Peter Lockhart
Peter Lockhart

Project Title: A critical analysis of the content of sermons preached by ministers ordained in the Uniting Church in Queensland between 2002-2012, with particular reference to key theological themes and socio-cultural issues

Principal Advisor: Associate Professor Neil Pembroke

Project Abstract: The Uniting Church in Australia (hereafter UCA), alongside other mainstream denominations, is a church experiencing a decline in attendance. Despite this, as the third largest denomination in Australia the UCA has considerable influence over a considerable proportion of the population. In addition, the UCA also plays a significant role in community service from aged care and hospitals through to schools and family day care services.

The purpose of this study is to examine the sermon as one of the key modes of communication used within the church in this context. It has been identified the state of preaching is in crisis. For example, Bruce Barber in 2008 asserted: "It has become something of a truism to assert that preaching today in mainstream denominations in the West is in a state of crisis." (Barber in Boland 2008: 47) Thus, the project will also reflect on whether the content of the sermons reflects the crisis in preaching that has been identified.

The key outcome of this research will include identifying key themes of the content of sermons being preached by ministers in one of Australia’s largest denominations. This will provide a deeper understanding of the task of preaching in the Uniting Church in Queensland and how that task may be influencing the members of the UCA as members of the wider community. It will also provide some insight as to whether the content of sermons being preached may need to be adjusted in light of the crisis in preaching.

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