HOPE. Across the globe this Covid-19 season, we hope like birds in cages.
We HOPE the virus will dissipate; that vaccinations will help; that loved ones are kept safe.
How important to remember Jeremiah’s words: “God has plans to give us a HOPE and a FUTURE”.
Take hold of hope by joining the National Prayer Gathering for the Covid Situation on Tuesday 31 August. Find out more below.
This issue includes . . . FROM THE MD: Stephen Baxter with treasures new and old INTERVIEW: Liam Conway Ministry Apprentice at Hobart: he is a gift! HOSPITALS IN PNG: Prayers answered to avoid closure (a gift of PPE) FOOD FOR THOUGHT:Jenna Blackwell wrestles with being a missionary in Tasmania CHURCH PROFILE: LifeWay Devonport, now ministering in the South! MERGE YOUTH:Citywide are kicking goals REGIONAL ROUNDUP: City, Latrobe, Westbury, Claremont, Citywide and Hobart NATIONAL PRAYER GATHERING: Nationwide prayer against COVID-19 CONVERGE CONFERENCE: Advocating to our government leaders NEED TO KNOW (news): GATEWAY turns 145! | EmpowHer Northwest walk | Request from Library Aid International | Tas Baptists’ website | Fostering Hope devotional-zoom | Australian Christian Literature Awards | Baptist Basketball Grand Final | Stand Sunday | Farewell PETER CUTHBERTSON | Ray’s Poem
“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.”
Will Graham is coming to Tasmania next year, and there will be a KidzFest program as part of the Saturday program.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
All this changed.
My life was rearranged,
New desires took hold of me,
Changing me completely.
Saying ‘thanks’ is an important part of living together as well as in our relationship with God.
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.
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
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.)
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.
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.
Free training day for the leadership teams of our Town and Country Churches
An important message from our Mission Director, 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 arepresentative 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
Pastors’ and Leaders’ Muster: Online at regional hubs
A great event 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.
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.
WHO IS IT FOR? 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.
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
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.
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!
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
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.
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 email@example.com and let us know. Early bird price is $60 – great value for inspiring input.
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.
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.
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.
At the May 2021 Assembly Michael Henderson and Jenna Blackwell spoke, describing their new positions with Tasmanian Baptists from 1st July.
Tasmanian Baptists are now described as “mission-shaped”. But in the real world, how do churches do that?
Community engagement is the answer! For churches and leaders, it’s either a new way of thinking, or else, shifting 20th Century concepts into 21st Century form.
Mission and Leadership Development
Thankfully help is at hand! From 1st July, Michael and Jenna are set aside to serve you and your church with mission leadership and development.
Michael with Mission and Leadership Development
Jenna as Mission and Leadership Coach
At the recent Assembly, they both spoke about how they can serve you and your church. Their talks were interesting, informative, and gave a glimpse into the ways in which Tasmanian Baptist churches can “skill-up” to connect with the community where God has placed them.
It is important to realign our investments of time, energy, finances and resources to reimaging and reengaging afresh with what God is doing in Tasmania.
One of the major ways to reengage with our communities is a focus on coaching leaders, disciples, followers of Jesus, missionaries, and people of God. It is a call to let our finances reflect our values and priorities.
We often do all we can to protect what we think is good. But when it looks like a fruit tree has died, there’s a dilemma – to graft or to uproot? My avocado tree earlier this year suffered damage and I had to face this very question.
A question was posed to me:‘Are we afraid to give up Sunday church gatherings because we don’t trust that something new might arise?’
This is an uncomfortable question that raises different things in each of us. Our reaction will be different based on personality, values and experiences.
If we want different results, we must change the way we do things.
Act and reimagine
Tom Northup says, “All organisations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If we want different results, we must change the way we do things.” So, if we want different results, we have to be courageous enough to act and to reimagine.
Tasmanian Baptists want to realign for the sake of the Kingdom of God, for the sake of Tasmanians, and for the sake of member churches and faith communities.
Support the development of new faith communities
Improve communication – both from Tasmanian Baptists and to member churches and faith communities
Train and empower servant-hearted leaders, disciples and missionaries to walk the intersection of worship, community and mission
Help people discover their unique calling and to reimagine with God what this could look like in everyday life, and reengage with others as they walk this out
One major way we are realigning is through coaching.One day a week, I can now coach anyone in our churches, but particularly women and young adults. Tasmanian Baptists cover all costs to recipients through my employment.
This is massive! By way of comparison, most coaches charge a minimum of $100/hour.
About Christian coaching
Christian coaching is “an ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling,” suggests Keith Webb.
Coaching enables the journey of spiritual transformation. As a participant-owned activity, it results in action. Coaching can be short term or long term, project or individual based. For example, focus on:
General growth and transformation – developing self-understanding of personality, strengths, gifts and values …
Role/missional engagement and initiatives
Problem/project to work on solutions and outcomes
Now is the time to act,! To try new things and to decide how to graft or uproot. We don’t want to still be talking about it in five years’ time, with no growth.
Here’s my avocado tree more recently, starting the new growth process.
It’s time to reimagine getting involved with what God is doing in Tasmania. And to reengage, welcoming our communities to experience the presence of God afresh, with cultural understanding.
Please get in touch with me to discuss the benefit to you and your church through coaching!
I see my role as holding hope for you, the leaders, and churches, of Tasmanian Baptists.
Holding hope, that our God has not abandoned us. That he is with us, that he is always doing a new thing in our midst, and that he is trustworthy to his promises of grace and beauty and love going out across our state and world.
Hope, despite the challenges and events that surround us. I hold hope, and try to give hope and courage, that we can respond to the challenges, and see people in our communities grow in their awareness of God and what he can do in our world.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Noticing, with Courage
God is always taking us beyond the horizon. He is always doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:18-19), and our role is to notice it and join in with courage. If this requires us to reimagine what is possible, then that is what I, and our Tasmanian Baptist leadership, are here for. Here is my list of priorities and ways that I, and we as Tasmanian Baptists Leadership, can support your church:
Love your community’s heart … so you can join your community’s story and what God is already doing there. Because church can’t be defined as good church people saving bad community members.
Listen to and support pastors and leaders … where you are at, understanding your challenges and opportunities and helping you succeed. This includes helping you understand and implement the new state strategy around the new vision of church.
Inspiring your church
Church measures that tell your story … because every church measures things, and sometimes they are terrible measures that reinforce a negative story. But if the measurements reinforce a positive story, change is possible.
Listening prayer and innovation in the church … because finding out what God is already doing changes everything.
Young leader development … especially around leadership.
Rethinking finance and giving … because there are contemporary fundraising methods, used by other non-profit organisations, that are culturally appropriate to church.
I am so looking forward to what we can do together. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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
“Iworked 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!”
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.
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
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.