Here is the story of the Australasian Theological Forum Limited (ATF) - formerly known as the Australian Theological Forum Incorporated - beginning from August 1993. Here you will read how the ATF was established, its program since 1993, and some details of its organisational structure.

The New Zealand connection

In New Zealand since 1988, the Otago Theological Foundation has been organising symposia, public lectures and publications, in association with the University of Otago, Dunedin.

By August 1993 a number of Australians had attended symposia in Dunedin. As well, the then Convenor of the Otago Theological Foundation, Hilary Regan, had returned to reside in Australia. It comes as no surprise, then, that Rev Dr Gordon Watson and Mr Regan covened a meeting in that month to explore the idea of a similar organisation in Australia.


Mr Hilary Regan


Initial meetings


That very first meeting set the tone for the ATF with three key principles.

  • The new body be theological in orientation
  • It should have an emphasis on theology in dialogue with other disciplines of a social or cultural nature
  • It should be ecumenical.

Add to this that the ATF should be a national body, and that it should contribute locally and internationally to the theological enterprise through relevant publications, and you have the shape of the organisation to this day.


Interim committee

Rev Fr John L Neill OP (Chair)
Hilary Regan (Secretary)
Rev Rodney Horsfield
with assistance from
Rev Dr Gordon Watson
Sr Helen Northey OP
Rev Ian Williams
Professor Kevin Hart
Rev Dr Max Champion
Rev Dr Anthony Kelly

An interim Committee began work immediately, networking with people around Australia about setting up what they then called the Australian Theological Foundation. They took the original structure and purposes from the Dunedin based OTF, adapting them as more people became involved.

Financially, the fledgling body was supported by a generous seeding grant from Otira College's Council. The Council also provided meeting facilities, office equipment, and a mailing address.

Rev Fr John Neill


Rev Dr Gordon Watson
Sr Veronica Brady

First public function


Also in late 1993, the interim Committee began organising the ATF's first public gathering: an international symposium on Theology and Health Care in Melbourne in 1995. Check out the resulting publication on the ATF Press website.


October 1994
First National Board Meeting

This meeting brought together representatives of the Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Uniting Church of Australia traditions. After discussion, the self constituted Board was voted in. A preliminary Statement of Intent was approved, emphasising that the ATF was to be:

  • national
  • ecumenical, with representatives of a number of the Christian traditions
  • concerned with theology in dialogue with other disciplines in areas of social and cultural concern
  • involved in organising symposia, colloquia, and other forms of research
  • involved in publishing
  • reflecting the Trinitarian theological orientation of the Christian churches.

Since 1994 some of the original Board members have resigned due to heavy commitments and other activities. The Forum is grateful for the contribution that has been made in the foundation period by various Board members since 1994.

Dr Gordon Watson was elected as foundation chairperson, and continued in that capacity for 5 years.


Ms Morag Fraser

Rev Dr Vic Pfitzner


Early 1995

Finance Sub-Committee established: Br Anthony Walsh, OP, Mr John Hoffmann, Mr John Kelly, all of Melbourne, and Mr Hilary Regan of Adelaide. In May 1996 Mr Lachlan Stuart of Adelaide was added to the group. The members of the present Committee can be found elsewhere.


Also 1995

Publication Sub-Committee established. The members of the initial group were Rev Dr Vic Pfitzner and Mr Hilary Regan, with Mr Chris Pfieffer and Sr Bernadette Kiley OP joining later.

July 1995

First international theological symposium, "Beyond Mere Health: Theology and Health Care in a Secular Society", held in Melbourne. The Symposium was attended by over 100 participants. The program included main papers, responses and replies, workshops, plenaries, and public lectures.


September 1995

Name changed to Australian Theological Forum Incorporated. Listed as an incorporated body in South Australia.

August 1996

Australian Theological Forum Literary Trust established. Trustees: Sr Veronica Brady IBVM, Rev Fr John Neill OP, Judge Peter Gebhardt, Mr Hilary Regan and Mr Lachlan Stuart. The names of the current Trustees can be found elsewhere.


January 1997

Literary Trust included on the Register of Cultural Organisation with the Commonwealth Department of Communication and the Arts.

February 1997

Patrons appointed: Sir William Deane, Patron-in-Chief (remained as Patron-in-Chief while Governor General), Archbishop Keith Rayner, Archbishop Stylianos

May 1997

Bishop Ezekiel appointed to the Board.

July 1997


The first Colloquium, The Task of Theology Today, held in Brisbane.
Presenters include:

  • Rev Dr Colin Gunton
  • Revd Dr Carl Braaten
  • Archbishop Stylianos Harkianakis
  • Revd Dr Sue Patterson
  • Revd Dr Stephen Pickard
  • Revd Dr Denis Minns OP





August 1997

The Board begins offering memberships in ATF.
The Editorial Board of the journal Interface is established.

January 1998

A conference, Faith in Public Forum, is organised in Sydney with the Australian Catholic University and the Catholic Institute of Sydney.

April 1998

Jointly with Australian Catholic University, Philosophy Seminar, at ACU Aquinas Campus, Ballarat.





May 1998

ATF launches its newsletter, Nexus. The newsletter will appear twice yearly in May and October.

May-June 1998

ATF publishes a new book, The Task of Theology Today: Doctrines and Dogmas, and a new journal, Interface: a Forum for Theology in the World. Launches take place in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Ballarat. Launch in Canberra by Governor General, Sir Wiliam Deane, the ATF’s Patron in Chief at the time.





End June 1998

Membership in ATF reaches 150.

June 1998

A Perth (Western Australia) Workshop on Theology and Faith in the Public Forum, run in conjunction with Uniting In-Care Services, WA Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia.

October 1998

An ecumenical workshop with Indigenous people on Sharing together in fellowship. Run jointly with the Aboriginal and Islander Commission of the National Council of Churches in Australia, and hosts Nungalinya College, Darwin, the workshop was seeking connections in the search for an Australian identity. Repeated in 1999.


November 1998

Reinventing Work and Faith was a Canberra-based ecumenical and interdisciplinary conference on Vocation and Mission of the Laity. Hon Brian Howe appointed to the Board.

31 this picture also used above in April 1998.

January 1999

Membership in ATF reached 200. Also this month, an agreement is signed with T&T Clark (Edinburgh, Scotland) for an international edition of The Task of Theology Today -- Doctrines and Dogmas, published jointly with WB Eerdmans of the USA, and available in June 1999.

February 1999

Membership passes 250, and 87 subscribers to the journal Interface. A completely revised web site goes on line, thanks to the volunteer efforts of Peter Westhorp and Sue Collyer. In Sydney, launch of Faith in the Public Forum, the first in a new series of books arising from ATF conferences. The series editors are Veronica Brady, IBVM, and Hilary Regan. Also in Sydney at the end of the month, in Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay, the seminar Civilising Community For Us All is jointly conducted by the ATF, Community Services Australia, and the Australian Catholic Health Care Association. A publication from this seminar will be forthcoming.

April 1999

Task of Theology Today II, Starting with the Spirit, Canberra.







June 1999

Rev John Neill OP was elected as Chairperson for 3 years, Richard Goss re-elected as treasurer for 3 years and Hilary Regan re-elected as Secretary for 5 years.

Membership of the ATF reaches 270 with 80 subscribers to the journal.

September 1999

International Edition of 'The Task of Theology Today: Doctrines and Dogmas', T&T Clark and Eerdman editions released. Launches in September, October and November in London, Adelaide and Berkeley.


October 1999

Australian Theological Book Reviewer. Agreement with The Openbook for a three year trial of the new, Australian authored, internet book review. Joint ATF and Openbook editorial board.


January 2000

Artificial Intelligence conference held in Adelaide, with over 100 in attendence. Speakers include John Puddefoot (UK), Anne Foerst (USA), Mark Worthing (Aus).














February 2000

The number of ATF Members and Subscribers reaches 350.

March 2000

Launch of March 2000 edition of Interface at Writers Week in Adelaide. This was the first time theology was part of Adelaide International Writers Week.

April 2000

Karl Barth: A Future for Post Modern Theology book launched in Melbourne.

June 2000

More Than a Single Issue book launched in Melbourne.
Spirit of Australia Seminar, Melbourne.
Civilising Community for Us All book launched in Melbourne.

November 2000

Faith Matters book launched in Melbourne. John Neill OP resigns as Chairperson due to change from Melbourne to Sydney. Other resignations in November: Antony Walsh OP, Veronica Brady IBVM, Rod Horsefield.

February 2001

Dr Rosalie Hudson elected Chairperson. The following members were appointed to the board: Rev Dr Tom Cassidy OP, Rev Ray Cleary.

Sr Veronica Brady, Ms Morag Fraser and Rev Tim Costello appointed as patrons to join Dr Keith Rayner and Archibishop Stylianos.
Dr Rosalie Hudson


June 2001

Rev Dr Stephen Pickard and Dr Robert Gascoigne appointed to the board.

ATF announces new book series in Science and Theology. ATF now has three series

  • ATF Series
  • Task of Theology Today Series
  • Science and Theology Series (with the first three volumes with the CTNS logo together with that of the ATF on the back cover)

plus Interface journal, specialist monographs and the Australian Theological Book Reviewer

July 2001

Spirit of Australia Conference held in Melbourne
Launch of Spirit of Australia: Religion In Citizenship And National Life in Melbourne
Sign deal with Rainbow Book Agencies to be distributors for ATF books in Australia

August 2001

‘Church and Civil Society’ conference held in Melbourne.

October 2001

Task of Theology Today III ‘Sin and Salvation’ conference held in Adelaide.
Task of Theology Today II Starting with the Spirit launched in Adelaide.
Interface listed as a referred journal by the federal Government’s Department of Education Science and Training (DEST).

November 2001

ATF produces Publications brochure.
Sign deal with SCM-Canterbury Press to be distributors for ATF books in UK/Europe.

January 2002

Launch of two new books in Canberra:
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Cosmology & Biological Evolution and
Habitat of Grace: Biology, Christianity and the Global Environmental Crisis

February 2002

Mr Michael Champion appointed to the Board.
Hon Brian Howe resigns from Board and is appointed as a Patron.
Sign deal with IPM in USA to be distributors for ATF books in North America.
Sign deal with Glad Sounds in KL to be distributor in Malaysia.

March 2002

Launch of Habitat of Grace in Hamilton, New Zealand.
Launch of March 2002 edition of Interface on theology and the Arts, and God, Life, Intelligence and the Universe at Adelaide Writers Week. This is the second time the ATF has had theology part of this important event.
Negotiations commence to have New Zealand, Indonesian and South American distributors.

April 2002

International Reference Group established: Rev Dr Sue Patterson, Ireland, Rev Dr William Steoger SJ, Vatican Observatory, USA, Rev Dr Timothy Radcliffe OP, former Master General of the Dominican Order, UK, Professor Robert J Russell, Founder and Director of CTNS and Professor of Science and Religion, Berkeley, USA and Rev Dr Colin Gunton, Kings College London.
Sign deal with Omega Books to be distributor in New Zealand.

May 2002

Sign deal with Tien Dao Publishing House to be distributor in Hong Kong, SKS Books in Singapore, Academic Book Sales and Wit Feild Books in Philippines, ATC in Bangalore India, and Loyola Distributors in Brazil.

June 2002

Announcement of 10th anniversary celebrations from April 2003 through to October 2004.

1. Task of Theology IV, ‘Theodicy and Eschatology’, Melbourne, May 2003,
2. .International Writers Week, Adelaide, March 2004,
3. Task of Theology Today V, ‘Worship and Preaching’, Brisbane, 2004.
4. 10th Anniversary Dinner date set for April 2003 in Melbourne.

Ms Colleen Arnold-Moore of Melbourne appointed to the Board


November 2002

Board Meeting: Rev Dr Bruce Kaye of Sydney appointed to the Board.
10,400 hits to the ATF web site registered since March 2002.
ATF Press approved as branding name for ATF publications in 2003.
Approval for annual ATF Dinner and Lecture to be held in Adelaide, during the Festival of Ideas one year and in International Writers Week the other.
ATF Board agrees to establish the ATF Theological Essay Prize as a joint venture with the Openbook and the Australian Theological Research Theology Foundation which will commence in 2003.
ATF present for first time at AAR held this year in Toronto, Canada.

January 2003

Launch of Church and the Freemarket, Melbourne, a joint publication with the Victorian Council of Churches, edited by Alan Nichols and Maureen Postma.

February 2003

New Adelaide based Finance Team begins work, all bookkeeping now undertaken in Adelaide. New Editorial Committee formed in Adelaide to work with ATF Press, which will undertake academic assessment of texts sent to the ATF for publication. ATF Board agrees to begin a Phd dissertation series in 2004. ATF Board agrees to new web site for ATF Press.

ATF Board agrees to establish the ATF Theological Book Prize, a prize for the best theological book written by an Australian theologian, to begin in 2004 as a joint venture with the Openbook and the Australian Research Theology Foundation. ATF Press listed as a commercial publisher with the federal Government’s Department of Education Science and Training (DEST), a significant step as Australian academics can now gain data accreditation points by publishing with the ATF.

March-April 2003

Book launches of Prophecy and Passion: Essays in Honour of Athol Gill, edited by David Neville. The ATF’s biggest book, 450 pages.
Sign deal with Loyola Press in Brazil for translation of ATF books into Portuguese. Investigations commence with other language translations in other countries.

March 2003

Book launch Hamilton, New Zealand, of Rethinking Religion: Exploratory Investigations, by Douglas Pratt, first book under new imprint name of ATF Press.

May 2003

Task of Theology Today IV, ‘Theodicy and Eschatology’, Melbourne
10th Anniversary dinner, 125 people from all over Australia attend.
Book launch Task of Theology Today III, Sin and Salvation, edited by Duncan Reid and Mark Worthing, the ATF’s 15th book. New web site ATFPress.com up and running.
There are now a total 55 people associated with the ATF working on various committees and structures.
The ATF has run 13 conference, published 15 books and is in its 6th year of the journal, Interface. Average print runs for books now 550 copies and 600 copies of the journal.
















Australasian Theological Forum Ltd
Ph: (08) 83542299
Fax: (08)83542399
Mobile: 0411876099

Street Address
26 Clark Street
SA, 5034

Postal Address
PO Box 504
South Australia 5007

ABN : 90 116 359 963

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