Common Dreams Conference 2016 – “Progressive Spirituality: New Directions”

“For the last five decades, western religion has been undergoing a profound shift away from once familiar, institutionally organized forms of faith and theology towards experiential understandings and personal appropriations of the sacred made manifest in the lives of everyday people. A distinctive language has grown up around this shift – the word “religion” typically signifies religious organizations (like denominations and churches) and he word “spiritual” typically refers to encounters with God (if one is a theist), the ineffable, awe, or wonder (such as experiencing he Divine on a hike or in a sunset). Increasingly religions and spirituality have often been pitched at odds.” – Diana Butler Bass


The 4th Common Dreams Conference will bring together a large number of people with an interest in progressive religion and it follows on from successful earlier conferences in Sydney (2007), Melbourne (2010) and Canberra (2013). The theme of the conference – Progressive Spirituality: New Directions – will allow participants to explore future expressions of faith and spirituality as well as eco-theology, inter-faith dialogue, and indigenous spirituality. A series of lectures, keynote addresses and electives by a distinguished panel of International and Australian speakers will examine Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Aboriginal expressions of spirituality.

common dreamsProminent among the speakers is the well-known American writer and researcher on progressive subjects, Dr Diana Butler Bass, Professor Pamela Eisenbaum (also from USA) and the outstanding Australian theologian and writer Dr Val Webb who will give major public addresses on the evenings of the conference. These addresses will be delivered as memorials to Marcus Borg, Nigel Leaves and Ian Mavor who have all passed away since the2013 conference; each of these significant figures was a good friend and supporter of Common Dreams.

Keynote presentations will be delivered by Michael Morwood (Aus), Fred Plumer (USA), Jana Norman (Aus), Saara Sabbagh (Aus), Graeme Mundine (Aus), and Diana Butler Bass. A panel of three speakers, Lorraine Parkinson (Aus), Margaret Mayman (NZ/Aus), and Pam Eisenbaum will give reflections on spirituality with this session to be structured so as to give the audience opportunities to interact with the speakers. The electives will expand on the themes introduced in the plenary sessions through workshops, interactive discussions, and lectures; each elective will be repeated so that you won’t have to agonise over which one to select if you find there are two topics of equal interest.

For the first time, a special program for emerging generations aimed at GenYs and Millennials will be held concurrently with the main program on the Saturday afternoon of the conference. It will be led by two of Australia’s most dynamic young clergy, Matt Cutler and Lucas Taylor, together with Cassandra Farrin and Deshna Ubeda who are prominent in efforts aimed at the same demographic in USA.

A pre-conference seminar, Introduction to Progressive Religion and Common Dreams, will be offered on the Friday afternoon. This will be particularly suited to those who are at an early stage of their progressive journey or to those who have not attended earlier conferences and wish to learn more about Common Dreams.

Each morning will begin with an optional period of Reflections in the Somerville House Chapel led by Jana Norman.

A new feature has been introduced by having an Artist in Residence (Alexandra Sangster) who with others will give, at appropriate points during the conference, commentary on proceedings as poetry, drama, and song.

Click on these links for full details of the Program, Speakers and Presentation Extracts.

Register Online

Common Dreams 2016


brisbane australia

somerville house brisbane

September 16, 2016 - September 19, 2016
Somerville House
South Brisbane, Queensland Australia
Map via Google
613 9571 4575