Uniting Church joins National Redress Scheme

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan announced yesterday that the Uniting Church will opt in to the Federal Government’s National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse. The National Redress Scheme was one of the recommendations arising from the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

The full text of the Uniting Church media release is here: 180604_UCA_redress_opt-in

More information about the National Redress Scheme here

You can read about some of the other recommendations from the Royal Commission here

The Culture of Safety Unit for the VicTas Synod (UCA) has more information about reporting processes and resources to ensure that our congregations are safe places for all.

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A breath of fresh care

What do a parachute, the Lectionary Text for the day and a model for pastoral care have in common?

Quite a bit, it would seem.

The theme for Sunday 27th May was exploring a ministry of creative care for Sophia’s Spring – the parachute was a means to link each person with those across the room and provide a breath of care to each and everyone including those who were not with us on Sunday.

Connection, care, and joy to celebrate the delight of belonging in the family of Sophia.

Jan and Kay will continue their creative ministry with Sophia’s Spring through June and July.

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Earth Hour – 8.30pm this Saturday (March 24)

An Invitation: Wherever on the planet you are – turn your lights off  from 8.30pm to 9.30pm (1 Hour), Saturday, March 24 – to unite with others in demonstrating our commitment to the earth in reducing the effects of climate change.


More information here

Join the Facebook event here

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Deep Ecology Ritual

Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 6:00 pm
CERES Environment Park, Melbourne, Australia, 3057View Full Map

A ritual to empower creative action for the environment.

*Are you an activist looking for a place to find a nourishing and supportive community?
*Are you a person of faith interested in exploring the connection between spirit and environment?
*Do you want to participate in environmental ritual suited to the 21st century?

Join us at the CERES urban oasis to explore deep ecology rituals inspired by Buddhist activist and teacher Joanna Macy and her “Work That Reconnects”.

This first ritual will focus on gratitude. We hope to follow with further rituals over the year.

Gratitude Ritual: 6pm – 7pm
Nibbles and discussion: 7pm – 8pm
Suggested donation of $5 – $10

“The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.”
― Joanna Macy

Hosted by CERES, Sophia’s Spring and the Australian Religious response to Climate Change (ARRCC) in the CERES Learning Centre.

view on facebook


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Sophia’s Spring welcomes Jan and Kay

Last Sunday was the start of a three month Intentional Creative Ministry that Jan Sebastian and Kay Quisenberry will undertake with the Sophia’s Spring community.  Jan and Kay are no strangers to Sophia’s Spring. We have enjoyed their gentle and joyous presence on many occasions, so it is with real delight that we welcome them as friends to this period of leadership for us.

As a feminist community, we acknowledge that divinity is found in the world, in finite, embodied life.  One of the areas that Jan and Kay will particularly focus on is further exploration of just how our embodied lives matter, particularly in the context of our theology and practices during our Sunday morning services.  Jan suggests that some of the ways that this might be done are through:
~ exploring and inspiring embodied expressions of the lectionary
~ incorporating creative reflections with interaction
~ visual sermons
~ congregational movement and embodied prayer
~ encouragement of sharing the gifts and graces of those gathered
~ contextually crafted services of celebration or lament and all in between

Jan is an ordained Uniting Church Minister. She has a wide experience of ministry, with congregations and also as a hospital chaplain. A trained dancer, she studied sacred dance and other worship arts in the United States but completed her candidature for ministry here in Melbourne.  A clear aspect of her ministry, she understands, ‘is to facilitate people  into a space of mystery in an intentional and wholistic way.’

Kay also has a background in dance, particularly sacred dance.  The focus of her Masters thesis was the Women’s Ceremonial Dances of Elcho Island. Jan and Kay have been friends and colleagues in ministry for 26 years but four years ago began offering short term periods of Intentional Creative Ministry to congregations within the Synod of VicTas. This ministry is characterised by colour, energy, humour and the offering of space to reflect in an experiential way.  Invitation to movement is also a feature of this ministry they offer. Jan says “movement has the potential to disarm the heart and free our bodies to soar in spirit, something that is deeper than words”.  Sophia’s Spring is glad, and grateful, to be given the opportunity to experience this creative intentional ministry.

Over the next three months, Jan will be leading two services per month. She will also be available for pastoral conversations.  Her contact details are Phone: 0448 291 533 and email: jansebastian4@aol.com

Photo shows Kay in purple and Jan in green with a Sophia’s Spring banner made by Stella Watson

Photo taken by Di Gilbert

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Sophia’s Spring celebrates midsumma festival

Midsumma Festival is Victoria’s premier LGBTQIA+ cultural festival, made for and by communities who live with shared experiences around diverse gender and sexuality.  At Sophia’s Spring we think diverse gender and sexuality is definitely something to celebrate, and so we do with a Sunday morning service, in the usual time and place.

at 10am

Learning Centre, CERES Environment Park
(Continuation of Lee St, East Brunswick)

  Guest Speaker: Rev. Dr Robert Stringer
from the Uniting LGBTIQ Network who will speak on
Marriage Equality – the Bible and the Church.

The Service will celebrate Marriage Equality in Australian law and discuss   the issues now confronting the Uniting Church in Australia whose current marriage law still affirms that marriage is between a man and a woman. These issues are also on the Agenda of the upcoming Uniting Church in Australia Assembly which will meet here in Melbourne in July this year. There will be an opportunity for questions and discussion during the service.    

All Welcome!   

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Blessing of the Animals

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Learning Centre, CERES


Bring your pet (or animal photo) for a blessing.  The blessing ceremony will take place outside the Learning Centre at CERES and will start at 10am. Barbara Allen, first Chaplain of the Lort Smith Animal Hospital, author and current Creation & Spirituality Project Worker for the Synod of VicTas will be our guest for the day.

After the animal blessing there will be a service during which Barbara will share with us her first prize winning reflection, “Animals have a biography as well as a biology”.  Pets and their owners may stay for this, or go for a walk around CERES, returning at 11am for morning tea.

All animals and humans welcome!

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Earth Hour – Saturday, March 25 8.30-9.30pm (local time)

Earth Hour launched in Sydney in 2007, with 2.2 million people and 2,100 businesses participating in the ‘lights off’ event. Just one year later, Earth Hour became a global phenomenon with over 35 countries, and an estimated 50-100 million people participating.

2017 will mark the 10th anniversary of Earth Hour as a global phenomenon. What started as an Aussie idea has grown into a global force of nature, that is now celebrated in over 172 countries and over 7,000 cities and towns worldwide. The symbolic hour has grown into the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, with beyond-the-hour projects and initiatives happening throughout the year.

Earth Hour is a great home-grown success story: an Aussie campaign designed to draw attention to tackling global warming and get people talking about what we can do to help.

In Australia, Earth Hour is something that really brings communities together, with 1 in every 4 Aussies taking part. In 2016, millions of Australians took part in Earth Hour to show their support for a low pollution, clean energy future, one in which we can continue to enjoy the best of nature and our great Aussie outdoor lifestyle.

Switch off to #JoinTheFuture.  8.30pm – 9.30pm Saturday, March 25.

for more information, ideas and events http://earthhour.org.au

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World Poetry Day

Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling,
recharge desire. ~ Adrienne Rich

Held every year on 21 March, World Poetry Day celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity. Practiced throughout history – in every culture and on every continent – poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.

UNESCO  first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999, with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard.

World Poetry Day is the occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence between poetry and other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media.  As poetry continues to bring people together across continents, all are invited to join in.

Director General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, in her Message on World Poetry Day 2017,
speaks of the power of poetry to ‘shake us from everyday life, to remind us of the beauty that surrounds us and the resilience of the shared human spirit.’

In writing about the importance of poetry, poet Adrienne Rich wrote:

Poetry has the capacity to remind us of something we are forbidden to see. A forgotten future: a still uncreated site whose moral architecture is founded not on ownership and dispossession, the subjection of women, outcast and tribe, but on continuous redefining of freedom….

There is always that in poetry which will not be grasped, which cannot be described, which survives our ardent attention, our critical theories, our late-night arguments.  (whole article here)

And perhaps it is this part of poetry that puts some people off.  Because they can not discern ‘the’ meaning, or make rational sense of it,  the poem is discarded. That’s a mistake:  not to recognise that some of the magic of poetry is that it speaks to the part of our brain that does not deal in analytics, does not stand on solid ground and is not linear. When I was a young woman I read TS Eliot everyday – like some people might read their Bible.  One day I was asked to host a visiting scholar and to take this man and his wife to see the sights of the beautiful coastal region in which I lived.  In the course of the day’s conversation, he told me about being a student at a lecture given by TS Eliot in which Eliot said something about other people understanding his poetry more than he himself did; that he didn’t always know exactly what he meant.  This cheered me greatly and the remembrance of it allows me to give myself permission just to ‘sit with a poem’, to listen to it, feel it, see it and allow it to speak to me – to move me – and to take from it what resonates – without judgement – much like I would a painting.  The poems I like best have layers and layers. They could say something different to me each time I come to them – and yet, at another level remain mysterious.  Poetry comes from and connects mostly with the right side of the brain – our Western culture mostly privileges the left side of the brain. Jill Bolte-Taylor does an amazing job in talking and demonstrating (with a real brain) the difference in the way the two sides of the brain function in her TED talk  (here  if video below missing)

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Anyway, Happy World Poetry Day!

I’m going to finish this post with a fun poem, that is not too hard to grasp,  written by my beautiful friend John Pfitzner (1942-2013)


for Graham, who is mad on sport
but sees no use for poetry

You’re right, there’s no point
to poetry. It’s as useless

as a Michael Clarke cover drive
with dancing footwork,
body balanced, head steady,
weight gliding to the front foot,
the almost lazy sweep of the bat,
the perfect timing and rhythm,
the flow of the follow-through,
the seemingly effortless elegance,

which changes nothing, adds nothing
to the sum of human knowledge,
rights no wrongs, cures no diseases,
provides no food for the starving,

as pointless as a poem
with language that dances down the pitch,
gives itself room and launches
its outrageous idea, its subtle
observation high over midwicket
and into the members stand
with perfect timing, rhythm and
seemingly effortless eloquence.




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International Women’s Day – March 8

While International Women’s Day is often seen as a day to celebrate women, and their achievements, it is important not to lose sight of the political edge that this day has always had. The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York. It was organized by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the 1908 garment workers’ strike, where women protested against working conditions.  More about the history of International Women’s Day can be found  here and more about the history and relevance of IWD here

Also connected to the Garment Industry and the history of International Women’s Day, was the 1911 women’s ‘Bread and Roses’ campaign. The term ‘Bread and Roses’ comes from a poem by Robert Oppenheimer written in 1911.  But the idea of “Bread and Roses” speaks of the deep human desire, not merely for the necessities of life, but for the creation of, and participation in, a world, community, and society of beauty.  We need bread, we need shelter, we need clothes to keep us warm. But we also need to satisfy the deeper part of our human nature that longs for nourishment.  The desire for leisure, meaningful friendship, music, art, and the time to pursue the particular interests and hobbies that fulfill us and lead us down a course of wholeness lie at the heart of “Roses”.  These are legitimate desires that need satisfaction and the working class must fight, not only for the right to the necessities of life, but also for the right to enjoy the things that often only the rich have the time and money for.

I enjoyed reading NITV’s list of 20 trailblazing Indigenous women who have changed Australia.  Like me, you can probably think of names you could add to this list. And there are many Indigenous women who will never make a list like this but are doing the hard yards, tackling hard issues, making a difference in the lives of their communities.  Let us remember them, too.

The IWD 2017 campaign theme is  #BeBoldForChange and are challenging us all to work towards a more gender inclusive world.  There is a list of events – to find ones near you search the drop down box for your city/suberb.  Here

There will be an IWD march in Melbourne, 5.30-7.30 at Parliament House, Spring Street
details here, particularly worth checking out are the 10 areas listed where change and  justice are being called for.

And the IWDA blog has a piece  5 reasons to march on IWD, and another on other ways to protest gender inequality and to stand up for women’s rights if you cant attend the march. In fact, the International Women’s Development Agency Blog has lots worth reading. I recommend it.

In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the January 2017 Women’s March, in cities all over the world, women are again joining together in a campaign to make March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to  socio-economic systems–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.

Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways:

  1. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labour
  2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
  3. Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman

    social media #DayWithoutAWoman   more information about this campaign on www.womensmarch.com

And if you would like to donate to a charity that works towards improving the lives of women and girls in countries less well off than ours, the UN Women’s website offers an opportunity for this here

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