In the optimistic years preceding Federation in 1901, the Melbourne-based Australian Church emerged as a progressive Christian movement to serve a brand-new nation. Galvanising many members of Melbourne’s social and political elite, activist Reverend Dr Charles Strong imagined the Australian Church becoming the national church, while addressing a broad social and political reform agenda, inspired by both theological and social liberalism. Their approach was described as ‘progressive’, ‘liberal’, ‘radical’ and ‘socialist’. Strong and his wife, Janet, founded or led organisations for causes ranging from peace to penal reform. They fought for urban slum improvements, rural village settlements, childcare and adult education, the minimum wage and women’s suffrage. Some organisations endure today; others left lasting legacies in Australian methods of addressing social inequality. Bringing together leading scholars of history, politics and religion, Charles Strong’s Australian Church celebrates the church’s radicalism, while taking account of debates and obstacles on the path to social reform.
Hardcover, 2021, 208 pp,