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St Michael's Uniting Church, Melbourne

St Michael’s Uniting Church is a Church in Collins Street in central Melbourne, Australia. Originally the Collins Street Independent Church, a Congregational Union of Australia Church, and later Collins Street Uniting Church, St Michael's has become well known as a centre of liberal theology and political radicalism under its recent Executive Minister Dr Francis Macnab (1971-2016).[1] The Church became a congregation of the Uniting Church in Australia at its inception in 1977.

St Michael's Uniting Church , Melbourne
St. Michael's Uniting Church, Melbourne.jpg
St Michael's Uniting Church, Melbourne
37°48′51.6″S 144°58′9.1″E / 37.814333°S 144.969194°E / -37.814333; 144.969194Coordinates: 37°48′51.6″S 144°58′9.1″E / 37.814333°S 144.969194°E / -37.814333; 144.969194
LocationCorner of Collins Street and
Russell Street, Melbourne
DenominationUniting Church in Australia
Architect(s)Joseph Reed
Architectural typeUniting Church
Years built1866-1867
Senior pastor(s)Supply Ministry (Various Preachers)


St Michael's Uniting Church, then known as the Congregational Church, in 1872

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. It was variously known as the Independent Church and the Congregational Church before it was given its present name.


St Michael's Church at night
The interior of St Michael's Church as viewed from slightly right of centre looking towards the central organ.

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.

Key clergyEdit

Dr Francis Macnab (1971-2016)Edit

Dr Macnab on 8 April 2012 (Easter Sunday service at St Michael's Church)

Dr Francis Macnab AM, OM, PhD, DSc, DD, MA, FBPsS was the Executive Minister of St Michael’s from February 1971 to December 2016. In addition to his duties as a minister, Macnab was also the founder and previous executive director of The Cairnmillar Institute, a non-for-profit clinic for counselling available to the general public and a postgraduate school of psychology, counselling and psychotherapy. Dr Macnab holds a Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Aberdeen. He has honorary doctorates from the University of Melbourne and RMIT in psychology and applied science.

Through Cairnmillar and St Michael’s, Macnab developed a healthy ageing program called Successful Ageing, Growth and Enjoyment (S.A.G.E.) for people aged between 55-105. He also recognised a need for The Big Tent Project, aimed at supporting kindergarten aged children suffering from mental health issues.

Mingary Counselling Service is another section of Dr Macnab’s on going support for the public. Under the leadership of the Director Dr Lynette Kramer, Mingary offers low cost counselling to the general public where counselled by interns of Cairnmillar completing placement hours. Thus providing students with the appropriate training, but also the public with a sustainable, affordable counselling service. Whilst the study of psychology and religion is not necessarily a new phenomenon, Dr Macnab is one of the only spiritual preachers in the city of Melbourne to accept and encourage people of vast backgrounds to join the congregation and discuss topics of self and living a fulfilled life. Dr Macnab chooses to promote a spiritual awareness as opposed to enforcing religious views but also encourages people to accept them. Dr Macnab is an internationally renowned public speaker, having spoken at several international conferences, he is the former president of the International Council of Psychologists, and a one-time research fellow at Aberdeen University. He holds honorary doctorates from Aberdeen University and RMIT in psychology and Applied Science, and is also a registered psychologist and Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society. In 1992 he was honoured as a member of the Order of Australia. In 2016, he was also awarded Emeritus Professor status by The Cairnmillar Institute.[2]

Supply ministry (since 2017)Edit

Since 1 January 2017 there have been Supply Ministers such as Reverend David Dawes, Rev Ric Holland, Reverend John Smith, and Reverend Peter Burnham and others visiting ministers.

Psychological servicesEdit

"Mingary - the Quiet Place" is a contemplative space at St Michael's opened in 1999. Mingary also offers low-cost counselling under the supervision of the manager psychologist, Lynette Kramer.[3] Mingary is run in conjunction with the Cairnmillar Institute and the Australian Foundation for Aftermath Reactions, both of which Francis Macnab founded.[3][4] The minister since 1971,[5] Macnab holds degrees in psychology and is a fellow of the Australian Psychological Society.[6]


New FaithEdit

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

In September 2008, Dr Francis Macnab launched what he called a "New Faith" including posters reading "The Ten Commandments, one of the most negative documents ever written."[7][8] Macnab described Moses as a mass murderer, Abraham as concocted and Jesus as a Jewish peasant and certainly not God.[7] The then Moderator of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, the Rev'd Jason 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".[8][9][10] Other members of the Synod published their concerns.[11][12] The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania directed 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.[8][13] The Uniting Church did not move to discipline Macnab because no formal complaint had been received.[8][9]

In an address on 5 October 2008, 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 eight reasons why he believes the Ten Commandments to be negative and outlined his alternative 10 Commandments, which he described as "positive, plausible and powerful"

  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"


  1. ^ "St Michael's Uniting Church in Australia - Dr Macnab - About Dr Macnab". Archived from the original on 15 October 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  2. ^ "St Michael's Uniting Church". Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Mingary Counselling". St Michael's Uniting Church website. St Michael's Uniting Church. Archived from the original on 3 October 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008.
  4. ^ "Dr Francis Macnab". Authors. HarperCollins Publishers. 2001. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
  5. ^ "About Dr Macnab". St Michael's Uniting Church website. St Michael's Uniting Church. Archived from the original on 15 October 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  6. ^ "APS Honorary Fellows, Fellows and Life Members". Australian Psychological Society Ltd website. The Australian Psychological Society Ltd. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
  7. ^ a b Barney Zwartz (16 September 2008). "New faith throws out the Ten Commandments". The Age. Fairfax. Retrieved 26 September 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d Hall, Cheryl (5 October 2008). "Controversial clergyman advertises his new faith on billboards". Stateline Victoria. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
  9. ^ a b Zwartz, Barney (22 September 2008). "Gentle rebuke over minister's 'new faith'". The Age. Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
  10. ^ "Who's Who in the News: Francis Macnab". Who's Who News Archive. Crown Content Pty Ltd. 16 September 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2008.[dead link]
  11. ^ Rev Sue Gorman (16 September 2008). "Statement of Pastoral Concern". The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 October 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2008. 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.
  12. ^ Rev Professor Chris Mostert (16 September 2008). "A theological response to comments made by Dr Francis Macnab, The Age, 16 September 2008". The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 October 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2008.
  13. ^ "Remove offensive signs and offer apology, says church". Website of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. Uniting Church in Australia. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 26 September 2008.
  14. ^ a b Francis Macnab (5 October 2008). "The New Faith and 10 New Commandments". St Michael's Uniting Church. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2008.

External linksEdit