Category Archives: Progressive Christian

About Progressive Christianity, especially in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australasia

Parliament of the World’s Religions

Read about the Parliament of the World’s Religions – Salt Lake City 2015 http://www.parliamentofreligions.org/

See the latest from the Charter for Compassion on Compassionate Communities http://progressivespirituality.co.nz/interfaith-compassion-community/

Sign the Charter: https://charterforcompassion.org/the-charter

 

 

General Assembly 2014 “From the Outside”

From Kotukutuku in Spring blog:

The current situation is one where there is space for only one point of view.

…I’m glad that there is a desire to do things differently… But I wish a dramatic stand had been taken before Assembly. Or I wish that a symbolic action, a disruption, could have happened without walking out. I think only a different sort of conversation will help us move forward, but it needs to happen alongside Assembly processes, because that is where decisions are made. For a diversity of views to be respected, General Assembly will need to vote to change the rules.

Rob reminds us (after Edward Hayes) to associate with the hopeful.

Continue reading General Assembly 2014 “From the Outside”

Listening to 1st Century voices: Jewish & Christian attitudes to same-sex relations

From Doug Burtenshaw, Convenor, UCA Lay Preachers Association, WA:

Below is a YouTube link which is from a well regarded voice in the sexuality debate.
Now available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHN7v54bGzQ   

Continue reading Listening to 1st Century voices: Jewish & Christian attitudes to same-sex relations

New from Karen Armstrong: ‘Fields of Blood’

From a book review by Mark Juergensmeyer in the Washington Post:

“The recent rise of religious images in political conflict around the globe has led to a surprising religiophobia, as if religion itself were inherently violent. To this simplistic point of view, Karen Armstrong has written an elegant and powerful response. “Fields of Blood” is not just a defense of religion, but also an exploration of the relation between religion and the history of violence over the centuries. It is a book both erudite and accurate, dazzling in its breadth of knowledge and historical detail. Though it does not give all of the answers to the curious relationship between religion and violence, it sets us on the right path.

“Armstrong begins with the obvious truth that religion doesn’t do anything by itself. It’s not a thing but simply a dimension of human experience.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/book-review-fields-of-blood-by-karen-armstrong/2014/10/23/a098e374-4d90-11e4-aa5e-7153e466a02d_story.html

Continue reading New from Karen Armstrong: ‘Fields of Blood’

St Luke’s on GA14 decision: “…we have not, will not, and cannot turn sexual minorities away”

“…we have not, will not, and cannot turn sexual minorities away. We will continue to welcome all people into our community, including all who are called into leadership, all who wish to be baptised, and all who wish to be married.”

From An Open Letter to the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, on behalf of the Parish Council of the Community of St Luke, Remuera:

“The decisions taken by General Assembly 2014 are deeply offensive to sexual minorities, deeply offensive to all those who are the parents, grandparents, partners, children, grandchildren, and Christian brothers and sisters of sexual minorities, and deeply offensive to all who believe on the basis of sound scholarship and experience that sexual diversity is a given to be accepted, welcomed and celebrated.

“The decision of General Assembly concerning marriage is also contrary to the clear tradition of Presbyterianism regarding Liberty of Conscience, the clear guidance of our Doctrine Core Group, and the clear wishes of our elected national leaders, namely the Moderator and Moderator-Designate.”

http://www.stlukes.org.nz/

https://www.facebook.com/standrewsontheterrace

 

Presbyterian General Assembly 2014

Glynn Cardy on Facebook

Here’s our Moderator, Andrew Norton’s, take on what went on regarding the ‘debate’ on sexuality, leadership and marriage:

“Concerning our ongoing debate on sexuality related issues, General Assembly decided that ministers may conduct marriage only between a man and woman. A new rule, effective immediately, has been added to the Book of Order to further clarify the decision: “a minister may solemnise marriage only between a man and woman”.

Yet at the same time we witnessed another significant divide in the church. During the debate a significant proportion of the commissioners chose, as an act of silent protest, to surrender their votes and leave the debating chamber.

30% of commissioners chose not to vote. These people – from a range of theological positions – view the ongoing debate on sexuality as an act of division and one in which they no longer want to participate.

In spite of this, the Assembly chose to continue with the debate which resulted in adopting the regulation. While the Church has been very clear over the past years on its view on matters of leadership and sexuality and the nature of marriage, our Church is now further divided on our need to become legislative which will inevitability move this debate from conversation into the disciplinary courts of the Church.

The current piece of regulation goes to the Church for further discussion over the next two years to become ratified at our next General Assembly. While I urge the church to abide by and respect the decision of Assembly, I encourage you to also seek further opportunities to engage in conversation about what kind of church we want to become in the future. How will we choose to live together in the love of Christ? How will we choose to use power through our voting system that continues to marginalise many with our own family and wider community?”

St Andrew’s on The Terrace on GA14 decision

St Andrew’s on The Terrace Presbyterian Church (Wellington) is deeply disappointed but defiant in the face of the news today that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church has voted to ban Ministers from performing marriages between same-sex couples.

“This decision is deeply disturbing and we strongly dissent from it” says St Andrew’s Parish Convenor, Sonia Groes-Petrie. “The Presbyterian tradition is for ministers to have freedom to make decisions about whom they will marry. There is a range of opinions on same-sex marriage within the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and today’s decision does not reflect that diversity.”

Interim Minister Jim Cunningham says “I’m appalled at the decision that has been made. We see sexual orientation and gender identity as irrelevant in the celebration of a couple’s union. It is the quality of the relationship, the love and commitment that matters. St Andrew’s has been blessing the relationships of same sex couples for over twenty years, celebrating civil unions since 2005 and marriages since August last year.”

The national church has been debating the implications of same-sex marriages now being legal.

“It seems incredible that the church is legislating against love. It’s embarrassing that religious organisations are the only stumbling block to full equality for same-sex couples” says St Andrew’s Parish Councillor and General Assembly representative Paul Barber.

Yes to Love website: Faithfully inclusive in Aotearoa

Ministers and celebrants of many denominations – including Presbyterian – have signed up to love and marriage equality.

The Yes to Love website ‘is a celebration of faith that is accepting and welcoming. It profiles leaders of religious and spiritual communities in Aotearoa who are saying “yes” to love and marriage equality. These are people of faith who are willing to conduct weddings for same-sex couples.’

http://yes2love.wordpress.com/

“truths that remain unknowable” – Elizabeth Dewberry

So I sit once again on the steps
outside St Louis Cathedral
and wait here, quietly, for daylight.

When it comes, I will go into the Cathedral,
into the presence of God, or of Mystery,
and a man who believes what he’s saying
will tell me what he knows of truth.

Then he will lay his hand on my forehead
and leave a tiny smudge of ashes in the center of it,
a reminder of those truths in this life that remain unknowable,

and I will open myself to mysteries greater than death
and to the possibility of believing in them again.

– Elizabeth Dewberry

Sacrament of Lies (New York: BlueHen Putnam, 2002)

“Progressive Christianity exists to be an authentic gospel voice” – Margaret Mayman

Progressive Christianity in our time has emerged through two related but distinct processes. One is a process of elimination: Christians, over the last couple of centuries, have realized that many elements of our Western culture are not essential to – or even compatible with – Christian life and belief, and we have sought to shed them. We have looked hard at the false claims of government absolutism, of slavery, of racism, sexism and homophobia and have rejected them.

The other process has been one of refocusing. Here the question isn’t “What is extraneous to our faith?” but “Where is its centre?” Our answers take different forms, but, eventually, they come back to the way Jesus united, in both his life and teaching, the two commandments to love God and to love neighbour.

The two processes may produce related results, but they are not identical. One prunes the excess at the peripheries; the other is looking for the ground of our faith. Many of us who claim the name of progressive Christians are probably more comfortable with the elimination than the search for the centre, clearer about what we don’t believe than about what we do.

We have seen how the powers-that-be have repeatedly invoked Christianity to justify their sins. We are clear that we need to reject this entanglement of Christian faith with the status quo. But simply to reject is not enough. Rejection does not inspire hope or love or delight or even intellectual coherence.

The real reason why progressive Christianity exists is not to prune away archaisms and false accretions. It exists to be an authentic gospel voice, to proclaim the good news of Jesus’ life and teaching: a vision of humanity united to the sacred and to one another in love and justice.

Rev Dr Margaret Mayman (extract from sermon, postmodern prayer?” July 2004)

beyond “our savior” – extract from a blog on “Ponderings” website

Yesterday I drove past a neighborhood church sporting the sign, “Jesus paid the price… you can keep the change.” Disconcerting  was the dissonance between the progressive denomination (United Church of Christ) and the regressive theology invoked (sacrificial atonement). Having walked away from my life in ministry just weeks earlier, I am loathe to jump into a theological conversation and I initially pass on the bait. ”To each their own,” I reply when asked to comment.

Later in the day I received an email from a former colleague, expressing his concern with theological integrity and requesting conversation. Like me, he explains, he believes Jesus about God but does not believe the church about Jesus. With this truth, he asks, how can we stand before congregations uncritically parroting phrases that infer sacrificial atonement? What, he wonders, is the price for claiming that Jesus already paid it?

Before I reply to the theological question, I must confess a personal investment.

Continue reading beyond “our savior” – extract from a blog on “Ponderings” website

How are you celebrating Matariki?

Here’s an example from St Andrew’s on The Terrace’s 2013 Matariki service:

Matariki: a time to tell our stories

What’s your story?

Do you know your own story, your birth story, your life story? Did someone tell it to you, or have you made it up from memory and experience? It’s worth keeping in mind that there are different Matariki stories, different meanings depending on the location of the tribe who tells them: in some, Matariki is a time for planting; in others, that’s not the case at all. There are many variations of the calendar and many ways the different tribes used stellar guides for their own specific environment.

So, Matariki isn’t just a time to learn the legends of the stars, fascinating as they are. Learning about family and whakapapa is also important. Around Matariki the harvests such as kumara were in, and this cold part of the year was a time for hui, for korero, to exchange stories, learn about ancestors who have passed from this world to the next, and hand down knowledge and practices to ensure the culture is preserved. Memories, good and bad, are powerful…

 

Continue reading How are you celebrating Matariki?

Ian Harris on Sir Lloyd Geering’s themes on religion

At the age of 66, when most people are thinking of retiring, Sir Lloyd Geering began a ministry to Wellington and the modern world, as principal lecturer for St Andrew’s Trust for the Study of Religion and Society.

Now 96, he delivered his valedictory lecture this month to a crowded church and a standing ovation.

His topic was ”The Evolving City”, tracing the evolution of the city from the earliest settled population clusters and the biblical city of Cain, in Genesis, to the megacities of a globalising world and the biblical vision of the City of God in Revelation. Continue reading Ian Harris on Sir Lloyd Geering’s themes on religion

Charter for Compassion Membership Challenge

“This is our first ever membership campaign. Up to now we’ve been able to build a database of supporters who have contacted us as individuals, signed up for newsletters, or signed the Charter and made contributions to the work of the Charter. We’ve relied on a few generous friends to help maintain our small staff and budget.

“In the last year, however, we’ve grown over 200%, increasing our partners from 150 to 800 and our city initiatives from 60 to 230, but our staff size has remained the same. At the same time, we have increased our on-line presence, the delivery of our newsletters, and weekly conference calls.” Continue reading Charter for Compassion Membership Challenge

progressive faith stories: Fiona’s story

againstthestreamBelonging here was a gradual process for me. Becoming more involved meant taking the risk of openness and trust. Fiona McDougal, St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Glimmers of the sacred in the form of individual conversations, moments of connection in worship and shared meals drew me on.

In particular being at the series of services over Easter offered a way to integrate the psychological abuse I had endured at work in Scotland within a larger story. Holding that painful period of my life alongside the story of Jesus’ death, the losses of others in the community, and the pain of the world, on Good Friday has been very healing. Continue reading progressive faith stories: Fiona’s story