In the run up to Sydney WorldPride, SBS On Demand 'The Feed' were kind enough to produce a short feature on my wife Penny Jones and I,, which we hope may help and encourage others.
It was huge thrill to share in the launch of our Faith@WorldPride initiatives at Pitt Strete Uniting tonight, as our first large and extraordinarily gorgeous 'queer angels' (Compassion, Courage and Joy) arrived, with the amazing Jyllie Jackson and her team from LightnUp in Lismore (our community arts and justice partners and inspirators). It was a wonderful opportunity to meet before the various Faith@WorldPride events next year and to share something about what we are all being and doing. In addition to tahking Jyllie and her team, we were also delighted to have our friends from Studio Commercial with us to take some group photos to complement the first batch of Queer Faces of Faith exhibition photos currently being taken.
More information in the Wine with Queer Anegls brochure here
It was as I was beginning to sing the praises of Professor Ann Loades my fabulous Ph.D supervisor the other day that I learned she had just died - having been such an extraordinary person and ground-breaking pioneer in theology and in the life of the Church of England, and wider Church, not least in Durham.
Meeting with Ann was always an occasion for me - whether in a coffee shop (and ideal set for Vera) in Newcastle upon Tyne on a Saturday morning, togged up as she was to teach ballet: or in a County Durham village when, out of her fierce compassion she told me firmly to take a term off combining research with social justice advocacy and church development (I sometimes hear her voice on that today!) as ‘too many women and children are left bereft by over-working spouses and parents having heart-attacks’.
Maybe above all I remember her cutting through the academic nonsense on so many things with keen telling intelligence - as when once I began to stress about maybe needing to write a substantial section in my Ph.D on definitions of feminism (though it was mainly a work of history): ‘rubbish’ she said (though she was eminently capable of writing several books hersrlf on the subject) ‘just put ’justice for women’’ ‘Of course’ I said ‘just like Josephine Butler!’ She laughed in her gorgeous full of life way and we both rejoiced. For, though she was an amazing, creative and accomplished pioneer, Ann always knew she too stood in a long line of Christian feminists (not least our fellow north east foremother Josephine Butler). Ann helped pass on the torch of judicious thought, justice and joy to so many of us - and we continue to honour her by keeping it bright and passing it on to others.
For a wonderful woman, a great mentor and inspiration, thanks be to God!
It has been an interesting week - this lunchtime helping to re-inter those unidentified people (all we think buried in the Congregationalist tradition) whose old Devonshire Street cemetery resting place was disturbed by new Sydney Metro developments at Central Station. One of those who were identified - Joseph Thompson - has a plaque in our Pitt Street (mother church of Congregationalism here) and ceremonies took place earlier. All human lives matter however and today’s ceremony is important in continuing to make connections of various kinds as well as bringing spiritual peace. With many thanks to everyone involved who have worked patiently and sensitively through the necessary protocols - and, not least to the Bidjigal and Gadigal ancestors and elders who have cared these places over so many more generations of life in which we are entwined.
It was truly a great honour to speak tonight at the World AIDS Day event organised by Positive Life NSW at Sydney Conservatorium of Music - movingly recalling with some amazing people some of the memories of grief and strength in our journeys and gathering with bold positivity for the continuing challenges ahead.
My own address can be found here #letsleavenoonebehind
Women in Leadership
I was thrilled to be invited to meet up with hundreds of amazing female leaders at the Women in Leadership Summit at the SCG and to offer a few words and hopedfully helpful insights of my own - albeit feeling a little awed by the brilliant ￼range and depth of CEOs, Ministers, and other female movers and shakers, including of course Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb. This was such a vital gathering and, I hope, encouraging to all.#womenleadersinstitute
kenosis in Australia today?
One of the features of Fr Peter Maher’s funeral this week was (as in death so in life!) the powerful struggle within it between two forms of Catholicism - one in which I passionately share spiritually (with others of other labels); and the other still addicted to power rather than justice, law rather than grace, patriarchy rather than the dynamic mutuality (with appropriate recognition of charisms) of the priesthood of all believers...
Pancake Pride and Faith@WorldPride
We're delighted to be hosting the Rainbow Christians Together Faith@WorldPride event on ShroveTuesday (aka the original Mardi Gras) at Pitt Street Uniting Church - with food, great music, wonderful speakers, worship and fabulous friends
(and yes, we hope to live-stream the event too for those who can't join us onsite)
on red dragonflies
Red Dragonflies - naturally - are my choice of earrings for Fr Peter Maher's funeral today (particularly, so close to the Trans Day of Remembrance, as I remember the solidarity and hope Peter offered myself and other dragonfly people).
Red dragonflies especially can be rare to view, and very special (like brilliant loving priests) when the opportunity comes along. Yet, interestingly, they often appear to people surrounding life episodes of loss and death. For the dragonfly is a symbol of go-between people, winged priests of transformation. Death is after all the polarity of Life, and dragonflies help hold together the paradoxes of death in life and life, and eternal love, in death.
In Japan the dragonfly is considered to be very sacred and symbols of transition. Red dragonflies appear most often there at the end of summer with the message that autumn is coming. A beautiful Haiku poem reads,” That the autumn season has begun is decided by the appearance of the red dragonfly.” The Japanese embrace the dragonfly as a symbol of courage, strength and happiness while some Native Americans speak of the dragonfly as bringing a time of rejuvenation after a long period of trials and hardship. Indeed they have traditionally perceived dragonflies as the “souls of the dead” - so a dragonfly visitation around a loved one’s death could well signify the loved one’s soul taking form in the spirit of dragonfly. It offers the assurance their soul is free.
Fly wonderfully Peter in perfect light - just as you helped we others find their wings and reflect that light
It was good to attend the first day of the APSA Workshop on Religion and Politics After Marriage Equality at Macquarie University this week - although I was unable due to illnes to be at the second day - with many thanks to Dr Eleneie Poulos and Kate Gleeson for putting together such a brilliant program, and to all the other speakers for sharing their insights. Much to think about on this topic with a new federal government.
My own paper - 'On climbing out from under the bus: queer faith futures in a cisgender world' can be read here
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.