(prepared by Rev Dr Noel Preston AM)
Ian Mavor was a man of many accomplishments and influence in many constituencies within the broader community, Christian and secular. He was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1964 within the Queensland conference, later, of course, as a Minister within the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church. Beyond his early theological training, and as a Physical Education teacher, Ian's basic field of expertise was Religious Education with a Doctorate qualification as a graduate in 1974 of the esteemed Columbia Teachers' College, in New York City.
Ian's varied career included parish ministry, Head of the Religious Education program in the Queensland Department of Education, Master of King's College in the University of Queensland, foundation Dean of the former Brisbane College of Theology, Director of Lifeline on the Gold Coast and in his years of “retirement” CEO of the Hopewell Hospice, a wonderful initiative of Ian and his wife Deirdre.
Ian was a strong supporter of the contemporary religious progressive movement and a regular contributor to it. For many years Ian led a monthly Progressive Spirituality Group on the Gold Coast. His preparation for this group was amazing. The range and depth of material he produced on the selected monthly topic as pre-reading for attendees was superb.
He had presented workshops at several Common Dreams Conferences and participated in related events organised in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
One of my personal memories of Ian dates back to 1963 when I was a candidate for the Methodist ministry working in a suburban circuit. I had been invited to participate with other trainees for the ministry in a weekend retreat. Ian was at this time a senior theological student within King's College. I distinctly recall an informal discussion with Ian in which he told me (and loaned me a copy) of an SCM publication authored by an Anglican Bishop whose name was John Robinson. So it was Ian who commended and introduced me to Honest to God. That for me, and for Ian, as it was for so many of us, was the key to reshaping our systematic theology (as it was termed). Robinson's interpretation of the radical insights of Paul Tillich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Rudolf Bultmann led to the so called secular theology of the sixties and laid a foundation for an evolving journey to progressive contextual theology.
Years later Ian was particularly attracted to the work of Matthew Fox, then an American Dominican scholar later exiled to becoming a Episcopal priest. Fox is one of the seminal thinkers influencing many of us in our quest for eco-theology. Ian and Deidre came to know Matthew Fox and went to San Francisco several times to participate in his courses of Creation Spirituality.
Ian's support of the contemporary progressive movement was not uncritical. That is, as an educator, he counselled some of us to respect the different stages of theological development found throughout the Christian communion and he warned of a progressive dogmatism. In this respect he was influenced greatly by the work of Ken Wilber. and his integral philosophy. Indeed he was a devoted interpreter of Wilber to many of us who found engaging with Wilber rather difficult.
Ian's passing at the age of 77 was a loss to many, not just of a friend, but as one who valued orthopraxis over orthodoxy. It is good that we remember him tonight and acknowledge those who lost a loved one: his wife Deirdre, his son Kenneth and his siblings including his brother in ministry, Rev John Mavor.
Wellington Point, 30th August 2016