In choosing the Sophia name, we are reclaiming a very ancient tradition about the understanding of God, developed in the Jewish Wisdom literature around the 6th century BCE.
Sophia is the Greek word for wisdom. The Book of Proverbs refers to Wisdom as co-creator, source of life, insight and strength. (Prov 8) Paul declares that Christ is the Wisdom/Sophia of God (1Cor 1:24) and Jesus refers to himself as Sophia (Matt 11:19). The naming of Jesus as the child of Sophia or the incarnation of Sophia Wisdom was common in the early church.
The Sophia tradition continued in the early church but later fragmented due to the association of Sophia with unorthodox thinking. Following the Reformation the Sophia tradition was neglected.
This ancient understanding of God was reclaimed by feminist theologians in the late 20th century. We have chosen to walk in this tradition, because it speaks to the deep feminist and social justice values of our community of faith.
We celebrate women’s stories, create inclusive ritual and liturgies, explore meaning through biblical study, many sources of wisdom and personal reflection. We also advocate for issues of social justice as a community.
The "spring" for us represents the eternal bubbling up of the Spirit in our life and worship. The spring is our source of refreshment, in fact the source of all life. It is grounded in the creation and plants our roots in the earth. It links us with the eco-theology movement which seeks to restore the integrity of all creation. It also connects us with the work and philosophy of the CERES community.
Sophia’s Spring as a name embodies our deep commitment to our feminist, social justice and eco-theologies. It honours our past heritage of Fitzroy Uniting Church but orients our ministry and mission to the eco-feminist movement within the secular environment at CERES and also within the wider church community.
Eco-feminism has emerged from one of humanity’s most powerful movements for human rights—the struggle for women to be recognised, respected, valued, listened to and regarded as fully human.
Sophia’s Spring embraces eco-feminist theology. Eco-feminism, and eco-feminist theology, offers a multi-layered perspective, relationship, and interconnectedness between creatures, gender, earth and God. It is a feminism that draws the connection between the oppression of women and the degradation of the earth.
Although Marxism, in practice, saw much environmental destruction many early feminists drew upon Marxism as an analytical base, observing that patriarchy was both cultural and material, and that the exploitation of nature was intrinsic to patriarchal capitalist development. The 1970s saw a renewal of interest in the connection between Goddess and nature-based religion. In 1972, Franciose D’Eaubonne, a French feminist, set up a project titled ‘Ecologie-Feminisme,’ coined the term eco-feminism, and called women to lead an ecological revolution to ensure the survival of the planet.
Feminism emphasises liberating power with, rather than dominating power over. It aims for a partnership of created beings to care for each other and the whole creation. Differing skills, expertise and roles means that not all hierarchy is abolished, but the aim is for service and respect to be integral to approaches taken and work done.
we value the Earth
We bring a feminist perspective to religious understanding, for the enlarging and deepening of concepts of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, as well as friendship, family and social commitment. We seek to acknowledge the sacredness of the earth and all creation. We seek justice for the earth through exploration of eco-feminism.
we value hospitality
Our community of faith offers acceptance and equality to people of difference. We seek to respect racial and cultural differences, hear different voices and experience diversity in spiritual paths
we value inclusivity
We seek to listen to the voices of the oppressed, abused, and powerless. We seek to share Christ Sophia’s inclusive love with those from LGBTIQ+ communities who are frequently faced with choice between their identity and their spiritual needs. We seek to provide a supportive and creative environment for exploring forms of spirituality and emerging theologies relevant to today’s needs.