Category Archives: Progressive Christian

About Progressive Christianity, especially in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australasia

Progressive Christianity transforms the world…

From ProgressiveChristianity.org

Progressive Christianity transforms the world and individuals by:

  • Teaching and spreading a path of joy and loving kindness.
  • Reclaiming a compassion based Christianity.
  • Taking a stand against exclusion, hate, ignorance, and violence through our writings, resources, and letters to newspapers and political offices.
  • Recognizing and speaking about Jesus as a historic teacher and activist.
  • Encouraging peaceful and positive inter-faith relations through education and events.
  • Nourishing a deep spirituality in children through our curricula and educational resources.
  • Building and supporting community around intention and meaningful action through our global network, events, and partners.
  • Encouraging the protection and restoration of our earth home through our curricula, resources, and events.

a-gift-for-the-planet

Better domain name!

We’ve upgraded the website to an easier-to-remember domain name and no ads version. Find us now at: progressivechristianityaotearoa.com.

Registration for next year’s conference will be via this site, and we wanted you to have an easier website name to go to.

Our email address is still progressivechristianitynz@gmail.com. Save it to your Contacts list now!

Pohutukawa blossom

 

Why “Progressive” – aren’t we all Christians?

The self-described “progressives” among America’s Protestant clergy at the turn of the twentieth century were well known in church circles and beyond for their advanced thinking on theology, politics, and foreign affairs.

As they faced the prospect of a new century, these ministers and academics thought of themselves as broad-minded, humane, and cosmopolitan, in harmony with the very best scientific, political, and theological wisdom of the age.

– Richard M. Gamble quoted by Fred Plumer

Christians – Dangerous or Boring?

Tony_Franlin-RossTony Franklin-Ross shares some thoughts from the recent NZ Common Dreams Conference in Napier – first printed in Methodist Touchstone

Faith as resistance to ego, orthodoxy and the political status quo was the theme of a Progressive Spirituality NZ conference that was held in Napier on 6-8 May.  The gathering drew 122 people from around New Zealand, and they heard a number of speakers address the topic.

The keynote speaker was US author Rev Dr Robin Meyers, who is known for his books The Underground Church, Saving Jesus from the Church, and Spiritual Defiance. Robin criticises the church for neglecting the initial concept of Jesus’ Way, in favour of beliefs and dogma that were created later.

He suggests the Beatitudes is closer to the creed of the early followers of the Jesus Way, along with the affirmations ‘Jesus is Lord’ and ‘Caesar is not’. Christianity was initially not a belief system but a peculiar way of being in the world.

Robin also criticised contemporary empires that protect the majority and the status quo in a broken world. Rather than be content to benefit from such structures, the Church should meet in joyful defiance to the political and economic prophets of power, he says.

Jim McAloon provided examples of faith-based resistance in Aotearoa. These include the Peace Squadron, the anti-Apartheid movement, and the Hikoi of Hope, as well as earlier reforms against sweated labour, peace movements, and the development of the welfare state as ‘applied Christianity’.

Playwright and actor Jo Randerson explored the place of art. Is art just nice decoration, the icing on the cake of society, or can it be used to challenge, question and disrupt the status quo? Jo says the arts can provide different voices and explore different possibilities.

Be wary of the seeds sewn into the fabric of the Bible that can be used to suppress, exploit and dominate. This was the message Robert Myles brought to the conference. Robert says the Bible is used to support reaction and revolution.

How can the Bible be used to counter current politics and economic inequality, rather than romanticise Jesus’ poverty as a way of life?

While the conference stirred cerebral activity, counter-point moments were provided through pop-up engagement with the works of Shakespeare and workshops on drama, dance, art, walking and meditation.  The conference dinner was embellished with spiritual songs, themselves voices of resistance and hope, performed by the Napier Community Gospel Choir.

It is hard to do justice to two days of stimulating presentations and conversation. Challenges were laid and questions asked:

  • How do prophetic voices of resistance get translated into action?
  • Does the church need to do a rummage sale of the things in its attics of orthodoxy?
  • Jesus’ people were once anti-imperial, a thorn in the side of the establishment.

Have Christians gone from being dangerous to be being boring?

United Church in Canada and Gretta Vosper

UNITED CHURCH REFUSES TO HEAR APPEAL OF REVEREND VOSPER

The Rev. Gretta Vosper, an ordained United Church of Canada minister who believes in neither God nor the Bible. Photo courtesy of Gretta Vosper
The Rev. Gretta Vosper, an ordained United Church of Canada minister who believes in neither God nor the Bible. Photo courtesy of Gretta Vosper

After deliberating for more than three months, having received ten volumes of materials consisting of approximately 1700 pages of written submissions, this week the United Church of Canada appeal court (the Judicial Committee Executive) issued a one-page decision refusing, without reasons, to hear Reverend Gretta Vosper’s appeal.

Rev. Vosper is the Minister of West Hill United Church (“West Hill”), located in Scarborough and within the Toronto Conference of the UCC. Rev. Vosper is a self-described atheist who believes in a metaphorical god instead of the traditional theistic vision of god.

Continue reading United Church in Canada and Gretta Vosper

Tips for starting a Local Progressive Group

Extracts from Tips for starting and maintaining a local group from the global network ProgressiveChristianity.org

progressive christianity logoBe able to say in a sentence or two why you want to form the group. For example, do you want to deepen your understanding of the progressive approach to Christianity, be able to articulate a progressive viewpoint in conversations with others, create a supporting community, enhance your ability to strive for peace and justice in the world, some combination of these, or do you have some other objective?  Get clear about what you want to be about. Continue reading Tips for starting a Local Progressive Group

Light in the Midst of Darkness

Fred Plumer reflects on Christmas on 22 December 2014

For decades, I felt compelled to explain that December 25 was really not the date Jesus was born. I suspect I have ruined Christmas mornings for more than one parishioner. But I thought it was important… Over the last few years, I have begun to think that celebrating Jesus’ birthday on the same holiday of Sol Invictus or the Winter Solstice was actually a good idea and in some ways appropriate…

Jesus entered the world in a dark time in human history, particularly for his own people, the Jews…  few of us can even begin to grasp how hopeless and dark the world must have seemed to those oppressed people…

It was into this great darkness that Yeshua entered the world. In spite of his humble beginning, somewhere along the way he managed to bring a new light, a new perspective to many of his followers…

Continue reading Light in the Midst of Darkness