Chief Supervisor

Dr Philip Hughes

DTheol (South-East Asia Graduate School of Theology)
BD Hons (Melbourne College of Divinity)
MEd (University of Melbourne)
MA (University of Melbourne)
BA Hons (University of Melbourne)

Philip has been a part-time faculty member at Harvest since January 2015. He has had wide experience in academic and ministry research, as well as having been a minister in both the Baptist and Uniting Churches.

Philip began his doctorate in 1978, spending a year at Lancaster University studying sociology and anthropology of religion and the theology of culture. The focus of his doctoral studies was the theology of faith and culture. He travelled to Thailand in 1979 and spent three years conducting a case study of the Christian faith and culture in northern Thailand. He has continued his connections with Thailand completed several projects there, focussed particularly on the expression of Buddhist, Christian and Islamic faith among Thai young people.

Since 1985, Philip has worked for the Christian Research Association. From 1985 to 2007 this was half-time, but has been full-time since 2008. In his work for the Christian Research Association, Philip has completed many commissioned research projects for all sections of the Christian Church on a great variety of topics including rural church leadership, youth culture, religious education among adults and young people, youth ministry in local churches, the integration of welfare and congregational life, models for ministry, amongst other topics.

From 1997 to 2007, Philip was a senior research fellow at Edith Cowan University working on two projects funded by ARC Industry Grants in conjunction with the National Church Life Survey research team. The first project focussed on the roles of the churches in Australian communities. The second examined the relationships between spirituality, insecurity and wellbeing. Philip is currently an honorary research fellow at Edith Cowan University and the University of Divinity.

Philip has written himself or been a co-author of more than 35 books, plus a series of 10 yearbooks which the CRA produced plus a series of 31 books on religion in each of the local government areas in Melbourne. Among the major publications has been a series of 12 books on the major religions in Australia, originally commissioned by the Federal government Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research. That series developed into a CD-Rom, Australia’s Religious Communities: A Multimedia Exploration, which covered the 30 major religious groups in Australia with book length articles, plus minor entries on another 140 religious groups. It remains the most comprehensive encyclopaedia of religion in Australia and is now in its third edition. Among Philip’s other major books have Building Stronger Communities (2005), Putting Life Together: Findings from Australian Youth Spirituality Research (2007), Shaping Australia’s Spirituality: A Review of Christian Ministry in the Australian Context (2010),  Spirit Matters: How Making Sense of Life Affects Wellbeing (2010) and Research Methods for Ministry and Mission (CD-Rom, 2nd edition) (2015). Apart from these books, Philip has written some hundreds of articles and book chapters and has edited Pointers, a quarterly bulletin of church-related research for 25 years.

Philip has pastored three churches: one in the inner city, one in a rural town, and one in the suburbs of Melbourne. He is currently a member of the Ringwood Uniting Church where he represents the church on the Maroondah Interfaith Network, of which he is secretary. Since 1997, he has been a Uniting Church Synod appointee on the board of Kingswood College, a school of the Uniting Church. He has been chair of that board since 2008.

Philip is married to Hazel. They have two adult children, and one grandchild. Other interests of Philip include travel, documentary film production, computers, stamp collecting and classical music.

Main Teaching and Research Areas

Research methods, Christianity and culture, Australian culture, Australian religion and spirituality, personal and social wellbeing, youth culture, Australian rural church life.

Awards & Qualifications

Full Name of Award Subject / Major Area Awarding Institution and Year of Award
Doctor of Theology Christianity and culture: a case-study in northern Thailand South-East Asia Graduate School of Theology, 1983
Master of Education “New Being” in Tillich’s theology and implications for education University of Melbourne, 1978
Bachelor of Divinity (Honours in Systematic Theology) Theology Melbourne College of Divinity, 1977
Master of Arts Philosophy, Kierkegaard and the rationality of decisions of life-styles University of Melbourne, 1974
Bachelor of Arts (Honours in Philosophy) Philosophy and study of the work of Søren Kierkegaard University of Melbourne, 1972

Books and CDs Produced in 2014 and 2015

(2014) Life, Ethics and Faith in Australian Society: Facts and Figures, Melbourne: Christian Research Association

with G. Rose and G. Bouma, (2014) Re-Imagining Church, Melbourne: Christian Research Association.

(editor and prime author), Research Methods for Ministry and Mission, (CD-Rom, 2nd edition). Melbourne: Christian Research Association.

(editor and author with Purushottama Bilimoria and Jayant Bapat, The Indian Diaspora: Hindus and Sikhs in Australia, New Delhi: DK Printworld.

Articles Published in 2015

‘Teenage Participation in Local Church Life: Multiple Doors’ in A. Village and R. W. Hood Jr. (editors) (2015) Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, Leiden: Brill. pp.40-56.

(2015) ‘The Multi-Dimensional Issue of Culture and Christian Ministry’, Journal of Contemporary Ministry, No. 1.

(2015) ‘Why Young People are Leaving the Church’, Pointers, Vol. 25, no.1, pp.1-7.

(2015) ‘The Economic Impact of Religion in Australian Society: Possibilities and Challenges in Its Measurement’, Pointers, Vol.25, no.2. pp.1-5.

(2015) ‘The Impact of Faith on Society: Some Global Perspectives’, Pointers, Vol.25, no.2. pp.6-11.

(2015) ‘The Future(s) of Religion’, Pointers, Vol.25, no.2. pp.12-14.

(2015) ‘Edward Bailey and Implicit Religion’, Pointers, Vol.25, no.2. pp.15-16.

(2015) ‘Migrant Families and Churches’, Pointers, Vol.25, no.3. pp.1-8.

Papers Delivered in 2015

‘The Changing Structure of Meaning’, presentation to the Southway Counselling Conference.

‘Social Study of Impact on Society of Individual Religiosity and Religious Involvement’, presented at the Colloquium on the Economic Impact of Religion on Australian Society, held at the Australian National University, 20th February 2015.

‘The Future of Spirituality’, presented at St Michael’s Church, Melbourne, on 22nd February 2015.

‘Measuring the Impact of Christian Faith on Society: A Contribution to Defending the Faith in Western Societies?’, paper delivered at the 7th Lausanne International Researchers’ Network Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

‘Youth and Church in the Age of Experience’, paper delivered at the International Society for the Sociology of Religion, held at Louvain-La-Neuve, 3rd July 2015.

‘Chaplaincy and the Changing Australian Context’, paper delivered at the Uniting Church Conference for School and Aged Care Chaplains, 7th August 2015.

‘Church and the Changing Australian Context’, presentation delivered to the Major Strategic Review Team of the Uniting Church, Synod of Victoria.

‘Identifying New Models of Church in Contemporary Australia’, paper delivered at the 2015 Research Conference, Church and Ministry: A Contemporary Voice, at Harvest Bible College.