Category Archives: Ecumenical

We’ve got Marriage Equality, so why am I not satisfied?

Exodus 15.19-20; 16.1-3
Luke 15.1–3, 11b–32

Last Sunday we welcomed Pastor Alex Pittaway, who brought the message to us. Alex is Pastor of MCC, the Metropolitan Community Church in Brisbane—a church that has for 40 years been a safe haven for the LGBTIQ community. He is also recognised by the Uniting Church in Queensland as a Chaplain at Emmanuel College at the University of Queensland. Alex describes himself as a progressive evangelical and is passionate about Jesus, social justice, the environment and combating LGBTIQ bullying in schools.

It was a delight to have him with us. Here is his sermon:


Good morning. Would you pray with me? 

I’d like to start by thanking Ariel and Rev. Paul Walton for this invitation to speak here this morning. You have a wonderful congregation that has shined the light of the inclusive Gospel of Jesus for so many years not just for the LBGTIQ community but anyone who has experienced marginalisation for so many years. 

This morning I’d like to share with you my own experiences about what it means to be part of the LGBTIQ community from a Christian perspective. I want to start by acknowledging my own limitations: I speak as an educated, privileged, anglo-saxon male who does not have to experience the realities of living as a person of colour or as a person with a diverse gender expression. Never the less I’d like to share some heartfelt experiences backed up with some solid research as we ponder what comes next for LGBTIQ inclusion now that marriage equality is a reality and that most legal discrimination against the LGBTIQ community is gone. We have never lived, in Australia at least, in a better time to be LGBTIQ. Yet why do I feel, despite all these advances, that something is not right. I don’t pretend to speak for the entire community, but I do want to speak for myself. 

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Nadia Bolz-Weber: Entering the stream of the faithful | Faith & Leadership

I’m reading about this idea of ‘Traditioned Innovation’. It seems to me to have resonances with what we’re trying to do liturgically in following the path of ‘ordered liberty’, as well as echoing Robert Webber’s ‘Ancient-Future’ scheme.

Besides all that, Nadia Bolz-Weber consistently has a great message. Do yourself a favour, read it:

Nadia Bolz-Weber: Entering the stream of the faithful | Faith & Leadership.

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Conversations with Rowan Williams – Eureka Street

Another thoughtful contribution to what I expect will be a growing list of reflectionsdon Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury. It is vital for us in the Uniting Church to keep hearing its focus on conversation as ecclesial practice.

Conversations with Rowan Williams – Eureka Street.

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Die, heretic scum? (4th Sunday of Ordinary Time/Epiphany 4, Year B, 29 January 2012)


1 Corinthians 8.1-13
Mark 1.21-28


I love this story. I love it so much, I’ve told it before. And I’m sure I’ll tell it again.

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: ‘Stop. Don’t do it.’

‘Why shouldn’t I?’ he asked.

‘Well, there’s so much to live for!’

‘Like what?’

‘Are you religious?’ I asked.

He said: ‘Yes.’

I said: ‘Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?’


‘Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?’


‘Me too. Are you Presbyterian or Baptist?’


‘Wow. Me too. Are you Presbyterian Church of God or Presbyterian Church of the Lord?’

‘Presbyterian Church of God.’

‘Me too. And are you Original Presbyterian Church of God, or are you Reformed Presbyterian Church of God?’

‘Reformed Presbyterian Church of God.’

‘Me too. Are you Reformed Presbyterian Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Presbyterian Church of God, Reformation of 1915?’

He said: ‘Reformed Presbyterian Church of God, Reformation of 1915.’

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WCC Christmas Message 2010

from the World Council of Churches general secretary

The nativity of Jesus Christ is proclaimed by angelic choirs in the heights of heaven, and the joyous news is echoed afterwards by modest shepherds in fields near Bethlehem. Meanwhile, a mother and father care for their newborn child. No place for this family could be found in the inn, so they shelter among livestock. The circumstances are strikingly humble, yet their infant is the occasion of the angels’ song:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude
of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom God favours!”

Luke 2:13-14

The splendour of Christmas highlights many contrasts in our surroundings. First of all – it is all about what we are given – surprisingly – by God. This revelation of glory in heaven is given to people living off the land, dependent on simple blessings found in fields and farmyards, in caring for sheep and celebrating a new birth. It is they who first hear the promise of so much more than bare survival or the simplest pleasure. They dare to imagine the real possibility of peace on earth. The song of angels encourages them to give glory to God alone and to seek peace with others, far and near.

Conditions in the world today are marked by contrasts at least as great as those in Jesus’ time. Everywhere we see wildly contradictory instances of poverty and wealth, systems of tyranny and of justice, brutal violence and sincere attempts at reconciliation. Through it all, we are keenly aware of the need for a peace worthy of the name: just peace for all.

In this season, and in looking to the New Year, we in the World Council of Churches find encouragement in the potential for seeking peace that is to be afforded in May 2011 at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in Kingston, Jamaica. Taking as its motto “Glory to God; Peace on Earth”, the IEPC will serve as a culmination of the churches’ Decade for Overcoming Violence (2001-2010) and an occasion to renew our common commitment to the establishment of a just peace among peoples.

We encourage you to make certain your church is participating in the IEPC as all WCC member churches have been invited to send representatives to the convocation. For the World Council of Churches, peace is a vital part of living the fellowship and building Christian unity.

In these days we hear anew the opening accounts in the life of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Our hearts and spirits are refreshed once more. In response, we rededicate ourselves to the praise of God in highest heaven and to our ministries of peace on earth.

May the blessing of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you always.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary,
World Council of Churches

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A Litany for use during an election campaign

A member of my congregation has made me aware of this excellent litany, produced by the Liturgical Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia. I believe it deserves a wider use:

Lord of every time and place, God of integrity and truth,
we pray for wisdom as we prepare to vote in the Federal election.

Let us give thanks to God, saying, ‘we thank you, Lord’.

For this land and the diversity of its peoples,
we thank you, Lord.

For all who work for peace and justice in this land,
we thank you, Lord.

For leaders who serve the common good,
we thank you, Lord.

For robust democracy and freedom to participate in public life,
we thank you, Lord.

For media scrutiny and open debate,
we thank you, Lord.

Let us pray to the Lord, saying, ‘Hear us, good Lord’.

Bless those who administer the electoral process,
that they may uphold fairness, honesty and truth.
Hear us, good Lord.

Impart your wisdom to all who propose policy,
that their promises may serve those in greatest need.
Hear us, good Lord.

Give integrity to party leaders, candidates and campaign workers,
and keep them from deceit and corruption.
Hear us, good Lord.

Protect all engaged in public life, with their families, friends and colleagues,
that nothing may demean or do them harm.
Hear us, good Lord.

Direct those who influence opinion through the media,
that we may listen, speak and vote with sound minds.
Hear us, good Lord.

The Litany concludes with one or both of these prayers:

Lord of every time and place, God beyond our dreaming,
we pray for wisdom as we prepare to vote in the Federal election.
Give us a Parliament committed to the priorities of your kingdom,
so that peace, compassion, truth and justice may prevail among us,
and make us a blessing to all peoples, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

God, bless Australia,
guard our people
guide our leaders
and give us peace;
for Jesus Christ’’s sake.  Amen.

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Friday fragments — 9 April 2010

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today, 9 April, is the day the Uniting Church remembers the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran pastor, theologian and martyr under the Nazis; this was the day of his birth into eternal life. Read about his life here and be inspired.


Assembly Update

April Assembly Update is out — read it here to see the latest from the Uniting Church Assembly.


‘Something Wondrous is Afoot’

Easter has fifty days, so here is an Easter reflection from the wonderful Kathleen Norris.


A common date for Easter

Eastern and Western churches calculate Easter in basically the same way, yet the dates are often different. This is because the West uses the Gregorian calendar, while the East sticks to the older (and less accurate) Julian Calendar to date Easter.

Thirteen years ago, a consultation at Aleppo, Syria proposed a basis for a common date which would use the most accurate astronomical timing. Their hope was the the year 2000 would see it happen. We’re still waiting! This year and next, Easter falls on the same day for both East and West. Let’s pray for a common dates from now on!


Dear Pope: Call me!

Not me, no, but Rev Dr Marie Fortune who has written perceptively on the change of heart needed in the light of the child abuse scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church.

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Hooray for Rowan Williams on the ordination of women

Speaking in Rome, Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury) is absolutely spot on:

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday made his most outspoken challenge to the Roman Catholic Church since the Pope invited disaffected Anglicans to switch to Rome.

Speaking before he meets Benedict XVI tomorrow, Dr Rowan Williams told a conference in Rome that the Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women was a bar to Christian unity.

“For many Anglicans, not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women,” he said.

This really needs to be said, said often and said loudly!


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Australian Consultation on Liturgy 2009

This time last week I was sitting in historic Trinity College in balmy Melbourne (not!) at the 2009 meeting of ACOL, the Australian Consultation on Liturgy ACOL was inaugurated in 1976 and exists to help member churches to deepen their understanding of their own and other churches’ worship. Among other things, it also monitors the use in Australia of the Revised Common Lectionary (1992) and the common worship texts in Praying Together (1988). ACOL is the local chapter of the English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC), which has international oversight of the Revised Common Lectionary.

More churches were represented than in any previous meeting of ACOL: Anglican, Baptist, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and Uniting. Apologies were received from the Churches of Christ.

We heard about work on prayers concerning the environment from the Anglican Church, services in house churches, translation issues, the way the Salvation Army is more looking at the Lectionary and the Christian year, and our Short Guide for Daily Prayer and our new ordination services. Meetings such as ACOL give the churches venues to share and understand one another better, and so further the mission of God.

After that, I met up with friends old and new and then went to Romsey, where I shared the next day with Rev Dr Avril Hannah-Jones, also preaching at Lancefield Uniting Church. A very good weekend!

Liturgical websites of member churches of ACOL (national groups in bold):
Anglican Church: Commission on Liturgy
Baptist Church: Laughingbird Resources
Greek Orthodox: St Andrews Orthodox Press (a download file)
Lutheran Church: Commission on Worship
Roman Catholic Church: Liturgy Commission
Presbyterian Church of Australia: Public Worship and Aids to Devotion
Salvation Army: Worship
Uniting Church: The Working Group on Worship

Enjoy browsing!

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Episcopal visit to Centenary UC!

It’s not every day—indeed, not every decade—that a bishop of the Church of England preaches in a suburban Uniting Church congregation. But such was the case at Centenary UC yesterday!  

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is here to deliver the 2008 Rollie Busch lecture, entitled “Conviction and Conflict: Islam, Christianity and World Order”, and to dialogue with Mohamad Abdalla, of the Kuraby Mosque tomorrow at Griffith University.He is Bishop of Rochester, in Kent, and showed himself to be a gentleman and a gentle man when he visited us.

He preached an Easter message of real hope, and encouraged us as an Easter people in living and witnessing in continuity with the life and message of the first apostles. His sermon was not without humour—he wondered what it meant to come to a Uniting Church as a bishop of the C of E, and likened it to a recent invitation to the Tower of London. Two of his predecessors went to the Tower in times past, and did not emerge alive!

However, Bishop Michael did emerge alive from among us (none the worse for wear, thankfully!), and we are looking forward to his lecture tonight.

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