Annual Assembly 2021

Nov 04, 2021
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Engaging with the “3R’s”

Tas Baptist Annual Assembly
22-23 October 2021, Longford

By Kate Barnett, Newstead Baptist

Reengage, Reimagine, Realign

On Friday night at the Annual Assembly 2021, we gathered with other Tasmanian Baptist church representatives. It was a time of sharing what has been happening in our different fellowship communities.

Prof. Patrick Parkinson with Mission Director Stephen Baxter. Annual Assembly 2021
Prof. Patrick Parkinson with Mission Director Stephen Baxter

The Mission Director, Stephen Baxter, reflected on the year past which demanded so many adjustments associated with the impact of the pandemic. But also, more broadly in the context of our changing society. He considered how this relates to being the body of Christ – His church – and how this looks very different from past years.

Our guest speaker, Professor Patrick Parkinson, explained many enlightening statistics. These included how changing family structures, and the decline of marriages over recent decades, has led to increasing challenges for children, parents, and our communities. This provides so many opportunities for Christians to reach out and care in relevant ways.

Morning Sessions

On Saturday we explored further the “Reengage, Reimagine, Realign” vision for Tasmanian Baptists. We also participated in a very short business session.

Denise Stephenson
Denise Stephenson

Denise Stephenson (LifeWay, Lymington) spoke of her experience of growing up deeply within the Tasmanian Baptist church community. Finding herself dis-engaging in her teens, she later returned to the Baptist church network in a new ministry capacity.

This has led to her reaching out to people in day-to-day interactions within her local neighbourhood. Now, she seeks God’s guidance for next steps with fellowship at the “long table” she and husband Mark have installed in their new home.

Maddy Svoboda
Rev. Maddy Svoboda

Maddy Svoboda shared about the journey Summerhill Baptist has been on as it seeks to value the transition period.

He spoke of the “liminal spaces” where we step across into the “not yet known” – where God is at work. And of trusting God with the unknowns which are known by our Sovereign God.

Annual Assembly 2021, attendees
Annual Assembly 2021 Attendees, 23 October 2021

After Lunch Electives

After lunch, we chose electives. I appreciated participating in Jenna Blackwell’s workshop, which provided personal reflection time on the 3-R’s. In addition, Michael Henderson led a group reflecting on how churches can reengage, reimagine and realign. And a third group looked at the future implications of Covid for our churches in light of new vaccination policies.

In the workshop, Jenna posed a series of questions prompting us to Reengage as we described in our own words God’s Big Story, the Good News. Then exploring our own response, considering our strengths and passion, significant life experiences.

Questions prompted us to Reengage as we described in our own words God’s Big Story, the Good News

We then moved to Reimagine what God might be saying to us in how our own lives are being lived. And then, to Realign by considering what may need to change in our lives to Reengage full circle with God in the now!

At home, I’ve been sorting and “culling” all manner of stuff to make room for our daughter and her family. They are moving from interstate and will be living with us. This exercise reminded me to “let go” and to “make space”, so God can do his transforming work of Renewal! 

That renewal is what God does in our lives. It is what we can see happening in many of our Tasmanian Baptist churches. I was so encouraged by our Annual Assembly 2021.

Kate Barnett, Annual Assembly 2021

Kate Barnett
Newstead Baptist Church


READ MORE IN THE NOV/DEC 2021 ADVANCE | STEP BY STEP