RESEARCH AREAS

Exploring Liturgy has five major research concerns:

1. Aboriginal Christian ritual

One of the essential expressions of Christian ritual here in Australia is the embracing (and sometimes non-embracing) of Christian worship into indigenous Aboriginal cultures. The doing of Christianity is integral to many Aboriginal communities, and Aboriginal Christians contribute rich gifts to the larger culture. Yet the intersections of Indigenous and Christian ritual life are unjustly neglected and little documented in theological study. While we recognise that there are both ethical and practical difficulties to bear in mind, we believe the attempt to engage in learning from Aboriginal people is crucial to our Australian context.

  Photograph by Stephen Burns. Cross of reconciliation, United Theological College, North Parramatta .

Photograph by Stephen Burns. Cross of reconciliation, United Theological College, North Parramatta.

2. Diasporic worship

Worshipping traditions move with migrating persons, and to one extent or another, with more or less intention, are adjusted to and reconciled with Australian (or other) settings. Sometimes they are deliberate incursions of reverse mission. These dynamics are a major dimension of the Australian Christian scene, and yet are little studied in theology in Australia, despite the potential of migrant Christians to contribute greatly to the renewal and revitalisation of the ecclesial traditions into which they insert themselves or which they come to challenge.

  Photograph by Catherine Schieve. Icon of Ethiopian church Melbourne.

Photograph by Catherine Schieve. Icon of Ethiopian church Melbourne.

3. Emergent worship

Nomenclature shifts around this approach, known as "alternative," "emergent-," or "ancient-future" worship. By whatever name adopted, this style of worship involves the employment of varied liturgical traditions in intentionally hybrid ("remixed") ways, oftentimes allied to "fresh expressions of church" and strong local missional consciousness. There are crucial lessons in it for the future of Christian worship in Australia.

  The Crossing: Episcopal church in Boston. Photo from their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thecrossingboston/

The Crossing: Episcopal church in Boston. Photo from their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thecrossingboston/

4. Interfaith ritual

Based in Melbourne, we are a part of one of the most multicultural regions in the world. So the idea and practice of "interfaith" can be particularly rich here. One approach embraced in this research is the idea of interfaith pilgrimage--we have the opportunity to visit, experience, and describe a range and depth of ritual and ceremony across cultures from many national origins, now living side by side in Australia. The word interfaith can also refer to a hybrid ritual, bringing diverse faith practices together.
      Interfaith understanding is a crucial dimension of peaceable community life. Its ritual expression can be extraordinarily rich and varied, while also fraught with questions about tradition-specific formation. It has sometimes been enlarged by the intentional practice of "interpath" (not faith-based, but ideologically oriented) dialogue and gathering, in proposals for "secular assembly" by "religious athiests." We're curious about that too.

  Photograph by Catherine Schieve. Multilingual welcome sign, Stupa of Universal Compassion, Bendigo.

Photograph by Catherine Schieve. Multilingual welcome sign, Stupa of Universal Compassion, Bendigo.

5. Neo-Pentecostal worship

Contemporary Australian Chrstianity is strongly marked by neo-Pentecostal expressions of worship, which are one of the country's best-known "exports" to global Christianity. Hillsong, especially, has been transported around the world. Yet neo-Pentecostal liturgical style is curiously under-represented in liturgical study.
     Neo-Pentecostalism has also generated the major (but not the only) model of growing so-called "lifestyle churches" niched in particular subcultures and the focus of many current missional initiatives. It is important to understand and learn from.

  P  hotograph by Catherine Schieve. Connect Church, Bendigo.

Photograph by Catherine Schieve. Connect Church, Bendigo.

 

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