Tas Baptist NEWS June 2021

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need to know – news June 2021:

Bangladesh struggles with COVID

“The pandemic has impacted Bangladesh profoundly,” says Baptist World Aid’s South Asia Regional Lead, Nathan Sarkar, who lives in Bangladesh. “It’s disrupted people’s livelihood and raised poverty in 2020 . . . there could be about 90 million people who are under severe poverty stress due to the pandemic.”

And garment workers are in a vulnerable position, he says. “They can hardly follow health protocols and have to live in congested spaces where ensuring social distancing is difficult. They use common bathrooms, and sit and eat in common places.”

Yet, through the pandemic, Baptist World Aid continues to support families in Bangladesh. Some of whom, like Suresh, work for garment factories in Dhaka.

For almost 20 years, Suresh has worked in the garment industry. The early days (of the pandemic) were the hardest. Leaving his wife and youngest daughter behind in his village to fend for themselves, while he travelled to the city for work.

Away from home, he worries for his wife and daughter. And that, says Mr Sarker, is where Baptist World Aid and its local partners have stepped in.

“Many generous Australians are helping to support the families of garment workers like Suresh,” he explains. “They learn new skills to help grow the family income, growing fruit and vegetables, fish farming. And in this time of COVID, they’re also learning life-saving hygiene techniques.”

If you’d like to learn more about this work or support it yourself, please visit www.baptistworldaid.org.au/matching-grant.

Melissa Lipsett
Acting Chief Operating Officer, Baptist World Aid

KidzFest Launceston

Tasmania Celebration, Sunday 28th May 2022

Will Graham is coming to Tasmania next year, and there will be a KidzFest program as part of the Saturday program.

Tasmania Celebration 2022

Members of Christian churches in Launceston are urged to consider supporting this event as much as is possible. A team is being gathered to help lead this event in the best possible direction and create a mega-awesome kids fun for the day on Saturday 28th May 2022.

Please get in touch with me, Russell McKenzie, if you would like to join the organising team, and/or if your church would be interested in participating in this event.
Russell McKenzie
Co-ordinator of KidzFest Launceston: russandkate@internode.on.net 
Find out more info: Tasmania Celebration

Poetry by Ray Hawkins

Ray attends The Point Baptist Church, Beauty Point
The Longing of the Heart
There were many places waiting for me,
So many things to do and see.
Then, unexpectedly,
All this changed.
My life was rearranged,
 New desires took hold of me,
Changing me completely.


READ MORE IN THIS JUNE 2021 ADVANCE | step by step

  • Regional RoundUp Perth, Ulverstone, Wynyard, Citywide, Claremont, Hobart
  • Baptists in Mission Conference The HOW-TO of “Missional Church”
  • Farewell Jeff McKinnon Thanks to a passionate servant

EmpowHer Southern Coastal Walk

Walk for Southern women and girls, 19 June 2021

The fist walk was a great success! To find out more about EmpowHer activities, you can sign up the Heartlands Quarterly News HERE

Where: Arm End Circuit
When: Saturday 19 June

Download A4 brochure >>> | Download Trifold Brochure >>>

Perth Thanksgiving Service

Sunday 30th May

Saying ‘thanks’ is an important part of living together as well as in our relationship with God.
Perth Baptist Church 200th Anniversary of Perth township
Perth township celebrated 200 years in 2021. Perth Baptist held a special Thanksgiving service

The Perth Baptist Church had a special Thanksgiving Service on 30 May as part of the town’s bicentennial of the naming of the town.

The service focused on thanksgiving for the past, the present and the future. Those attending gave thanks to God for William and Mary Gibson whose vision and obedience to God resulted in the building of the church in 1889 and the hall opposite in 1862 along with many other churches in Tasmania.

It was noted that Perth was named by Governor Macquarie on one of his visits to the Gibson’s home. William Gibson was not a preacher, but he had the gift to generate a profit from his business and used that money to build churches and ‘import’ preachers from the Spurgeon College in England to pastor churches in Tasmania.

The vision for the church was for it to be a place of worship and to go forth and preach the gospel.

When the Gibson family home became too large for the needs of a single family, the home became a place of care for people with severe or multiple disabilities. Eskleigh Home was born, and remains today as a home for people with a disability. It was a blessing that some residents and their careers, were present at the Service.

Read more about Perth’s Thanksgiving Service in the June 2021 Regional RoundUp

Luminous Festival, Hobart

17th June to 4th July

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In the fourth century, Christians began celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25 in a reworking of the pagan Roman winter solstice celebrations. The cold, dark, bleak reality, of winter was an ideal time to celebrate the warmth and light of Christ coming into the world as a signpost of hope and redemption. Winter in Hobart lends itself to do the same.

This year, Hobart Baptist Church is challenging the city of Hobart with a festival coinciding with Dark Mofo. Several events are planned, and all are welcome!

Carols at the Tab Celebrating Christmas in Winter | 6pm, 2nd July


These Luminous events are now complete:
  • Breathe, Shine and Seek to Mend Michael Henderson Art Installation | LAUNCH 6pm, 17th June | OPEN 18th – 22nd June
  • Conversation with Ruth Burgess From Hindu Guru to Christian | 6pm 23rd June
  • Conversation Panel Religion, Spirituality and the Future of Tasmania | Jacquie Petrusma, Cassy O’Connor, Stephen Baxter, Paul Dare | 6pm 25th June

National Church Life Survey

How to be involved

We urge local churches to sign up for the 2021 National Church Life Survey (NCLS). It is a safe and effective tool to listen to churchgoers in unprecedented times.

Results will help local churches focus on the future. Set aside a week in either October or November for church attenders to complete these anonymous surveys (paper or online).

Local church results will arrive in early 2022.

See 2021ncls.org.au for more.

COVID-19 Crisis in Asia

From Roshan Mendis, Asian Pacific Baptist Aid (APBAid)

Please continue to keep APBAid in your prayers as we continue to serve our brothers and sisters who are in need in the region.
DONATE to their work here >>>


The devastation in India continues as it has recorded more than 25 million cases and 275,000 deaths, but experts say the real death toll is several times higher. Hundreds of corpses have been found floating and buried around the Ganges riverbank, highlighting the massive discrepancy in the deaths being reported. (Source – BBC.)

APBF Aid in India June 2021

With lockdowns extending across the country the poor working class of India have been hit the most, with little to no food, more borrowing, and no support to fall back on. (Source – Scroll.in)

It’s also with deep heartache that we bring the news of the tragic loss of over 40 Pastors from the Baptist family in India to this intense second wave. Please keep the families that have been left behind in your prayers. Continue to prayer for God’s comfort to surround them.

Nepal and Sri Lanka

Threat of surge in Covid cases as the more infectious Indian Variant is found in Nepal in the midst of lack of beds, oxygen, equipment and Health Workers.

As the Covid numbers rise, Nepal continues to struggle with sourcing vaccines and control the situation.

Sri Lanka has also seen an increase in the COVID cases, and a lockdown took effect from the 21st of May to manage crowd movement with upcoming religious festivals to help flatten the curve.


Over 100 days since the coup, and the fight for democracy still continues in Myanmar, with the people being relentless in their fight for democracy.

The United Nations in Myanmar warns of the impact on public health, including the COVID-19 response in Myanmar, due to the attacks on medical personnel and facilities, and reiterates its call for health workers, health facilities and patients to be protected.

Please continue to pray for justice for the people of Myanmar.


Bangladesh has also been affected with the extended lockdown being put in place to control the spread of the virus.

For more information on how you can help please  contact: roshan@apbf.org or Shereen.apbaid@apbf.org

READ MORE IN THIS JUNE 2021 ADVANCE | step by step

  • PROFILE Hobart Baptist Church
  • ASSEMBLY Welcome to Country (History-making!)
  • TESTIMONY From Swami to Christian

Religious Freedom Weekend

Conducted by Freedom for Faith

Join with Churches and Faith Communities across Australia to Pray for and Protect Religious Freedom

Faith groups across the nation will be praying for the globally persecuted and the protection of religious freedoms in Australia. Religious Freedom is only weakly protected in Australian law, and those protections are rapidly eroding.

Download the Resources Pack to find out more.

Visit: Religious Freedom Weekend >>>

Let your Light Shine

26 June 2021

Free training day for the leadership teams of our Town and Country Churches

An important message from our Mission Director, Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter

There is a special training day planned to support and encourage our Town and Country Churches (TaCC). These are a special and unique set of churches in our Union who serve in rural settings across our State. TaCC leadership teams are invited to another special time together.

This is an opportunity to meet with leaders of churches facing similar challenges and needs. It will be an important opportunity for TaCC teams to communicate and be heard by myself and Jeff McKinnon.

The Training Day is open to all, pastors, church leaders, and those in your church who would like to attend. I anticipate a representative from every TaCC to attend.

DETAILS: Let Your Light Shine Training Day
  • WHERE: Latrobe Baptist Church, 123 Gilbert Street Latrobe
  • WHEN: 10am-2.30pm Saturday 26 June
  • THEME: Let your light shine: taking the Gospel to your community
  • TRAINERS: Stephen Baxter and Jeff McKinnon
  • WHO: This event is open to all leaders of Town and Country Churches
  • COST: Free, including free refreshments and lunch
  • RSVP: Karen Buckney karen@riverlands.org.au by Friday 18 June.

Two AMAZING online Baptist conferences

  1. PASTORS MUSTER! Baptists in Mission Conference (July 5-7), available in Tasmania at regional hubs.
  2. Baptist World Congress (7-10 July) – free registration to Australian Baptists!

1. Baptists in Mission Conference, 5-7 July 2021


This is a great event so why not to attend!

A collaboration between Crossover Australia and Global Interaction

This conference is about the mission of God, and the mission of God is at the core of our Australian Baptist identity.

WHO IS IT FOR? Pastors, leadership teams, and emerging leaders

2. “Together” Online Conference, 7-10 July 2021

The Baptist World Alliance invites you to attend the 22nd Baptist World Congress.

Held every five years, the 2020 Baptist World Congress, originally planned to take place in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, was postponed due to COVID-19.

Together BWA conference 2021

The big news is that the postponed Congress will be available for online for Baptists to attend globally, with free entry for Australians!


A Special Update for Australian Baptists from the General Secretary Dr Elijah Brown, Baptist World Alliance, with news for Aussies about attending.

“We are called together to God’s global mission.”

Dr Elijah Brown, General Secretary Baptist World Alliance

TOGETHER22nd Baptist World Congress, July 7-10

Free For Aussies! REGISTER HERE >>> A code is available to access the freebie.
Please contact Karen Buckney to get hold of it: karen@riverlands.org.au … Or 6391 2202 9am-1pm Mon-Fri.

The US$70 registration is available to Australians, which includes:

READ MORE in the June 2021 ADVANCE | step by step

Baptists in Mission Conference

Baptists in Mission Conference

A Special Opportunity

Pastors’ and Leaders’ Muster: Online at regional hubs

A great event to attend!

A collaboration between Crossover Australia and Global Interaction

Baptists in Mission Conference

This conference is about the mission of God … and the mission of God is at the core of our Australian Baptist identity.

At our best we articulate the good news of Jesus in word and deed, always staying true to the heart of the Gospel and sensitive to cultural context. Christian witness has always needed translation and re-interpretation as it has made its way into and through cultures, empires, geographies, and languages. Enculturation is inherent to the Gospel. This requires the activity of the Spirit alongside the dedicated work of compassionate and curious followers of Jesus.

Pastors, leadership teams, and emerging leaders.

No matter your particular calling (eg. workplace evangelism, church planting, intercultural mission, Kingdom-centred social enterprises), each person will develop a fresh awareness of where they are located in the story of God’s mission. This awareness invariably leads to more intentional, faithful and effective participation in mission and evangelism.

Read the Program

Register – Baptists in Mission Conference

This is for ALL Tasmanian Baptist Pastors and leaders : REGISTER >>>

COST: $75 with a $60 subsidy from Tas Baptists (Contact karen@riverlands.org.au to claim your $60 reimbursement once you have registered)

Regional Hubs

Check the info about Tasmania >>>

SOUTH Citywide Lenah Valley | NORTH Riverlands Longford | (CANCELLED: NORTH WEST LifeWay Devonport)

Find out more

What’s it all about? >>>

Great speakers planned each session, for your inspiration!

Watch this short video

ADVANCE | step by step – June 2021

Love poured out, ADVANCE June 2021
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My love has been poured out into your hearts through the Holy Spirit

Based on Romans 5:5

Subscribe for your fortnightly email >>> | Request Print Version via Mail >>>

This Bible encouragement is such a good one. It’s so heartening to remember that God’s love is literally poured out, into you.

  • MAY ASSEMBLY from a first-timer, Stephen Avery (City Baptist)
  • Q&A with PAUL MANNING the new Baptist Word Aid Tas/Vic rep
  • YOUR CHURCH WILL BENEFIT from running Alpha.
  • PROFILE Hobart Baptist church
  • WELCOME to COUNTRY History made at May Assembly
  • TESTIMONY From Swami to Christian by Ruth Burgess
  • MORE FROM ASSEMBLY Michael Henderson and Jenna Blackwell serve you
  • FOSTERING Q&A with long-term carer Tracey Avery
  • FOOD FOR THE SOUL #nofilterchurch by Spiritual Director Denise Stephenson
  • BAPTISTS IN MISSION The Pastors’ and Leaders’ Muster 
  • FAREWELL Jeff McKinnon With thanks to a passionate servant
  • REGIONAL ROUNDUP Tasmanian Baptists in Action – Perth, Ulverstone, Wynyard, Citywide, Claremont, Hobart
  • NEED TO KNOW: NEWS – Religious Freedom Weekend | Training Day for TaCCs | TWO Online Baptist Conferences | EmpowHer Southern Walk | NCLS Survey 2021 |COVID-19 Crisis in Asia | Perth Celebrates | Hobart’s Luminous Festival | Pastors’ and Leaders’ Muster | Covid-19 in Bangladesh | KidzFest 2022 | Poetry from Ray Hawkins

Happy Reading!


All articles are available here: DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE PDF >>>

Jenny Baxter, God's love poured in to you

Jenny Baxter
Communications Manager
Tasmanian Baptists

Regional RoundUp June 2021

Regional RoundUp June 2021, Ulverstone youth
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around the grounds:

News from Perth, Ulverstone, Wynyard, Citywide, Claremont, Hobart

Tasmanian Baptists in Action

The next Regional RoundUp due date is Friday 20th August.
Please send contributions to jenny@tasbaptists.org.au



Perth Baptist Tabernacle

The Perth Baptist Church had a special Thanksgiving Service on 30th May as part of the town’s bicentennial of the naming of the town.

During the service some spoke of their and their family’s involvement in the activities of the church over many generations. Another spoke of his time at the church at the Easter camps, run there in the 1950’s and 60’s and of his conversion at one of the camps. The camps have been a blessing to many through generations.

In giving thanks for the present a focus on the town and its growth and the way in which the church serves the community was apparent.

In talking about the future, We gave thanks for the current influx of new families with children and teenagers, who are commencing their life journey with a view to make a difference in their community.

The church’s community program continues with a balance of providing help to those in need in the town along with providing a place of worship and fellowship and the preaching of the gospel of salvation.

The service was another step in the people of Perth seeing beyond the historical Baptist Tabernacle that dominates the town to an inviting, warm and open Christian fellowship who make up the only local church.



May Mission Month

We embraced May Mission Month as we listened and heard a challenge by guest speakers Scott and Bronwyn Waterhouse. Both Scott and Bronwyn shared their hearts and spoke of the work they do in helping people in Ulverstone through City Mission and New Mornings.

It was wonderful to watch videos in our church service prepared by our three missionary families who we support financially and prayerfully. Technology sure is a great way to stay connected and informed, and it is a privilege to share in the journey with each of them.

Youth Group

Our UB Youth have continued to meet together fortnightly on Saturdays throughout Term Two. They have enjoyed an 80’s theme night (pictured), where the leaders may have had too much fun dressing up!

Ulverstone Baptist 80s youth night

We had a bonfire at Camp Clayton, where our youth band led a time of worship, and some of our kids shared their testimonies. When invited, a number of kids came forward to either ask Jesus to be Lord of their life, or to recommit their life to Him. This really was an exciting evening of which we are still praising God for.

We finished our term with a Youth-Take-Over night where the youth ran the night., with a glow-in-the-dark theme. Everyone was encouraged to come wearing black so we could deck them out in glow sticks and glow paint. The youth organised and ran our entire night with the devotion and games centred on Jesus being light. Once again, our youth band led us in worship. We are excited for our planned term 3 program to commence, but even more excited to do life with these amazing kids and watch them grow in their relationship with Jesus and each other.

The gift of song

Over the last couple of months, it has been a blessing to have a number of people join us on a Sunday morning from the Solomon Islands. On Mother’s Day they ministered to us in song – an absolute treat! The songs they sang were moving and heartfelt. In addition, our Tuesday morning craft group kindly knitted each of them a beanie to aid in keeping them warm while they pick fruit.


Alpha continues on a Wednesday evening, as we join together for a meal, watch, listen, love and have great conversation. We have just enjoyed a weekend together at Camp Clayton.


Wednesday Get Together
Wynyard Baptist church
Wynyard church entrance, nearing completion

Wednesday Get Together for fun and fellowship,  recently enjoyed a bus trip to the Arboretum Botanical Garden at Eugenana, south of Devonport. They enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Berry Patch.

They now meet on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month.


The Sunday School children and some parents had a pancake morning. This is an annual event.

Chat ‘n’ Choose

Many ladies in the community are looking forward to Chat ‘n’ Choose commencing on July 22nd after a long break due to Covid.


Approximately 90 men gathered for a Pizza night for JUST BLOKES when the guest speaker was Bob Bramley who is an ambassador for SURVIVING TURBULENCE. Bob takes to the skies to break a solo flying record, and shine a light on youth mental health.

JUST BLOKES meets quarterly, it gives men across the NW Tasmania an opportunity to connect, encourage and support other men in their physical, mental and spiritual journeys.



It’s been a busy three months at Citywide and we’re praising God for personal growth, celebrations and blessings. We celebrated the baptisms of Mitchell Semmens and Amalie Menzies, witnessing to their ‘encounters’ and commitment to Jesus. We’re praising God for a new ‘miracle’ baby, Jason Rai, in our Nepalese congregation. We’ve enjoyed some family bush walks, and for some the challenges of longer, more rugged walks.

Citywide Morningotn

30 people committed to a 5-week course, The Calling Lab, designed to help people discern and find God’s calling for their life. This has been a great impetus for people who earnestly want to seek God’s direction for them. Additionally, we held a one day seminar run by the Victorious Ministries in Christ team designed for people to find freedom from their blockages to growth. A truly anointed day for over 30 people who attended, many of whom have had breakthroughs and others receiving follow-up 1:1 prayer ministry. God is good!

Praise God, our Nepalese congregation have been successful in receiving a grant from the Tas Development Fund to purchase a new hybrid car with modifications for their outreach program of driver mentoring for immigrant arrivals.

Citywide will be hosting a 2021 local Global Leadership Summit on 29 October. There is an invitation to anyone from our sister churches who would like to join us – just email church@citywidehobart.org.au and let us know. Early bird price is $60 – great value for inspiring input.


Claremont winter dinner

Claremont Baptist had a wonderful Winter Dinner at our local RSL in June (pictured). We were able to invite friends and family to share an informal evening with us. Good to get to know some of our regulars’ family members.

Book Nook originally started as a community book exchange. Gradually it has become a pleasant morning for church and locals to drop in for a cuppa and a chat and some even scan the bookshelves. This low-key outreach continues to grow and flourish.

We are sadly farewelling the Wilson-Roberts family as they take up new career options on the mainland. Garth and Rebecca have been members since their childhoods and have held active positions in our church leadership. We know the Lord has plans for them and we send them out in love in His care. We ask for prayer as we approach the QBM in August, for our willingness to seek God’s leading and the filling of leadership positions.


Redevelopment News

Our redevelopment is complete! Praise God after five years of blood, sweat and tears we now have a fantastic new facility! we look forward to welcoming wayfarers, sojourners and church family of all nationalities.

Read the final “Redevelopment Update”, with some photos, HERE >>>

Luminous Festival

With our new facilities, the Luminous Festival has been taking place at Hobart since 17th June, and concludes on 4th July.

The Festival has been a conscious effort to connect with the local community with a story of hope and light during the Dark Mofo season.

  • Over 300 people viewed Breathe, Shine and Seek to Mend, Michael Henderson’s art installation, during five days.
  • Ruth Burgess spoke to 43 people about her life as a yoga teacher and Hindu ascetic, and her subsequent shift to Christianity after 35 years.
  • Stephen Baxter, Paul Dare, Jacquie Petrusma MP and Cassy O’Connor MP discussed “The Future of Religion and Spirituality in Tasmania”. 72 people attended, and took the form of a panel, hosted by Grace Williams.
  • Christmas in Winter: Carols in the Tab, on Friday 2nd July promises to be a great event. ALL WELCOME! Registrations are essential >>>

READ MORE in the June 2021 ADVANCE | step by step

Farewell Jeff McKinnon!

Stephen Baxter and Jeff McKinnon Dec 2019
Advance Dec-20, Jeff McKinnon
Above: Jeff (right) with Mission Director Stephen Baxter

After over 20 years of service to Tasmanian Baptists, Mission Leadership Team member Jeff McKinnon finished his time on staff on Wednesday 30th of June. While Jeff has “retired” from Tasmanian Baptists, he will continue with City Baptist (Launceston) for some years yet!

Let’s say “Farewell Jeff” by thanking him for his amazing contribution to the Baptist movement.

In particular, Jeff has impacted the Tasmanian Baptist Council with his work, passion and energy. The two most recent chairpeople were approached for comment about Jeff . . .

Peter Clarke, Chair, Tasmanian Baptist Council, 2018 to the  present

“I have been serving with Tasmanian Baptists for just over 20 years. Throughout that whole time one of the constants has been Jeff McKinnon.

“Jeff has served in a huge number of roles including local church pastor, and leadership with Tas Baptists. His name just keeps on cropping up wherever you go. Ministry has never been “just a job” for Jeff. It is a calling which he has sown into sacrificially.

“I have been inspired by his passion and commitment to the important things in life – the sort of things Jesus would be concerned about. Jeff has shown that faith in Christ should be accompanied by real and tangible efforts to improve the lives of the vulnerable and for each of us to live responsibly in God’s beautiful creation.

“As he moves into this new season in his life I know that God will continue to use Jeff to bless others.”

Wendy Marston, Chair, Tasmanian Baptist Council, 2014 to 2018

“I worked closely with Jeff particularly when I was the Chair of the Tas Baptist Council. Jeff has skills and attributes which are many and varied. I’ve made a list – although no doubt there are more!”

  • Thorough
  • Gives thoughtful responses
  • Passionate about justice for all,
  • Diligent
  • Great teacher
  • Helpful
  • Good listener
  • Good at bringing people together
  • Great Bible knowledge
  • Reliable
  • Good facilitator
  • In depth, well-researched preaching.

Farewell Jeff by playing the Wordfind using Wendy’s words:
There’s Something About Jeff >>>

Overview of Jeff’s Work with Tasmanian Baptists, 1990 to 2021

1990 to 1999

Jeff and Sue McKinnon (pictured) commenced ministry in Tasmania in June 1990 as Rob Beeston was retiring as Superintendent. After a brief gap, Norman Pell became the Superintendent for seven years in the 1990s. During these years Jeff worked closely with Norman, especially with two stints on the Pastoral Committee, the second as Chairperson.

Norman encouraged Jeff to start Baptist Pastors Renewal Retreats. This grew into an interdenominational retreat strategy initially run by Tasmanian Baptists. Ladies’ retreats were also added. Jeff led this strategy for over 20 years. He also offered support to Baptist church plants at Bridport and Port Sorell.

2000 to 2010

After Norman’s retirement there was a gap between Superintendents. Jeff served on a Review Committee led by Ivan James in the late 1990s. From this, Garry Billing was called as Superintendent in 2000, serving until 2010.

Jeff worked closely with Garry in various ways including convening his advisory group. During these years Jeff coordinated the Tasmanian Baptist Consultancy Team, receiving six years’ training from Les Scarborough. He served as Vice President, President and then Immediate Past President, including serving on the Tasmanian Baptist Council, in 2000-2003. With Ivan Jordan, Jeff facilitated a well-attended rural ministry day at Sheffield.

Jeff has served on the Mission Leadership Team since 2008. Within that role he has provided oversight of the northern churches and pastors, and the Town and Country Churches.

Northern Pastors Sept 2019

In Launceston, he encouraged pastors to meet for coffee weekly and church leadership groups to gather three or four times per year (pictured in September 2019). In about 2010 Jeff wrote a paper considering options for the future of Tasmanian Baptists. Should we join the Baptist Union of Victoria (BUV)? Could we join BUV as a special region? If we retain our independence, what leadership model will serve us best?

2010 to 2017

John Smith, former Seperintendant

At Garry’s retirement in 2010, John Smith (pictured) was inducted as Superintendent. He served in this role for about eight years. In this period Jeff again led the Pastoral Committee.

In 2011, in liaison with the BUV, Jeff drafted policies regarding pastors, and from 2013 implemented the Professional Development Process.

Jeff was a founding board member of A Just Cause (“Baptist Churches working for a more just world”). He also represented Tasmanian Baptists at various national meetings. Since 2016, Jeff also led a number of Converge teams from Tasmania to Canberra. He set up the Pioneering Incubator in about 2015.

In 2016 the first Understanding the Baptist Movement study intensive was held. As at 2021, 49 people have completed this study.

In 2016 Jeff assisted the Superintendent as Investigator and then Supervisor in a matter of serious allegations of misconduct of one of our pastors. This process continued over a twelve-month period.

2017 to 2021

Stephen Baxter (pictured with Jeff) became Mission Director in July 2017. Jeff set up and coordinated the Tasmanian Baptist Social Justice Taskforce. He returned for a final year on Council in 2020-2021.

Jeff has conducted reviews and consultancies in about eight Baptist churches, plus one for the Hobart churches; preached in 22 of our churches; conducted interim ministries at Citywide, Taroona, City and Wynyard; mentored numerous Baptist pastors, each for 2-4 years; and assisted five churches find new pastors.

All About Being a Foster Carer

Foster Care, Tracey Avery

Children Need Community

Advance Dec-20, Tracey Avery

Tracey Avery attends City Baptist Launceston, and is a long-term foster carer.

Tell us about where you live and what your family looks like at the moment?
The Averys
Tracy and Stephen Avery

I live in Launceston with my husband Stephen. Between us, we have five children aged between 16 and 28 years. In our home at present, we have my three children and my daughter’s fiancé, and we are preparing for our first grandbaby. Stephen’s two adult children live independently.

My children are not biological, they have all come through a government-run foster care agency. The oldest has lived with me since he was two years old, has tried living independently three times, and for various reasons that has not worked out for him. The middle girl is 18, has lived with me for 16 years, and her fiancé also lives with us. They are expecting a baby in August.

The youngest girl is 16, and has lived with me since she was eleven months old. I became legal guardian to the youngest when she was three, and the middle when she was nine years of age. Having guardianship made parenting easier in regard to decision making.

When and why did you begin fostering?

I have been fostering for 26 years. I started foster caring for two reasons: the desire to become a parent; and wanting to make a difference in the lives of children who were unable to live within their own biological family. Stephen is new on this journey with me. God knew exactly what we all needed when He brought Stephen into our world.

What are some of the challenges you face as a foster parent?

It can be lonely if you don’t reach out, it takes courage. Fostering is rewarding and has daily challenges. For me having three children, all from different families under one roof, felt like I was like parenting three different families. Since the beginning I have facilitated contact with their families, and although challenging at times, I believe it has benefited the children in making their own decisions in regard to relationships within their families.

I would love to see the church rise up and support carers and the children they are caring for, even to somehow connect with their families.

When my girls were young and we would go to church, and many Sundays I really had to push through to be there. I would watch people within the congregation connect with other children, just not mine. Perhaps it was because the congregation didn’t want to connect with them, but I do wonder if they just didn’t have the skills.

The church and foster care

As I journaled about this I wondered: if the church cannot love and connect with the children that come into the church through foster care, then how will the church ever love the people out in the communities and on the streets?

Fostering changes your life forever, and it comes at a cost to all. As a foster carer I have chosen that path. My eyes are wide open to the hurt and brokenness the children and their families experience. Whilst I have a choice to be a foster carer, the children don’t have a choice to come into foster care.

How does being a Christian foster carer make a difference to what you do?

I love the peace that God places within. On days where I have been challenged beyond comprehension, I still have this sense of His peace. Knowing that God loves my children more than I can ever imagine, I know He is my strength and He will carry me through those days.

What is the best piece of advice you have received about fostering?

I would advise others to connect and build a community around you, and the children, in your care. Most importantly, be kind to yourself, schedule time out.

Do you ever feel sad, or guilty, or uncomfortable about the idea of raising other people’s children?

I have had a range of emotions over the years. My heart breaks for my children, that they were not able to be raised within their own biological families. I am thankful for the relationships I have with my children and their families. It is my privilege to be a light and carry a banner for God into their lives.

Do you have support from others to assist you in your foster care journey?

Yes, over the years I have gathered a team of friends who are supportive of myself and my children. Honestly, I’m not sure what I would have done without their support.

What are some practical things people can do to assist a foster carer?

Befriend them. Come alongside them, and do life with them. We all need community, love and acceptance. The children need a community around them. They need that reassurance that there are people available to step in, to help out through times when circumstances are out of our control.

Pray that foster children will know Jesus
How can we pray for you and your family?

Pray that our children will all have a relationship with Jesus, and find the love and acceptance that they crave within the world. At the end of the day nothing matters, only our relationship with God.

I am thankful for my journey as a foster carer. I would not be who I am today if I had not had the privilege of raising and loving other people’s children. Even in the hard days I am thankful.

Tracey Avery

Keeping it Real – #nofilter Church

Keeping it Real, #nofilter church
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food for thought:

By Denise Stephenson
Heartlands News
Denise Stephenson

Denise Stephenson is a trained Spiritual Director and, until December 2020, was Spiritual Formation Pastor at LifeWay Baptist Church Devonport. What is #nofilter church? Read on to find out!

I love Instagram!

All those squares filled with beautiful pictures of magical places, designer interiors, and adorable children dressed in linen!

Most of us (on our good days) recognise that Instagram is the home of “This Filtered Life”. Isn’t it tempting to apply a “filter” to life so it looks good on the outside?

Whilst none of us really expects social media to be an honest reflection of life, most of us hope our communities of faith would be the one place we feel safe enough to be our “unfiltered” self. But if I am honest, church is often a place, as much as any other, where I have felt pressure to look, act or feel a particular kind of way.

We say, “Come as you are”, but really we mean come if you feel upbeat, on top of things, happy and well – and if you’re not, at least try act as if you are. Apply the “worship” filter where it’s smiling, happy people holding hands. “We’re here to worship God!!” Amen?!

We try and “stay together”

What would our community of faith look like if it was #nofilter? Denise Stephenson

What would our community of faith, and our worship, look like if it was #nofilter? In the weeks following my husband Mark’s cancer diagnosis, I really didn’t feel like going to church. But, being one of the pastors, I turned up to church each week, determined to keep it all ‘together’. I had my “filter” firmly in place.

As soon as the songs started, every word would punch into my gut, and I would start crying… which was the LAST thing I wanted to do. Welcome to #nofilter! It was awful but it was real. Without me noticing, people would come to stand with me, and after the service, friends would slip into the chair beside me and pray for me.

I would go home, still in pain, still afraid, a blotchy, red-faced teary mess but having what I needed to keep going.

Embrace what God does for you

It takes guts to show our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses, and our messiness – to be real. But that’s exactly what God wants from us. God isn’t fooled by the filter, and wants to see the real person made in his image. I find that such a relief. I love The Message translation of Romans 12:1-2 which says:

Here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 

Romans 12:1-2 MSG

Let’s start #nofilter Sunday, and see what happens when we give God our real self. I think it could change church.

For good!

Denise Stephenson

Denise, and her husband Mark, recently moved to Lymington (south of Cygnet) where they are exploring new ways of being a community of faith in their new neighbourhood. Even so, Denise still works in Cygnet as an offshoot of LifeWay Devonport. Denise and Mark sail, garden, chop wood (it’s cold down here!) and hang out in cafes, getting to know their new neighbourhood, and keeping a lookout for what God is doing down in the deep south.