Blog | Interfaith Church of Australia

Hi All,

I’ve had a few queries about becoming an Interfaith Minister in Australia and have decided to put as much as I can into a single blog which I can point future querents to.

 

My Journey:

Some of the reasons I consider myself an Interfaith Minister are:

  • most importantly, my initial self-dedication to my beliefs; my promises to them and their acceptances;
  • my course and subsequent ordination through another religious institution in Australia;
  • my ordination with a US religious institution;
  • my years of personal research and self-learning about religions and interfaith;
  • my involvement as the senior moderator of ‘Study Circle: Interfaith Dialogues’ one of the largest online interfaith discussion groups in the world since 2008; and
  • my founding of Interfaith Australia in 2008, which then became the Interfaith Church of Australia in 2011.

 

Other peoples Journeys:

The process they went through cost about $6 000 + 2 trips to New York City + 2 years full-time study.

 

In Australia:

I don’t know that there are any hard and fast rules for what is required of an Interfaith Minister so far as training is concerned, certainly there is no easy way. Even with my years of personal work and experience I expect there are many who would not accept my own claims to ministry. The requirements in Australia, at least in Christian institutions, appears to be a three year Bachelors degree in Ministry or Theology as a starting point. Currently in Australia, accredited BMin’s and BTheo’s are only delivered by Christian Universities and their affiliates, which means they are at least 50% about the Bible, Greek, Latin and Hebrew and at most 5% about comparative religion.

To the best of my knowledge there are no training institutions in Australia that provide training in Interfaith Ministry or Comparative Theology at a ministry level. Anything even close can only be gained through singular religions with a very strong bent towards their particular teaching. In the future, the Interfaith College will seek to rectify this on an unaccredited level, however accreditation as a University is upwards of $100k, so that’s on the back burner until we get the money and identify a market for it.

Probably the closest currently on offer is http://www.uq.edu.au/study/program.html?acad_prog=2000 - A Bachelor of Arts through the University of Queensland with a major or double major in Studies of Religion.

 

We are attempting to create a solution for all Australians interested in Interfaith and Religious Studies. See here for more information on the upcoming Interfaith College

I hope this answers your question but I’m equally sure it wasn’t the answer you were hoping for. I have certainly been very disheartened in my continuing search for an accredited qualification that I could gain personally and have come to the conclusion that it is not on offer in Australia at this time.

4 Responses to “Ordination as an Interfaith Minister”

  1. Ginny Findlow

    1.You declined the theology degree because it contains stuff you dont want. but don’t you need to understand where people are coming FROM, in order to mediate BETWEEN them?
    OR –
    2.are you saying that christians/muslims/jews have their own ministers available to them, so you only need to service individuals who fall between the cracks? [dont have a monothesism background]
    3.How many ministers would there be – you plus the 2 at the sunday meeting? [Have they made a definite commitment?]
    4.How many people are on the ‘management’ committee [presumably a steering committee up to this point?]

  2. admin

    Hi Ginny,

    All good points, so I will address each of them.

    1. I did not decline a theology degree per se. There are no theology degrees in comparative religion currently offered in Australia. As such I have made a personal study of religion over the past couple of decades, mostly in the areas I have become interested in, but also in Christianity, Agnosticism, Atheism and natural selection which are the dominant beliefs in Australia.

    Courses offered overseas do include some excellent comparative religion courses however they also require a residency component necessitating travel, usually to the US, on more than one occasion. This increases the cost of these courses well outside of my own personal expense and is more than I would ask our foundling church to pay for where the major benefit is a piece of paper.

    If a degree were offered in Australia that looked at comparative religion, I would most likely take it if only for the certificate at the end and the fact it supposedly offers additional legitimacy in academic circles. I do not, however, wish to study foreign or dead languages in order to better understand a religion I do not personally minister in.

    If one does not become apparent in the near future we will develop one that can deliver non-accredited training until such time as it becomes financially and academically viable to seek accreditation and a learning institution.

    The Interfaith College (our proposed training arm) is currently planned to deliver entry level courses in language, literacy, numeracy and computer skills at little or no cost to anyone. It will also deliver internal and external courses related to interfaith and comparative religion and be made available to affiliate groups to offer their own internal training. It is hoped that in the future we will be able to offer BTheo and BMin. We currently have several people qualified to deliver training (myself included) who are willing to offer their services once the college is operational.

    2. The majority beliefs already have a support structure. My local area has dozens of established churches, a couple of mosques and a couple of Buddhist temples. If we look at a wider area, say SEQld, there are thousands of churches, temples and mosques (to use the three most common terms). Each place of worship comes with many excellent support services for their specific denomination and there is little point in repeating this support through our Church.

    We do not seek to take people away from their religious groups, but as you have said, some people fall through the cracks. If for some reason they no longer feel comfortable in their current group, or they feel a pull towards working with the Interfaith Church, they are most welcome here.

    At this stage we are however concentrating on those that believe primarily in interfaith and minority beliefs (regardless of mono/polytheism) that lack such support services or lack representation in some way. Representation through the Attorney-Generals office with regard to recognised denominations under the Marriages Act 1961 is one example of this and a current goal of the Interfaith Church.

    3. Like all churches, the number of ministers will be as determined by the congregation. At this stage we have two people acting as clergy pending training (which is yet to be determined, awaiting the progress of the Interfaith College and discussions by the management committee). Currently we have a minister in Qld and another one in NSW.

    There are others interested in ministerial training and recognition through the Interfaith Church as ministers or affiliate ministers, however until there is a training structure in place each application will be based purely on the needs of our Church. When training is available we will also

    4. The management committee currently consists of four people in Qld with our clergy member in NSW filling an additional, honorary role as our representative in that state. The current committee are the founding members, however in the future these roles may be filled by popular vote and the number may grow to better represent the members as the Church increases in size. All management staff are volunteers as, at this stage, are the clergy.

    I hope this answers your questions sufficiently and thank you for posing them.

    Yours in Faith,

    Peter Brabyn

  3. Ginny Findlow

    “wish to study foreign or dead languages in order to better understand a religion I do not personally minister in.”
    I dont understand this, Peter. Greek is a common language in Australia. Are you assuming that all your interested folk will be english-speakers? or will they be managed by an ‘interfaith’ ex-greek orthodox person.

    i dont understand exactly WHICH religion you will be ministering in? Because ‘interfaith’ isnt a religion per se. Neither is agnosticism, atheism or secular humanism, [or platonism] In your list of commonist ‘beliefs’ [or faiths] in OZ, only Christianity is a religious faith. ‘ISM’S’ are not religions. There is no committment to a ‘living entity/personality’ in the ‘ism’s.’ You even mention natural selection – which is a biological mechanism [or a theory of one]. Richard Dawkins may appear to resemble an avatar of ‘evolution’ [he even thinks he's a God] but there is nothing resembling a religion there.

    Can you explain to me how a minister can humanly represent/be an agent for his ‘God’ when he doesnt have one. [Even aggressively asserts that God doesnt exist.] Who is he then representing? If it is a collection of ethical standards, how is it different from your profession?

  4. admin

    Hi Ginny,

    I’ve addressed this on the PeaceNext website at http://www.peacenext.org/group/iia/forum/topics/my-faith-my-religion-my-race-my-my-my

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