3 March 2014 DVD series “Exploring Open Christianity” Episode 3: ‘Exploring the future of a faith community’ with Peter Kennedy

Father Peter Kennedy is a RC Priest who was removed from St Mary’s in South Brisbane by his archbishop – see here.  Hundreds of members followed him to form “St Mary’s in Exile” which after 3 years was thriving – see also here and still is today.

Peter was called originally as a prison chaplain and as administrator to St Mary’s which was very small at the time.  This work led Peter to develop an affinity for people who are ‘marginalised’ and an increasing sense of the injustices faced by those on the periphery of society.  This lead him to slowly but steady change the liturgies (and furniture) at St Mary’s to reflect this emphasis – on welcoming and encouraging participation and exploration by all.  He noted – as we have previously – that Jesus used open ‘table fellowship’. Increasing, the liturgy contained contemplation, mediation and then mystical elements.  For Peter, mysticism is the future for Christianity – away from doctrines and dogmas, atonement theology and a church hierarchy which claims to be the only channel to connect with God (compared with mystics who claim a direct connection).  Exclusive church hierarchy results in a structure that leaves church members to just “pray, pay and obey”.  Mysticism is a common thread through all religions.

Peter has great affinity with Harvey Cox’s book ‘The Future of Faith’ – (see a review here) – involving small groups meeting together leaving hierarchies behind.  His last point was a discussion on duality – v – oneness.  It took us a while to get a handle on the concept of oneness – basically we as individuals are not separate entities within the living world but integral parts of it.  There is no ‘me’, no small self, but one ‘large self’. Ego gets in the way.  See Eckhart Tolle and here.  We need to surrender to this truth if we are to achieve real inner peace.  The secular is becoming sacred.

Ian Harris

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