St Michael's Uniting Church, Melbourne

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St Michael's Uniting Church, Melbourne

St. Michael’s Uniting Church is a Uniting Church in Australia church in Collins St in central Melbourne, Australia. Originally the Collins Street Independent Church, a Congregational Union of Australia church, and later Collins Street Uniting Church, it has become well known as a centre of liberal theology and political radicalism under its outspoken minister since 1971, Dr Francis Macnab, currently Executive Minister. The church became a congregation of the Uniting Church in Australia at its inception in 1977.

History

The first church on this site was built in 1839, one of the first churches in the Port Phillip District (now the state of Victoria). The original church was demolished in 1866 to make way for the larger church now on the site. The church was designed by Joseph Reed, who also designed the Melbourne Town Hall and the Royal Exhibition Building. The church is classified by the National Trust of Australia.

Architecture

The building is in the Lombardic architectural style, with multi-coloured exterior brickwork, open cloisters on the side of the building and Romanesque arches.

The interior of the church was designed in accordance with the principles of the Congregationalist Church, as a place where all members of the congregation could both hear and see the preacher. It features a sloping floor with tiered seating and a gallery to increase the capacity of the church. The church underwent major renovations in the 1970s. It is now undergoing further renovations to its exterior structure.

Psychological services

Opened in 1991, "Mingary - the Quiet Place" is a contemplative space at St Michael's. Mingary also offers low cost counselling under the supervision of the Manager Pyschologist Dr Lynette Kramer. Mingary is run in conjunction with the Cairnmillar Institute and the Australian Foundation for Aftermath Reactions, both of which Dr Macnab founded. The minister since 1971, Dr Macnab holds degrees in psychology and is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society.

Theology

In September 2008, Dr Macnab of St Michael's Uniting Church launched what he called a "new faith" with a $120,000 advertising campaign including posters reading, "The Ten Commandments, one of the most negative documents ever written." Dr Macnab described Moses as a mass murderer, Abraham as concocted and Jesus as a Jewish peasant and certainly not God.

Reaction

The Moderator of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Rev Kioa described Dr Macnab's comments challenging the divinity of Jesus as questioning some of the faith's most basic beliefs, turning away from 2000 years of "orthodox Christian belief." Other members of the Synod published their concerns.

The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania voted to request St Michael's Uniting Church to remove advertising for its new faith and apologise to Jews, Christians and Muslims for the comments it contained about the Ten Commandments. The Uniting Church did not move to discipline Dr Macnab because no formal complaint had been received.

The Kirk Session of Scots' Church published a reply defending the Ten Commandments from "he most incredible publicity war... being waged against the historic Christian faith." They installed a poster outlining the influence of the Ten Commandments on their Russell Street frontage facing towards St. Michael's.

Dr Macnab's response

In an address on 5 October Dr Macnab defended his comments, including against suggestions they were offensive to Jews, citing his study in undergraduate and postgraduate work in Hebrew language and history, including distinctions, and saying "Some of the comments have been knee-jerk reactions, uninformed and heavily overloaded with bad manners." He also stated, "While I have no intention of denigrating the Ten Commandments as a sacred symbol of the Jewish Torah and the Old Covenant, I say they are negative." He gave 8 reasons why he believes the Ten Commandments to be negative, and outlined his alternative 10 Commandments, which he described as "positive, plausible and powerful"

Building Activity

  • Kiril Pavlov
    Kiril Pavlov activity.buildings_person.create
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com