Radical Church

What is it?

An ecumenical Christian community exploring the call and challenge of costly discipleship in today’s world.

‘radical’: ‘Of the roots’ – (ME,f. LL radicalis – radix)

We expect:

  • to be disturbed by the call of Jesus Christ;
  • to be a Christian community that gathers to worship God, where each person is welcomed and supported;
  • to be called to think seriously about faith, informed by contemporary scholarship, including science;
  • to assist the university to be the university;
  • to explore seriously how to make links with people of all Christian traditions and with people of other beliefs;
  • to act with others on issues of justice, human rights and peace for humanity and the planet.

Who is it?

Supported and resourced by the ecumenical chaplain the Revd Dr Wes Campbell, Uniting Church minister;

an ecumenical gathering of students and staff.

The presbytery of Yarra Yarra provides support through a reference group – with people from neighbouring congregations.

Who is Wes Campbell?

A Uniting Church Minister appointed to the position of chaplain in the University of Melbourne, since May 2007. (See below for a longer introduction to Wes.)

Born in Dwellingup, Western Australia.
Schools: Wagin, Mt Helena, Bunbury.
Universities: UWA; Tuebingen (Germany).
Theological study: Perth, Melbourne, Tuebingen.
UWA: BA (hons);
Melbourne College of Divinity: Diploma of Theology, Bachelor of Divinity(hons), Doctor of Theology.

Wes is one of nine chaplains at Melbourne University.


Wes (Wesley Neil) Campbell (Revd Dr)

Wes was born in 1948 on the west coast of Australia to Methodist parents, father a baker and mother a dressmaker, one of seven children. He attended state schools. He had an interest in art, particularly drawing in those years. He began work as a hospital administration trainee, but soon heard a call to ordained ministry. 1967 was a year of powerful change. He became a worker and student at the Central Methodist Mission in Sydney and was exposed to life in the inner city and church ministry that was both evangelical and socially critical. Growing up in Western Australia as a post-Second Word War child of Methodist parents, who believed that the government was to be trusted and obeyed, his exposure to another form of Methodism in Central Sydney. The critique of Australia’s involvement in the war on Vietnam took him into opposition to the Vietnam War, the beginning of a growing dissent against war in all forms, into a growing commitment to non-violence and peacemaking, and the development of an awareness that Christian discipleship is a radical calling into an active search for justice and peacemaking, where the church community is intended to test and try these out for the sake of human liberty and dignity.

Wes studied for ministry in Perth (WA) and Melbourne. He was ordained in 1975 as a Minister of the Methodist Church. In 1977, due to the uniting of three church traditions, he became a member Minister of the Uniting Church in Australia. In 1975 he and Beverley married. In 1978 Jacob was born, and, with the support of an ecumenical scholarship, they travelled to Germany for study with Prof. Jürgen Moltmann and commenced doctoral studies. He befriended a number of theologians including Mark Burrows, Miraslov Volf, Michael Welker and Marcia Bunge. A number of German families became an extended family for them. Caitlin was born in 1981.The beginnings of the Green movement and the renewed peace movement were powerful influences.

On returning to Australia, Wes took up a position in Melbourne in 1983 as director of the Uniting Church’s work in social justice. He continued his doctoral work and also began to paint seriously.

His artistic and theological work has been deeply influenced by participation in workshops at Nungalinya, Darwin, during the late 1990s, a visit to the Philippines and the Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington DC in the year 2000, a CIVA Conference in 2003 in Boston, and sabbatical at Andover Newton Theological School in 2006. Cathy Kapikian, Charles McCollogh and Ute Mollitor and Mark Burrows have been a great source of encouragement, friendship and learning.

Formally in Victoria his work has been as:
• Executive Secretary of the Victorian Synod Division of Social Justice (1983-89) and related positions on the national Uniting Church Assembly Commission on Social responsibility and the Victorian Community Council Against Violence;
• Minister of Hotham Mission (North Melbourne) 1990-1999, involving attention to issues of poverty, refugees, community service. Member of Assembly Unit on Theology and Discipleship. Chairperson of Victorian Synod of Commission on Education for Ministry (1996-2001).
• Minister of St John’s, Essendon (2000-7). Participation on the Synod Bioethics Committee (2001-2004); Synod Governance Committee (2003-5); Member of the ethics committee of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2005-2008); Assembly Working Group on Doctrine.

Wes is now chaplain at the University of Melbourne.

As Minister and theologian, Wes has been involved in social justice policy and advocacy in church and community groups. Wes also has been involved in various ways in the church administration of theological learning and ministerial education. He convenes the national Uniting Church Assembly working group on doctrine.

He has been a member of Pax Christi and other peace movements for decades.

Wes is now committed to exploring the role of theology in university settings; particularly the relationships of Christian faith to justice, peace and participation in ‘inter-faith’ relations.