriginal Legal Service and Deputy Director of the ATSI Studies Unit.

 
MAJOR PUBLIC LECTURES

Dr Diana Butler Bass - Diana Butler Bass is an author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture.

She holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of nine books, including Grounded: Finding God in the World—A Spiritual Revolution (HarperOne, 2015) and the widely influential Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening (HarperOne, 2012).  Her other books include A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story (HarperOne, 2009), nominated for a Library of Virginia literary award, and the best-selling Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (2006) which was named as one of the best religion books of the year by Publishers Weekly and was featured in a cover story in USA TODAY.

Diana regularly speaks at conferences, consults with religious organizations, leads educational events for religious leaders, and teaches and preaches in a variety of venues.  She writes at The Huffington Post and The Washington Post and comments on religion, politics, and culture in the media including USA TODAY, Time, Newsweek, CBS, CNN, FOX, PBS, and NPR.

From 2002 to 2006, she was the Project Director of a national Lilly Endowment-funded study of mainline Protestant vitality—a project featured in Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, and the Los Angeles Times.

Dr. Butler Bass is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize of the American Society of Church History and an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from The General Theological Seminary in New York.  She also serves on the board of Public Religion Research and is an advisor on the project for a National Museum of American Religion in Washington, D.C.

Additionally, Dr. Butler Bass has taught at Westmont College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Macalester College, Rhodes College, and the Virginia Theological Seminary in subjects ranging from church history, American religious history, history of Christian thought, to religion and politics, religion and race, and congregational studies.

She and her family live in Alexandria, Virginia.

 

Professor Pamela Eisenbaum - One of four Jewish New Testament scholars teaching in Christian theological schools in USA, Pamela Eisenbaum is Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Origins at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.  She is the author of The Jewish Heroes of Christian History: Hebrews 11 in Literary Context, Invitation to Romans and most recently, Paul Was Not a Christian.  She is a contributor to the Women’s Bible Commentary and the Jewish Annotated New Testament, and has published many essays on the Bible, ancient Judaism and the origins of Christianity.  Two of her greatest professional passions are the apostle Paul and ancient manuscripts, and her current research involves the role of technology (ancient and modern) in the codification, preservation, and transmission of the Bible.  In addition to her appointment at Iliff, she is an affiliate faculty member of the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver.  

 

Dr Val Webb - Val (Skerman) Webb's career spans three countries and occupations as diverse as microbiology, business, public relations, art and religious studies.  She holds a graduate degree in Science (microbiology) from the University of Queensland and a Ph.D. in Theology from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.  Born and educated in Brisbane, Val lived almost thirty years in the United States where her husband Maurice was a surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.  During a period in Brisbane in the 1980's, Val held state and national positions in the Uniting Church in Australia, including Chair of the Queensland Synod Board for Education and Communication, and Superintendent of Communications and Resources for The Wesley Hospital. 

Val has taught religious studies and world religions at universities in the United States and Australia and has written eleven books, including Florence Nightingale: the making of a radical theologian; In Defence of Doubt: an invitation to adventure; and Stepping out with the Sacred: human attempts to engage the Divine.  Her book Like Catching Water in a Net: human attempts to describe the Divine won the "religion" category of the 2007 Best Books USA Awards.  Val's latest book is Testing Tradition and Liberating Theology: finding your own voice (2015)

She has recently completed two speaking tours of progressive groups in the UK and continues her writing and speaking engagements here and overseas from her home in Mudgee, NSW where she and Maurice own an award-winning guesthouse run by one of their three children.

 

KEYNOTE ADDRESSES

Rev David Felten - David Felten is Pastor at Fountains United Methodist Church, Fountain Hills, Arizona. A native of Phoenix, David received a music education degree from Arizona State University before attending Boston University School of Theology where he earned his MDiv in Biblical Studies and History. Before completing Chaplaincy training at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, David spent a year studying as a Rotary Graduate Scholar at Perth Theological Hall of Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia where he received an Honours degree.

David spent eight years as Associate Pastor and Co-pastor at Epworth United Methodist in West Phoenix and was appointed to start a new church in the Northeast Scottsdale area in July of 1998. Starting from scratch, Via de Cristo grew into a dynamic faith community serving a niche group of spiritual seekers and those who would otherwise be “church alumni”.

In an effort to offer educational materials that were not being produced by other publishers, David and fellow United Methodist pastor, Jeff Procter-Murphy, created a new curriculum for Progressive Christians called Living the Questions. Developed at Via de Cristo and Asbury United Methodist, what started out as just one DVD series is now a growing catalog of curriculum, including the new series, “DreamThinkBeDo,” “Saving Jesus Redux,” “Matt & Lucy’s Version Births” (a Children’s Christmas Pageant), and a series questioning capital punishment with Sr. Helen Prejean. LtQ curriculum is now in use in nearly 6,000 churches in North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand.

David and co-author, Jeff Procter-Murphy, published their first book together in 2012: “Living the Questions, the Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.”

 

Mr Michael Morwood - Michael Morwood is a former Catholic priest. He received his Masters in Pastoral Ministry from Boston College.  He has extensive experience in adult faith formation ministry, conducting retreats and running workshops on the need to re-shape Christian imagination and thinking.  He is the author of ten books on spirituality.

In recent years he was the theologian in residence at Kirkridge Retreat Center in Pennsylvania.  He now resides in Perth with his wife, Maria.

 

 

Mr Graeme Mundine- Graeme Mundine is a well-received keynote speaker on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues who also Consults to groups who wish to further understand how they can better relate with Indigenous Peoples.  Graeme brings with him over thirty years’ experience of working with Churches in this area.  Prior to his Consulting he was the Executive Officer of the Sydney Archdiocese’s Aboriginal Catholic Ministry. His work covered many Faith Traditions while at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC) which is the Indigenous Commission of the National Council of Churches.  He was also the inaugural Chair and Executive officer of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC).  Prior to that Graeme worked in schools and youth ministry.  In all these roles Graeme strives to bring a greater understanding to the non-Indigenous community of the issues concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.  Graeme is committed to advocating for the needs of Aboriginal Peoples within Churches, with Government and with the wider community. 

 

Rev Jana Norman – Jana Norman is Minister at Pilgrim Uniting Church, Adelaide.  She was ordained in 1993 in the United Church of Christ in her native United States. Jana served as Assistant Moderator of the UCC in 1999, and prior to that role she played a leadership role in reaffirming the denomination’s long-standing progressive and full inclusion of LBGTIQ persons in the life of the church. She also worked for the national offices of the UCC in resource and leadership development.

A graduate of Yale Divinity School, Jana was the president of the Board of Alumnal Affairs and continues her association with Yale through the Forum on Religion and Ecology. 

Jana's prior experience of working in city ministry includes a position with the United Reformed Church in the East End of London and being a supply minister at John Flynn Memorial in Alice Springs.  She has great affection for the Northern Territory and comes to Pilgrim from Nightcliff Uniting Church in Darwin, which during her time developed itself as an Alternative Resource Community through permaculture community gardens, a café, and a revamped Op Shop.  Jana was also the Pastoral Care Coordinator for Territory Palliative Care, a role that fed her passions for ecumenical and interfaith engagement and research in the broad field of spirituality and wellbeing.  She has a Pastoral Care Specialist qualification conferred by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and has published extensively in the area of innovative resources for congregational life.

At Pilgrim Uniting Church, where she has been for five years, Jana leads an effort to engage The Great Work, Thomas Berry’s vision for human beings learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner. She works closely with the Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion at the University of Adelaide Law School, where she is engaged in research on Earth Jurisprudence, the philosophy of law that asserts that the planet itself is the source of laws governing human endeavour.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

Rev Fred PlumerFred is President of ProgressiveChristianity.org in USA (previously known as The Center for Progressive Christianity).  After an extensive background in building management, real estate development and restaurant ownership and management, Fred Plumer made a career shift in 1981.  He earned his M.Div. degree at the Pacific School of Religion while doing work in an inner city community center.  In 1984 Rev. Plumer was called to the Irvine United Congregational Church in Irvine, California to lead a UCC new start church.  The church became known throughout the denomination as one of the more exciting and progressive mid-size congregations in the nation.  Rev. Plumer served on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Conference of the United Church of Christ (UCC) for five years, and chaired the Commission for Church Development and Evangelism for three of those years.  In that time the Southern California Conference put in place one of the most aggressive church development plans in its history. Rev. Plumer regularly gives workshops on church growth.  He became a member of the Executive Council for The Center for Progressive Christianity in 1995 and has written The Study Guide for TCPC’s “eight points.”

Rev. Plumer has been active in the inter-faith dialogue since his seminary years.  In 1989 under his leadership the UCC church agreed to host a small group of Jews who wanted to start a Reconstructionist Synagogue.  The congregations shared space, operating expenses, teaching forums, mission outreach projects, special services and meals for over 15 years.  The synagogue became one of the fastest growing congregations in the nation with nearly five hundred families when they found it necessary to build their own facility.  The unique relationship between the two congregations was the subject of numerous newspaper articles and radio talk shows providing Rev. Plumer many opportunities to speak of the importance of inter-religious dialogue.  In 2000 with the support of the synagogue, a Mosque joined in this unique mix of religious traditions sharing space and ideas.  The new relationship was covered by numerous newspapers, two talk shows and was a special feature that ran on CNN news, Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

In September of 2004 Rev. Plumer retired from the Irvine church so he could devote more time to writing and his passion – reclaiming the message of Jesus.  In January of 2006 after Jim Adams, founder of TCPC retired as President, Fred was elected as the new President.

 

Ms Saara Sabbagh – Raised in Melbourne of Syrian descent, Saara Sabbagh began a committed study of Islam     and active community participation and service at the young age of 16.  Initially studying with local teachers, Saara went on to travel to Syria where she formally pursued the path of traditional sacred knowledge under the tutelage of female scholars from Damascus and Hama.  Seeing fellow females in respected roles of leadership and scholarship had a profound impact on Saara.

For the past 20 years, Saara has been unwavering in her service to the Melbourne and Australian community with firm determination, creativity and optimism.  As a cross-cultural educator Saara continues to engage the broader community and challenge commonly held stereotypes and perceptions.  As a Muslim community leader and educator Saara is critically engaging her community on what it means to be an Australian Muslim in today’s world, and how we can change our condition through promoting spiritual excellence, revival of sacred knowledge and creating open and welcoming community spaces that encourage dialogue and enable individuals to embark upon their faith journeys without judgement.

A visionary voice within the Muslim community, Saara is a dynamic public speaker and a much sought after consultant on Muslim community affairs.  She is the founding Director of Benevolence Australia –an organisation formed to meet the growing needs of Australian Muslims within the Melbourne community.  She was awarded Australian Muslim Achievement Award’s (AMAA) Role Model of the Year 2013.  Saara is married and a mother.

 

PARALLEL PROGRAM FOR EMERGING GENERATIONS (Gen Y/Millennials)

Rev Matthew Cutlerrefer to entry under Electives

 

Rev Lucas Taylor – refer to entry under Electives

 

Ms Deshna Ubeda – Deshna joined the ProgressiveChristianity.org team in 2006 and is currently the Associate Director. She wears many hats at PC.org, but she spends most of her work day managing and building the website, directing projects and event planning, managing partnerships, marketing, and advertisements, and publishing/creating the eBulletins and eBlasts. She was the project director and contributor for A Joyful Path, the Inner Wisdom Series, progressive Christian spiritual curriculum created and published by ProgressiveChristianity.org. She was a workshop presenter at the Common Dreams Conference in Melbourne, Australia in 2010 and has spoken at events in Oahu, Canada, Seattle, and Portland on the subject of “Nourishing Children Spiritually in Today's World.”

Deshna attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she graduated with honors as a Religious Studies major and a Global Peace and Security minor.

 

PANEL PRESENTATION


PROF PAMELA EISENBAUM
- Refer to entry under Major Public Addresses


Rev Dr Margaret Mayman - Margaret is Minister at Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney.  She was born in Aotearoa New Zealand and was ordained as a Presbyterian Minister in 1983.  She holds a PhD in Christian Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York where she lived, studied and taught for 12 years.  She was a parish Minister in New Zealand for 18 years before moving to Sydney in December 2013.

At Pitt Street, Margaret leads a congregation that practices a ministry of inclusive hospitality and seeks to participate in the public square in the City of Sydney.  Margaret enjoys bringing progressive religious and ethical perspectives into dialogue with the issues of the secular city.  She has been involved in a number of social justice campaigns presenting a progressive religious voice on issues such as Marriage Equality and justice for refugees and people seeking asylum.

She lives with her partner Clare who is also an ordained minister.  She has an adult son Andrew who is a person with autism.

 

Rev Dr Lorraine Parkinson - Lorraine Parkinson is an ordained Minister of the Uniting Church in Australia.  She is retired from stipended parish ministry, but engaged across Australia and New Zealand in teaching the new paradigm about Jesus and his vision of the best possible world.  Her doctoral dissertation exploring Jesus’ self-understanding was researched in Jerusalem and Cambridge UK.  She is Chair of the UCA Synod of Victoria and Tasmania’s Working Group on Christian-Jewish Relations.  She is Vice-President of the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria.  Lorraine has written articles, chapters for progressive publications, and her own books: ‘The World According to Jesus: his blueprint for the best possible world (2011)’, and ‘Made on Earth: how gospel writers created the Christ’(2015).

 

 ELECTIVES

 

 Rev Adrian Alker –  Adrian is the Chair of the Progressive Christianity Network in the UK. He studied Modern History at the University of Oxford, followed by the gaining of a Masters in English social history.  After a career in local government as a senior careers adviser, he returned to study theology at Oxford and was ordained as a Church of England priest in Liverpool Cathedral in 1980.  After his curacy in Liverpool, Adrian worked as a Diocesan Youth Officer in the Diocese of Carlisle, taking young people on memorable visits to the continent of Europe, to Taize and to Madras in south India.

In 1988 Adrian was appointed Vicar of St Marks Broomhill, Sheffield, where he served for twenty years. Adrian was greatly inspired by the writings of Marcus Borg and the work of the Jesus Seminar in the USA. Borg’s acceptance of an invitation to come to St Mark’s led to the founding of the St Mark’s Centre for Radical Christianity.  St Marks Sheffield became one of the leading liberal churches in the UK, demonstrating that a church with a radical and progressive theology can attract large numbers of people who yearn for change.

In 2008, before leaving Sheffield, Adrian was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Sheffield for services to the community.

Adrian’s last post in the Church of England was as Director of Mission Resourcing in the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, supporting parishes to engage with contemporary issues of faith and life.  Having retired from that post, Adrian now chairs the Progressive Christianity Network in the UK, having been a trustee of PCN Britain since its inception.

His book, ‘Is a Radical Church Possible?’, with a foreword by Bishop Jack Spong, was published in March of this year.

Dr Ray Barraclough - Ray's doctorate explored political ideas in the Christian scriptures. For 10 years he was a chaplain at the University of Queensland and a theological lecturer at St Francis' Anglican Theological College in Brisbane. While chaplain he was involved with the Australian Student Christian Movement (SCM) – which involvement continues to this day.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Ray was involved with Concerned Christians, a group committed to seeking justice in Queensland. In particular they worked in partnership with indigenous people. It involved vigils, pickets, and, on one occasion, Ray's arrest (along with several hundred colleagues) in Brisbane.

From 1989 to 1993 Ray was senior lecturer at St George’s College, Jerusalem - an Anglican educational institution that runs courses for international pilgrims. Ray's field work was focussed on the Galilee region and the  cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. Ray and his wife, Dorothy, also worked with local Palestinian Christians.

Returning to Brisbane, Ray was lecturer in New Testament at St Francis’ Theological College and a member of the lecturing team from Brisbane’s Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Church seminaries. They worked together in the ecumenical Brisbane College of Theology. Ray retired in 2006.

 Ray has also initiated two groups that have an Australia-wide membership:

*  Friends of Sabeel Australia Inc  - a group supporting the struggle of  the Palestinian people for peace and  justice in their own homeland.

A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia) Inc. - a group lobbying for progressive justice in Australian public life.  

Rev Matthew Cutler –  Matt Cutler is an ordained Churches of Christ minister who has ministered in three different contexts, the most recent being at Southern Community Church of Christ in Cheltenham, Victoria. Matt has a passion for creating safe spaces for honest and authentic faith grappling. An expression of this has been the Beyondering Podcast in which Matt teamed up with Lucas Taylor to create and present an interview based show to encourage younger generations to access and explore progressive thought and practice. Check out http://beyondering.com.au/ .



Ian Lawton – Ian has led churches in three counties; Australia, New Zealand and America.  In 2004, Bishop John Shelby Spong convinced Ian to move to the United States to lead an emerging group of free thinkers in West Michigan.  For ten years, Ian lived in Grand Haven, Michigan with his wife Meg and three children Hugo, Darcy and Raina.  The community evolved from a moderate Reformed Church to an independent Progressive community.

Now the Lawtons are back living south of Sydney, where Ian and Meg have day jobs (Ian at Greenpeace and Meg in social work) and they continue their online support community called Soulseeds.

Ian originates from Australia, where his ministry began on Sydney’s inner city streets.  Ian has always sought a spirituality that makes a difference in the reality of life here and now.  Ian admires anyone on an honest quest to live meaningful lives, no matter who you are or where life has taken you; homeless people, broken people, creative people, liberated people, recovering people, inquiring people, real people.

The Soulseeds network includes over 250,000 people on Facebook and over 150,000 on Twitter. It’s a fast growing and cutting edge social network of people interested in personal development, social change and the beautiful connectedness of life.

 

Rev Rob MacPherson - Rob’s appointment as Minister of his home congregation in Norwood, SA is his first such full-time appointment, and the realization of late-life career change as well as a long-held dream.  Raised and educated a Catholic in his native USA, Rob in his youth entertained the notion of training for the priesthood, but showed it the door before the notion had time to make itself fully at home.  There began a spiritual journey that has traced a circuitous route back to serving the faith needs of Unitarian congregations.  A Unitarian since 1992, he was accepted for ministerial training in the UK in 2009, and has recently completed, as part of that training, a Postgraduate Diploma in Contextual Theology (with Distinction) through the University of Manchester.  He also holds BA in English, an MLA in Philosophy (both with high honours), and a Certificate in Acting from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

During his working life, Rob has enjoyed success in the not-unrelated fields of acting, corporate training, secondary and tertiary teaching and administration.  Rob has been a Unitarian lay preacher at the Norwood church since 1999, and served a three-year appointment as Lay Preacher of the Shady Grove satellite congregation in the Adelaide Hills.  During his tenure there, regular attendance trebled and continues to thrive.  While studying for ministry in the UK, he enjoyed a highly successful student ministerial placement with the Dean Row congregation in Cheshire, and was sought after to take services at several other congregations in the north of England.

Since assuming the pulpit of the Norwood church, Rob has worked to strengthen and renew the church's focus on the religious life.  The new Multi-faith Speakers Program has hosted guest speakers from the Ba'hai, Buddhist, Islamic, and Anglican communities, and will soon host members of the Catholic, Jewish, and Hindu faiths.  Further, a new series of Religious Education courses have been offered and are well attended, including the "Building Your Own Theology", "An Introduction to Philosophy for Unitarians", and "12 Steps to a Compassionate Life", based on Karen Armstrong's book of the same name.  Upcoming RE projects include "How to be a Unitarian" and "Clowning and Spirituality", (led by Artist-in-Residence Hew Parham).  These are open to members and non-members alike.

 

Dr Noel Preston AM - Noel Preston is an ethicist and retired Uniting Church minister, currently Adjunct Professor in Applied Ethics, Griffith University.  He retired in November 2004 as the founding Director of the UnitingCare Queensland Centre for Social Justice. Previously (from 1987–2001) he held senior academic positions at Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University in the fields of Applied and Professional Ethics with a special research interest in Ethics and Government.  From 1995-7 Noel was President of the Australian Association of Professional and Applied Ethics.

He has been a regular public commentator on social ethics and is currently co-convenor of the Progressive Spirituality Network in Queensland and a member of the Australian Earth Charter Committee.

Among his many publications are Understanding Ethics (4th ed., 2014), a memoir and social history: Beyond the Boundary (2006), most recently Ethics with or without God (2015). His major current research interests are global ethics, eco-theology and progressive spirituality.

In 2004 Noel was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the community in the field of ethics.

He shares retirement in Brisbane's Bayside with his wife Olga Harris.

 

Rev Lucas Taylor – Lucas Taylor is an ordained Churches of Christ minister currently serving/leading amidst a Uniting Church congregation in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.  From a beginning in youth ministry, and having worked in solo and team ministry, Lucas is one of the emerging cohort of leaders who are attempting to put progressive, post-Christendom thought into ministry practice. Lucas is one of the creators and presenters of the Beyondering Podcast and is contributing to Common Dreams in order to promote and provide dedicated space in which younger generations can explore the application of progressive thought and belief into practice. Check out http://beyondering.com.au/ .


Rev Janet Turpie-Johnstone – Janet was born & bred in Portland, Victoria - a place of cold rugged seas. She now lives in Lilydale, Melbourne on the periphery of the city in the green edge. Janet works at the Australian Catholic University as an Equity Pathways Officer for indigenous students and contributes to teaching in the Faculty of Education. She is also a HDR Scholar at the Australian National University researching Aboriginal myths containing a relational ethic that works for the common good of all life. Janet is an Anglican priest.


Rev Elizabeth Winslea - Elizabeth Winslea is a pastor from a small, United Methodist church in Portland, Oregon.  For the last fifteen years Lincoln Street Church has been discerning together their expression of progressive Christianity.  Elizabeth will share about their context and practice – what has been life-giving for them.  This interactive discussion will invite participants into conversation about practices each of us bring to the table.  We will listen and learn from one another.  Bring your questions and ideas!

 

THE ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

Rev Alexandra Sangster - Alex Sangster is a Minister of the Word with the Uniting Church in Australia. She is currently the minister in placement at Fairfield UCA, Melbourne.  She has been a member of the Board of the UCA Victoria/Tasmania Synod’s Commission for Mission for 5 years, as well as of various Yarra Yarra Presbytery committees. 

She is a presenter for the schools’ program with JCMA and on the Steering Group for activist group LOVE MAKES A WAY.  She has worked with the Good Samaritan's in their domestic violence work and at various Housing Estates across Melbourne.

Alex is passionate about breaking open Story in ways that liberate, inspire and awaken and in ways, which create connections with the emerging church and those who are spiritually hungry but culturally anti –institution.  Alex is a dynamic and powerful worship leader and preacher and the creator of Progressive Pods.

Alex is an actor and facilitator with Melbourne Playback Theatre Company Melbourne which has been creating performances, professional training and workshops which transform, empower and entertain for over 30 years.  She started performing professionally in 1988 with Handspan’s '4 Little Girls' and later trained at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), graduating in 1995.

Her screen credits include; Blue Heelers, Halifax, Phoenix and Street Angels.  Alex has performed in numerous fringe theatre productions as well as Playbox’s Language of the Gods.  She also won the Australian Young Playwrights Award for a radio play broadcast on ABC Radio National.

In 2014 Alex wrote and produced the award winning children's play 'April Underhill: tooth fairy'.  She has taught drama at the National Theatre and has facilitated many retreats and workshops designed to awaken, inspire and challenge. Alex is also the author of the Mystic Bible, a theologically progressive Gospel for children published and sold by both the Victorian and American Progressive Christian networks.

 

 

 

 

 





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