St Michael's Uniting Church, Melbourne

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St Michael's Uniting Church , Melbourne

Corner Collins Street &

Russell Street, Melbourne
Country  Australia
Denomination Uniting Church of Australia
Website St Michaels Uniting Church
Architect(s) Joseph Reed
Style Lombardic
Senior pastor(s) Dr Francis Macnab

St. Michael’s Uniting Church is a Uniting Church in Australia church in Collins St in central Melbourne, Australia. Originally the Collins Street Independent Church, a Congregational Union of Australia church, and later Collins Street Uniting Church, it has become well known as a centre of liberal theology and political radicalism under its outspoken minister since 1971, Dr Francis Macnab, currently Executive Minister.[1] The church became a congregation of the Uniting Church in Australia at its inception in 1977.


The first church on this site was built in 1839, one of the first churches in the Port Phillip District (now the state of Victoria). The original church was demolished in 1866 to make way for the larger church now on the site. The church was designed by Joseph Reed, who also designed the Melbourne Town Hall and the Royal Exhibition Building. The church is classified by the National Trust of Australia.


St Michael's Church at night.
Organ and pulpit.

The building is in the Lombardic architectural style, with multi-coloured exterior brickwork, open cloisters on the side of the building and Romanesque arches.

The interior of the church was designed in accordance with the principles of the Congregationalist Church, as a place where all members of the congregation could both hear and see the preacher. It features a sloping floor with tiered seating and a gallery to increase the capacity of the church. The church underwent major renovations in the 1970s. It is now undergoing further renovations to its exterior structure.

Psychological services[edit]

Opened in 1991, "Mingary - the Quiet Place" is a contemplative space at St Michael's. Mingary also offers low-cost counselling under the supervision of the Manager Psychologist Dr Lynette Kramer.[2] Mingary is run in conjunction with the Cairnmillar Institute and the Australian Foundation for Aftermath Reactions, both of which Dr Macnab founded.[2][3] The minister since 1971,[4] Dr Macnab holds degrees in psychology and is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society.[5]


A banner proclaiming the "10 Commandments, the most negative document written"

In September 2008, Dr Macnab of St Michael's Uniting Church launched what he called a "new faith" with a $120,000 advertising campaign including posters reading, "The Ten Commandments, one of the most negative documents ever written."[6][7] Dr Macnab described Moses as a mass murderer, Abraham as concocted and Jesus as a Jewish peasant and certainly not God.[6]

A poster published and displayed by Scots' Church in response to a poster from St. Michael's Uniting Church describing the Ten Commandments as "one of the most negative documents ever written".


The Moderator of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Rev Kioa described Dr Macnab's comments challenging the divinity of Jesus as questioning some of the faith's most basic beliefs, turning away from 2000 years of "orthodox Christian belief."[7][8][9] Other members of the Synod published their concerns.[10][11]

The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania voted to request St Michael's Uniting Church to remove advertising for its new faith and apologise to Jews, Christians and Muslims for the comments it contained about the Ten Commandments.[7][12] The Uniting Church did not move to discipline Dr Macnab because no formal complaint had been received.[7][8]

The Kirk Session of Scots' Church published a reply defending the Ten Commandments from "[t]he most incredible publicity war... being waged against the historic Christian faith."[13] They installed a poster outlining the influence of the Ten Commandments on their Russell Street frontage facing towards St. Michael's.

Dr Macnab's response[edit]

In an address on 5 October Dr Macnab defended his comments, including against suggestions they were offensive to Jews, citing his study in undergraduate and postgraduate work in Hebrew language and history, including distinctions, and saying "Some of the comments have been knee-jerk reactions, uninformed and heavily overloaded with bad manners."[14] He also stated, "While I have no intention of denigrating the Ten Commandments as a sacred symbol of the Jewish Torah and the Old Covenant, I say they are negative."[14] He gave 8 reasons why he believes the Ten Commandments to be negative, and outlined his alternative 10 Commandments, which he described as "positive, plausible and powerful".[14]


  1. ^ "St Michael's Uniting Church in Australia - Dr Macnab - About Dr Macnab". Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  2. ^ a b "Mingary Counselling". St Michael's Uniting Church website. St Michael's Uniting Church. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  3. ^ "Dr Francis Macnab". Authors. HarperCollins Publishers. 2001. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  4. ^ "About Dr Macnab". St Michael's Uniting Church website. St Michael's Uniting Church. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  5. ^ "APS Honorary Fellows, Fellows and Life Members". Australian Psychological Society Ltd website. The Australian Psychological Society Ltd. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  6. ^ a b Barney Zwartz (2008-09-16). "New faith throws out the Ten Commandments". The Age. Fairfax. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  7. ^ a b c d Hall, Cheryl (2008-10-05). "Controversial clergyman advertises his new faith on billboards.". Stateline Victoria (The Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  8. ^ a b Zwartz, Barney (2008-09-22). "Gentle rebuke over minister's 'new faith'". The Age (Fairfax Digital). Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  9. ^ "Who's Who in the News: Francis Macnab". Who's Who News Archive. Crown Content Pty Ltd. 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2008-09-27. [dead link]
  10. ^ Rev Sue Gorman (2008-09-16). "Statement of Pastoral Concern" (PDF). The Uniting Church of Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. Retrieved 2008-09-26. The Uniting Church is committed to an understanding of God as the Holy Trinity and to Jesus Christ as Son of God, Saviour and Lord. To describe him as 'just a Jewish peasant' falls very far short of the church's classic statements of belief in him. Similarly, to reduce God to 'a presence beyond ourselves' is a serious under-statement of the church’s belief in the God who is creator, redeemer and perfecter of all things. 
  11. ^ Rev Professor Chris Mostert (2008-09-16). "A theological response to comments made by Dr Francis Macnab, The Age, 16 September 2008" (PDF). The Uniting Church of Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  12. ^ "Remove offensive signs and offer apology, says church". Website of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. Uniting Church in Australia. 2008-09-. Retrieved 2008-09-26.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ "The Ten Commandments". Scots' Church website. The Session of Scots' Church. Retrieved 2008-10-10. The Ten Commandments: the most positive and influential document ever written. More than 3000 years of history that engender and promote: respect for the Divine Creator, which saves us from the arrogance of our humanity as we enjoy and make use of his creation, respect for the Divine character, which saves us from misplaced trust in the frivolous and transient gods of our age, respect for the name of God, which teaches us humility and service, respect for the spiritual nurture of our soul, because we are more than an accident of nature, respect for family and especially parents, respect for life, seeking to nurture and value all people, including the weak, the marginalised and the displaced, respect for our spouse, for the sanctity of marriage and for the value of commitment, respect for property and the rights of other people, taking nothing to ourselves that is not ours, respect for the truth, including the value of rational, scientific enquiry as well as the gospel truth about God and his Son Jesus Christ, respect for personal integrity and the purity of our hearts’ desires [dead link]
  14. ^ a b c Francis Macnab (2008-10-05). "The New Faith and 10 New Commandments". St Michael's Uniting Church. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
    1. Believe in a Good Presence in your life. Call that Good Presence: God, G-D - and follow that Good presence so that you live life fully - tolerantly, collaboratively, generously and with dignity.
    2. Believe in a God-Presence in your life that will lift you constantly to live harmoniously in yourself and with others, always searching for your best health and happiness.
    3. Take care of your home, your environments, your Planet and its vital resources for the life and health of people in all the world.
    4. Be kind and caring of the animals, the birds, and the creatures of land and the rivers and the seas. 5. Help people develop their potential and become as fully functioning human beings as is possible from birth, through traumas and triumph to the end of their days.
    6. Be magnanimous and excessive in your support of good causes, and use your affluence and material goods and scientific skills in altruistic concern for the future of the world.
    7. Study ways to encourage and sustain the dignity, hope and integrity of all human beings and study ways to help all human beings embrace their dignity, hope, and integrity.
    8. Be alive to new possibilities, new ways, and to the unfolding mysteries and wonders of life and the world.
    9. We often focus our lives on many things and pursuits that promise our fulfilment. Study the deeper things of the Spirit, and the things of ultimate concern for all human beings. Be part of an evolving life-enhancing Faith that will also bring a new resilience to the future.
    10. Take time to worship the great Source of all the positive transforming energies of life, and search to be at one with "the spirit of the good, the tender and the beautiful.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°48′51.6″S 144°58′9.1″E / 37.814333°S 144.969194°E / -37.814333; 144.969194