Paul Dare spoke a moving Welcome to Country at the 2021 May Assembly.
“This is the beginning of something amazing.”
Paul writes of his emotions and responses to that moment . . .
For those unlucky enough not to be at the Assembly in May, there was a welcome to country done for the first time I can remember. To me this was an incredible release of emotion and relief – let me tell you why.
As a proud indigenous Lia Pootah man, this was momentous.Setting aside years of ‘whiteness’, we acknowledged the traditional custodians of the land.
There are some times in my life where I know I’m going to be emotional before it happens, and this was one of them. To me it was akin to the acknowledgement of Jesus, and welcoming of the Holy Spirit into my life. I have thought about it and these are strong words, but the relief I felt with the welcome to country was similar to the peace I felt when I first felt God within me. It was as powerful as that!
I have thought about why this was so and it has a lot to do with oppression and the whitewashing of my history not only by society, but my family’s history.
When I was growing up we were toldtherewere no Tasmanian aboriginals left. My dad was told never to mention it. But through time I began to understand more of my history, and more of my ‘connection to land’. I have discovered a peace in my ancestral home that in whiteness is not normal, but for me it’s confirmation of everything that I am as a person and I am in God.
Welcome to country is important because it is our way of welcoming all, regardless of your history, in peace and friendship. We welcome you to take from the land what it can sustainably give and no more. We want to encourage growth of bonds and ideas. As well, we want to encourage you to grow in spirit (Holy Spirit) and see the land the way we see it. I use ‘we’ here because it is all about community and not the individual.
When I was growing up, we were told there were no Tasmanian aboriginals left.
So where to from here?Baptist people can help with reconciliation can heal wounds, both known and unknown, by having a welcome to country at your church. It is a powerful statement to the community and to your heart.
Yours in Christ, Paul Dare
Born in Wynyard, Paul is a “proud” indigenous Lia Pootah man who grew up in Myalla. He has been an electronics technician, aerospace engineer, army officer and pastor. He retired in 2019, but currently serves as the pastor of the Levendale Fellowship (Citywide).
Paul is the author of the Tasmanian Baptists’ Acknowledgement of Country on this website.
ADVANCE | step by step now features a series of church profiles. This issue it’s all about Hobart Baptist Church.
In this church profile, read an overview from the Church Secretary, Heather Galloway. Then continue scrolling for highlights from church member, Sonya Ambrose.
From the Church Secretary: Heather Galloway
My name is Heather, and I am the Secretary of Hobart Baptist Church.
That sounds simple, and I’m sure it would be if admin was my area of expertise, and if our church life was “normal”.
Jim and I have been married for nearly 39 years. We are both “retired”, have three lovely daughters (pictured), and we’ve just been blessed with three grandsons in under five months!
I am Tasmanian-born, my parents having emigrated from England post-WWII. To quote the late Graham Clements, I was “carried into this church as a baby”, and have grown up in the church with my family. I was baptised at the age of 20, and have been a member of HBC for 46 years!
My days of serving the church began by helping my father count the offering. He was Treasurer for five years until I was eight, so I clearly began at an early age! I guess that set the scene, and it’s probably not surprising I follow in his footsteps.
A tiny taste of heaven!
Hobart Baptist Church is a city church with a long history of engaging the City of Hobart in many ways. We continue to do so, trusting God, who calls us to serve the people here.
For well over 100 years migrants, and refugees from around the globe, have found welcome and “sanctuary”, making HBC their home. We’ve had an active refugee support team for 40 years, and the current ethnic diversity reflects that care, and a willingness to mirror what Heaven will look like. Joel Ortiz, our Multicultural Pastor supports us in that ministry.
Pictured: Back in 2014 we took a church photo which shows our diversity. It’s probably time for another one!
HBC in the political arena
In the past, politicians from all levels of government have been members of HBC. However now, our Senior Pastor Stephen Baxter, as Chair of the Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, can speak into Tasmania’s political arena in a different way.
I’ve discovered the value of having conversations with politicians from all sides of the spectrum.
HBC and The Arts
Some years ago, we expressed a desire to engage with the city through the Arts, and that has now begun! Artist-in-Residence Michael Henderson is using Dark Mofo as an opportunity to engage with the city with an art installation during our new Luminous Festival. The exhibition is titled Breathe, Shine and Seek to Mend. We’d love to see you if you can make it! (You can REGISTER HERE >>>)
This will create opportunities to have conversations to bring the Light of Jesus into the dark world. This year, our second Christmas in Winter will follow the Festival.
Becoming real: Our redevelopment dream
Over my lifetime at HBC there have been many changes, both in terms of the physical building, and the people of the church. For decades there have been dreams of improving the facilities.
Now, as Hobart Baptist nears the end of a substantial building redevelopment, it is easy to see why earlier dreams have not been fulfilled. There has been so much blood, sweat and tears involved! The redevelopment cost nearly $9m, and was a lot of extra work, and stress, for a small group of people, me included.
Pictured from left: New glass-doored entrance to foyer between “The Tab”, and old Soundy Building with doors to the new cafe; The apartments built on the back of the property; Forecourt works underway; New foyer nearly complete!
Why did we do it? We want people to see life in the building! To have facilities the community will find welcoming, thus providing opportunities to have conversations with people who would not normally enter a church building.
We began the redevelopment before Covid-19 changed our lives. Now, more than ever, we need to discern where God is leading us and to trust him. We have to discover the depth and breadth of our current church family, and what God is calling them to do in our new spaces, as we seek to be a prophetic voice in the City of Hobart.
Moving into the future
We’re in for an exciting time. There are so many opportunities right before us. I envisage the church alive through the week – I look forward to meeting friends in our cafe, having conversations, engaging with those around us, reaching out into the community, people coming to know Jesus, and others returning to the fold.
Where will I fit in? I’m not sure, but God knows. I trust him to give us the strength for the next phase of life of Hobart Baptist Church. Please pray that he will!
By Sonya Ambrose
Sonya Ambrose participates in the Kids’ Church ministry and the Music team at Hobart Baptist church. She is the mother of five, and is married to Scott.
Last year, after several months of online worship, it was exciting to begin meeting together again in “The Tab” and seeing the faces of our wonderfully diverse congregation. In March we celebrated ‘Sanctuary Sunday’. We reflected on the way that HBC has long been a refuge for people of many different nationalities.
Our children particularly enjoyed the opportunity to resume Kids’ Church. Building developments have necessitated some re-shuffling of kids’ activities such as Kids’ Church and Boys’ Brigade, but the children have enjoyed using our new church hall for active games, singing, dancing and craft activities. Boys’ Brigade have temporarily moved to Hobart City Church of Christ, who have graciously accommodated approximately 30-40 energetic boys every Friday evening.
Our family were delighted to participate in several church gatherings over past months. ‘Meeting Jesus at the Beach’ was a big hit, with beach cricket, swimming, treasure hunt and some wonderfully dramatic and interactive storytelling of the house built upon the rock by our multicultural pastor Joel Ortiz dressed in flowing white robes. (He was “Jesus”!) More recently, our church families fellowshipped together at Bellerive park for lunch and kids’ activities.
Our HBC family have been observing the building redevelopment with eager anticipation. Whilst it has been a long, and sometimes painful process, we can rejoice that the end is now in sight. We are hopeful that our new facilities will provide exciting new opportunities for connecting with and serving our city.
Pictured: The Ambrose Family – Scott, Sonya and their children
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?
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.
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.
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.
Firstly, read an overview from the pastor, Rodney Marshall. Then continue scrolling for highlights from church member, Meg Roberts, and some memories from former pastor Jeff McKJinnon.
From Riverlands Baptist Pastor: Rodney Marshall
I’m Rodney, the Tas Baptists’ Administrator, Riverlands Pastor, insurance man . . . and I have many other hats. Today’s hat is that of Pastor of Riverlands Christian Community at Longford, where I’ve been for over three years. Tracey and I have three married daughters, and five grandkids. (No. 6 is coming soon!)
I grew up in Ulverstone, becoming a Christian in a cult at age 23. It took me 10 years to break free from the cult, and many more after that to work out what I really believe.
Riverlands is known to many in the Baptist community as the place many Assemblies are held. We have a wonderful building, that is only 20 years old, and it is a blessing. While it is a little out of the centre of town, it is increasingly becoming an important part of the community.
Riverlands is known to many in the Baptist community as the place many Assemblies are held.
New opportunities to connect with our community
Last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 troubles, we opened our door to Meals on Wheels, who now have their regional distribution base here. As well, a Kiosk for Carers to access support and information will open soon. These community programs are part of our engagement with the people of Longford and surrounding area.
Late last year the Northern Midlands Council approached us to ask if we would host a Neighbourhood house. The house would have a goal of seeking to provide services and support to struggling groups throughout the area. Council was unsuccessful at its initial attempts to gain funding through the Tasmanian Community Fund but continues to seek funding from other sources.
Our church partners with chaplains at both Longford Primary and Cressy High School, providing mentors and support to the Breakfast Club. We are actively looking for other ways to engage the children and parents of Longford. Recently a young mum has come to us seeking to hire a space to run Alpha for other mums. She seemed surprised when we offered her not only the space for free, but support in setting up and running the program.
Sundays . . . and moving forward
Most weeks our Sunday morning service has someone new in attendance. Visitors traveling the state, old members testing the waters on returning, new people to Longford looking for a church, and the new Christians who church members have walked alongside. It’s lovely looking out and wondering “Who is that person?”
It’s lovely looking out and wondering “Who is that person?”
With all that’s happening around the place it’s important to keep our focus on Jesus and what he is doing. His heart is for all the people struggling in life and reaching out for help in so many wrong places. Finding the right way to engage is a critical part of moving forward.
The church has been looking for someone to work with us in reaching young families, and providing support to parents. Maybe that is being provided for us by a young mum in a way we didn’t ever expect. Maybe it is just a step down a path we never thought about. Either way we are excited to see what Jesus does.
Please pray for us as we seek wisdom, boldness and passion in seeing God’s kingdom come into the lives of the people in our community.
By Meg Roberts
Riverlands’ Baptist Groups Connecting With Local Community
At Riverlands our various groups have been up and running again for a while, some with more participants than before lockdown, some with less.
Neighbours Group meets fortnightly. Lunch used to be on the menu before COVID-19 struck, but is not practical now. Folk still come for a good chat, the occasional quiz, and a very good morning tea.
Threads of Friendship Craft Group are working on a variety of individual projects, from “Diamond Painting” (about which a few said, “I could never do that” but who are now really enjoying it) to crocheting and card-making. As a group we will no doubt soon be back into making gifts for the Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.
Games Group ladies were meeting in private homes for a while after lockdown but are happy to have joined together again at the church. All the groups are meeting in the foyer for the time being to comply with social distancing.
Stay and Play have their own area and it is a busy time with little people and their carers – mums, dads, aunts, or grandparents. Feeding the sheep in the adjoining paddock is a highlight, along with a variety of activities. There are also a few folk from our congregation to help or be a listening ear.
Heather Hockey’s Farewell
On Sunday 14th March 2021, we at Riverlands Baptist held a delightful farewell service. We gave thanks for the various areas that Heather Hockey, and her husband Les, contributed to over 18 years of attending Longford Baptist/Riverlands. Les is now with his Lord, and Heather is moving to Queensland to be near family.
It was lovely to have some of Heather’s friends as part of our congregation, including some from the Neighbours Group that Heather has looked after for many years.
Various members of our congregation spoke in appreciation of Heather. For many years she led a team of caterers for functions held in our church building. Participants noticed her care for people in general, and for those with special dietary needs. We even had a poem read to us highlighting some of Les and Heather’s exploits! Heather has also put a lot of prayer and work into the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Shoeboxes: “There will be many in heaven who will thank her for bringing them to Jesus”.
Heather spoke of how much God had helped her and Les, and of the help and blessing that many in the church had been, especially as Les’ health deteriorated.
Her strong Christian walk and faith shone out during all parts of the church service, which ended with the Elders praying for her. Heather is a friend and encourager to many and although she will be very much missed, we were glad to give her our blessing as we sent her on to her next adventure, led by Jesus.
Memories of the Transition to our New Building
As the pastor who oversaw the move from the old Longford Tabernacle to the new Riverlands building, Jeff McKinnon has some unique perspectives!
Prayer was a very important element right throughout the decision-making and building process.
The building was not to be ‘a church’. Rather, the church would meet in a community centre, Riverlands.
However we also had a strong emphasis on operating mission off-site. We didn’t want the building to dominate our sense of identity and vocation.
The church had a careful process of about 5 years to decide to relocate, and how to relocate (eg refurbish a building, build on a ‘greenfield’, etc).
The church employed two of our members, John Pitt (builder) and Tim Preece (bricklayer) to construct Riverlands. Others provided significant time covering some other trades. During the building program we had one or two evening working bees most weeks.
Two of our oldest members, Miss Gladys Long and Mrs Doris King, opened Riverlands by cutting the ribbon, and turning the key respectively. A large crowd was present.
The church opened the new building largely debt free (a $10,000 interest free loan from Tasmanian Baptists was outstanding but repaid quite quickly). All up, the new facility cost about $500,000.00.
Initially the church retained its former name ‘Longford Baptist Church’ and the building only became known as ‘Riverlands’. After 2004, the name ‘Riverlands’ became the name of the church as well.
On Sunday 7th March past and present members joined together in a joyful service to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Claremont Baptist Church.
How it all began . .
In 1964, the Rev Mathew Francis, pastor of Lenah Valley Church, urged the establishment of a work in the growing residential area of Abbotsfield and Chigwell. The work began with six people: John and Roslein Priddle; Emma Cox and her daughter Freda Steedman. They met in the home of Ralph and Helen Tye, as the Abbotsfield Baptist Fellowship. Roslein always said the church’s foundation was prayer, and their task was to step out in faith as God led.
The Home Missions Committee secured the services of Sister Heather Hunt, a trained deaconess of the Baptist Union of Great Britain to lead the team. She arrived in 1964 and stayed for five years.
In 1966 the Glenorchy Council, recognising the need for a church in the area, granted the Baptist Union a block of land on Cullen Street. The church used the property to build a manse. It served both as a residence for Sister Heather, and as a meeting place for Sunday School and Sunday services. At about the same time, two new schools opened in the area and soon every room, with the exception of Sister Heather’s bedroom, reached capacity on Sundays. The church then began their planning to build the current building.
The new building opened on the 6th March 1971, with a new name “Claremont Baptist Church“. 23 October 1977 saw the official inauguration of the Claremont Baptist Church with 18 foundation members.
It’s a caring church!
At the 50th Anniversary celebration, foundation members Murray and Heather Hall cut the celebration cake. Heather said, “I love this church. It’s a very caring church”.
I know that their strength . . .will see them continue for another 50 years
Mayor Kristie Johnson
Mayor of Glenorchy, Kristie Johnson, was present to unveil a plaque. Kristie is the daughter of former pastor David Knox. She spoke of her memories of being a child in the church., and was enthusiastic about the church’s future. “Claremont Baptist Church has been serving the Lord through Christian ministry for 50 years and I know that their strength through faith will see them continue for another 50 years.”
In this telling profile of Summerhill Baptist in the Feb/Mar 2021 ADVANCE | step by step , read an overview from the pastor, Maddy Svoboda. Then continue scrolling for a couple of highlights from members Roger and Jess Radford.
From the Pastor: Maddy Svoboda
Hello! My name is Matthew (Maddy) Svoboda and I am the pastor of Summerhill Baptist Church in Launceston. I’ve been married to Imogen for eight years and we have three children: Evie (5), Angus (2) and we have just welcomed Reuben into the tribe 2 months ago.
I grew up in Launceston (my grandparents lived around the corner from Summerhill Baptist for my whole life) and I was not a follower of Jesus until I was 18.
Summerhill Baptist and community impact
The Summerhill Baptist building sits on the Stanley Street roundabout in Summerhill, alongside a school and a medical centre. We have a mentoring partnership with the school. People from the church are trained up to walk with a student in need for an hour a week.
We’ve run family movie nights, sausage sizzles and community fun days for the school community. There is also a high school youth ministry that engages primarily with youth from Prospect High School.
At the end of last year, we partnered with Scripture Union to run a community outreach for the Hazara (ethnic and Muslim group from Afghanistan) people in our community and will continue those throughout 2021.
We’re also in the beginning of a partnership with the medical centre as they use our facilities for ‘flu vaccinations. We would like to see this develop in order to see holistic health throughout the community of Summerhill.
One of our big challenges is knowing how to navigate these new cultural waters with boldness and humility. Our society has experienced rapid discontinuous change. It can leave us wondering how we engage with our friends, family members, work colleagues and neighbours with the good news of Jesus.
Sometimes, there can be a tension between wanting our people to be involved in church community life. Plus, be invested in the relationships they naturally have with people not following Jesus. As well as taking care of themselves and their family. There are many priorities in our lives. so it can be a challenge to avoid overloading people. And at the same time, call them to service and mission.
What I see in the future
I am excited by what I see taking place at Summerhill.
We have a spread of ages and generations making up our congregation. My desire is to dive deeply into the call to be a family of God. With older generations and younger generations not merely existing in the same space, but flourishing together.
To that end, I want to see us do the following:
Leaning into the location and place God has given us, and to seek the peace and prosperity of our community.
Growing and developing even more into a community, offering open-hearted acceptance to those around us.
Bringing God’s kingdom to Summerhill.
Members’ Reflections – Summerhill Baptist
By Roger and Jess Radford
COVID-19 . . . all change!
A big highlight for Summerhill Baptist has been moving into our “New” hall. We built it a few years ago, but we’re still working through the process of using it for Sunday services.
After lockdown, our old hall no longer met our requirements as we could not all fit, under capacity requirements. With our gear in the old building, it meant we got back to basics, initially. We worked only with a small sound system, a worship leader and singer. It was very refreshing to strip worship back to a “minimum viable product” and slowly build as restrictions have lifted.
Our worship team up front has gradually grown over time. Adding members slowly gave us a chance to test and learn what works well for us in our new building.
Moving to the new building has allowed us to grow our Creche and Kidz Church program in our old building, dramatically improving the size and suitability of the area available to them.
COVID restrictions also challenged us on how we get together after a service. Our foyer is now much too small to congregate for a chat, so we recently had our second church picnic at Punchbowl reserve. As a “Bring your own everything” event, it was a simple way for us to all hang out after church without a lot of planning and administration required.
At the picnics–through conversation, food, footy, frisbee and vortex–we’ve much fun had!
Coming up, on Sunday 7th March, we will participate in Clean Up Australia Day by cleaning up one of our local parks after our service, and then having another picnic.
Colder weather will again challenge our newfound love of picnics, but we are looking forward to seeing what we will come up with next!
Mission Director Stephen Baxter reflects on the year ahead
Winners and Losers …
… Or Something More Profound?
As we are approaching 2021, the 24-hour daily news cycle reminds us we live in unsettling, even dangerous, times. But perhaps we can come with some love in our hearts?
By Mission Director Stephen Baxter
Although somewhat removed in Tasmania, technology connects us to the rest of the world. Recent events in the USA, the increasing bully-like antics of China, and a small virus that continues to bring the world to a standstill, are reminders of the unique moment we are living in.
The relative peace experienced in much of the Western World over the past 50 years or so makes it all feel somewhat “unprecedented”. Recent McCrindle research1 reveals only 10% of those over 75 feel any long-term negative effects on their mental health due of Covid-19.
Yet, among those aged between 18-40, more than half feel the affect has been harmful. McCrindle suggests those over 75 have lived through similar times, like WWII, and have a resilience not known in younger generations.
No wonder the younger ones are struggling more than the older generations.
Stories make sense of the world
Global interconnectedness, which many hoped would usher in a world of increasing peace and harmony, has delivered something like the opposite. The world is full of anxiety and fear, and social media has intensified the rage and polarisation. Now, as we begin 2021, we want to be hopeful, yet it looks like this year will contain as much disruption as 2020, and perhaps more!
In times such as these there are always different stories competing for the hearts and imaginations of humanity, endeavouring to make sense of our lives.
One such story, fuelled by fear and inadequacy, is a tale of “winners and losers”.
Driven by a sense of scarcity, life is a competition and many take sides. The world is divided into oppressors and the oppressed, aggressors and victims. When one believes the path to peace, security and happiness comes by “winning”, violence is an inevitable outcome.
Jesus’ radical contrasts
Sadly, the church is not exempt from the temptation. We too can retreat into an “us and them” mentality built on assumptions of scarcity, competition, and opposition.
Jesus told a different story. He did not view the world through the lens of scarcity, as we can do when approaching 2021, but of abundance. Instead of winning, he talked about serving, stewardship, generosity and sharing where everyone is a winner–for there is enough for all. God, he taught, is a good God full of grace and provision who causes the rain to fall, and the sun to shine, upon all people, both good and evil.
Jesus did not divide the world into winners and losers. His vision for humanity was based on acceptance, grace, and forgiveness. He called every person to love their neighbour as themselves, and even to love their enemies! Life is not a competition fuelled by scarcity, but cooperative empowered by abundance.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
The result over the ensuing centuries was a slow, gentle revolution. As people believed in Jesus and lived by his teachings, the poor were healed and empowered, and society became more like the one Jesus envisaged. Life was not a competition, and people no longer lived as victims. As co-heirs with Christ, and willing agents in the spread of the Gospel, the world changed for the better.
Love in our hearts and grace on our lips
Society was transformed not through their compliant submission to those who “lorded it over them”, nor through violent revolution and revenge, but by their nonviolent resistance to scarcity, and “winning” through a life of service and self-giving, that transformed the world.
Let’s be Jesus’ agents. This is what our troubled and unsettled world of 2021 needs. Jesus still calls us to be agents of transformation and positive change in the world. His metaphors of salt, light, and yeast help us appreciate who we are called to be. We are those who do not believe life is a competition. We are those who do not withdraw from the world but are active agents within it.
As well, we are not activists, but respectful, welcoming, loving, patient neighbours to everyone, including our enemies and call them to come believe in and follow Jesus. We don’t set out to win but to bless. We set out with love in our hearts, and grace on our lips.
As we are approaching 2021, may the Spirit empower us all to be witnesses for Jesus in Tasmania.
New upgrades make all the difference to community engagement
Wynyard Baptist Pastor, Owen Muskett, often considers how to enable Wynyard Baptist church to engage the local community.
Men’s Shed? No worries!
Carols with the Waratah-Wynyard council? Great!
Funeral services for local personalities? What an opportunity!
Local connection is wonderful, but at the same time, Owen felt their building was letting them down. The foyer area was cramped and uninviting, and the toilets were due for an upgrade.
Late in 2019, Owen explained his vision for a more accessible and inviting building entrance. Meeting with the church leadership, he suggested a few changes to the space occupied by the foyer, crying room, church library, and cleaners’ storage, as well as upgrading the out-of-date toilets.
His idea was to create a large and welcoming foyer area with purpose-built café and kitchen. He suggested building new toilets as a small extension to the main building and relocating the library to the back wall of the existing auditorium. As well, a window could be altered to become the main entrance, including a large awning for protected driveway drop-offs.
But the main reason for the change, Owen reasoned, was the potential for greater community engagement.
Funding the Wynyard Baptist Facility Upgrade
Soon after Owen explained the vision to the membership, someone (who remains anonymous) dropped by with an envelope. This person told Owen they “saw the vision and wanted to help”!
Asking Owen not to open the letter for at least 10 minutes, they quietly left. Shrouded in mystery Owen agreed, and 10 minutes later, discovered a cheque for $100,000.
Well now there was no stopping them!
From plans to action
The church leaders began to make their plans with the blessing of the membership, and by early 2020 it was clear the work would go ahead at some stage during the year. With the church unable to meet from the middle of March when the COVID-19 lockdown began, it was the perfect time to begin the demolition and building works.
To make best use of the money, the church decided to both build, and project manage, the demolition and construction using as much volunteer labour as possible. As a result, many of the retired men of the church pulled together, working about 5 hours/day for several weeks.
In a few short months, the new foyer area with entrance, the café and brand-new toilets were available for use. The café boasts a state-of-the-art espresso machine, and cups of coffee purchased before and after services contribute to Wynyard’s missions work overseas.
As well, visitors to the church are greeted with a much more friendly space, and the good people of Wynyard Baptist are excited to welcome many people from outside their fellowship in the years ahead.
In Owen’s excitement he keeps coming back to the generous anonymous donation, which at time of writing, is still being spent on the Wynyard Baptist facility upgrade.
Penny Clark was recently appointed to the ministry team at LifeWay Baptist in Devonportas Emerging Generations Pastor.
Who is she and where does she come from? Read on!
Where were you born and what was it like growing up there?
I grew up in St. Marys which is in between Fingal and St. Helens on the East Coast. Growing up there was very open-ended. I was quite sheltered from mainstream culture and my parents are both artists, so they made a world for us, which involved lots of nature, free play and traditions. It was quite isolating, but we definitely felt like we belonged in a tight-knit community. It taught me to view the world differently. My parents were both quite poor, but it never bothered me. I feel like this has taught me to be generous where we can as a family, and hold possessions loosely.
When and why did you move to the northwest?
My husband Adam and I moved to Ulverstone in 2001 when we both applied for teaching positions. We met in Launceston but knew we wanted a quieter lifestyle. We were blessed to be working at the same Christian school, me as an art teacher and Adam as a 5/6 teacher. I have been incredibly blessed.
What do you enjoy most about living in Ulverstone?
The beach and bush. We are constantly in awe of this incredible landscape, and for me the sea is my equilibrium. I love raising our kids by the ocean, and that their memories will be tied into the beach. I also love our community. Ulverstone is such a welcoming place, and it has everything we need without crowds.
How did you become a Christian?
I grew up in a Christian home that encouraged debate and questioning. As a young child, I always felt drawn to know God, and felt a strong sense of awe and wonder in my Catholic parish. I made a commitment as a 12-year-old at a Youth Alive camp, and again at 21 when Adam and I were baptised. I have always analysed church (we have been to a few in our marriage), and I love that my perspectives are listened to and considered.
Growing up in a small Catholic church we had a priest for a long time, but by the time I was 10 or 11 we had a Sister run our parish for many years. This has definitely impacted my view of women in the church and I am indebted to her. I also attended Spiritual Direction since I was 16, which I can see now is pretty unique!
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
I pick up so much advice and store it all away for different seasons! This week I was so impacted by a friend’s advice of “make your own boundaries and stick to them–because no one else will do it for you”. This idea had never actually occurred to me, I always sort assumed people would only ask me certain things without stretching me, but experience has taught me that everyone has different boundaries and ideas of ‘what is OK’. With young kids, I especially need to be careful of my commitments.
When people ask you how you spend your time, what do you say?
Ha ha! So many things! I’m a mama to Archie and Laila so I spend a portion of my time cooking, cleaning, packing lunches (which is the worst!) Adam helps me a lot with this too. I also spend time exercising, reading and being with people. I love being around others, especially talking about deeper issues and listening to suffering. Archie joined our family as a biological child, and Laila through foster care. Fostering our Lai has been one of the most rewarding and impactful things I’ve ever done. It has also been, and continues to be, the most stretching and difficult. I am incredibly passionate about the burden and blessing of fostering. I also work for a not-for-profit organisation in community outreach and mentoring.
What is your role in the Baptist Church?
I’m still in awe about my role, and I’m blessed beyond words. I am “Penny Clark, Emerging Generations Associate Pastor”. When I am at work I get to play with kids, relate to them, pray with and for them, and walk alongside them. Personally, I had a few very key people in my faith journey, and they all dropped-in during my childhood. I am so honoured that I get to be that person for some precious children. Hopefully, I will also reach out to Mamas as they carry such a heavy load. I carry it too, and I think I have picked up some ideas and experience that might help others.
What excites you most about what you do?
I think in a nutshell, bringing God’s peace and healing to others and helping to make our church an inclusive and exciting space for children. I am hoping to start a small ‘art group’ for younger girls, as well some retreat-style days for older teens. As well as facilitate the LifeWay Kids Ministry with my awesome volunteers.
What challenges do you have as you do this work?
At this stage, it’s organisation and juggling. I am a creative at heart, and I find it really hard to stay disciplined and organised. My wonderful husband Adam has taught and coached me a LOT with this and I know there’s no way I could juggle all I am doing without his unwavering support. I plan to set some structure around my time so I can work efficiently.
So Penny Clark, How can we pray for you and your work?
Pray for balance, connections and opportunities to rest at the end of the year. 2020 has been a huge year for so many, and our family has had a big year of transition and change.
Short and Sweet – Penny Clark
I am looking forward to … 2021 and meeting new families, as well as investing in the beautiful ones in front of me
I am worried about … Gosh, nothing really! Having too much fun at work?
I am confident that … God has placed me on this path for a reason, despite the pain I might have been through to get here.
I am joyful about … At the moment, it’s our pending summer. When it finally arrives!
I would like to change … society’s view of children. There would be so many less-wounded adults.
I am at my best when … I am with people, doing something creative.
The Latrobe Men’s Shed is a community project of the Latrobe Baptist Church. The basic premise of the shed is to provide an informal place, where men can spend a couple of hours meeting new friends whilst engaging in manual activity or for simply just to chat over cuppa.
2013, saw the erection of a new shed. The demolition of the old shed, and subsequent rebuild, took 1163 manhours, much of the time given voluntarily.
The nuts and bolts of the Latrobe Men’s Shed
The men meet at the shed on Fridays from 9am to 1pm, with a tool-box meeting at 10am and a barbecue at noon. Members are encouraged to spend one third of their time on charity and community projects, one third of their time on Shed maintenance and one third of their time on their own projects.
Participants can at all times find someone to have a talk to, including the Pastor of the Latrobe Church, the Rev. Ralph Terry who is always in attendance.
The Shed takes in projects from the local community. The first project was the refurbishment of Kinder furniture for the Sassafras Primary School.
Apart from getting to know each other, the men learn how to use equipment and how to make useful items. To facilitate this there are, at times, skilled tradesmen in attendance who teach skills such as wood turning. Pursuits include general woodwork, mechanical repairs, jewellery, and antique restorations.
For all creatures, great and small
In all, the Latrobe Men’s Shed has completed 360 projects including the already mentioned Primary School furnishings, small cars for Operation Christmas Child, widow’s gardens, 30 Billy-carts, garden seats, gymnasium boxes, bird feeders, wood turning projects, two kitchen renovations, letter boxes, a pig pen and rabbit hutches.
A committee of five runs the shed, and 57 men have joined since its beginning. There are those who have taken on the tasks of Property Officers, Auditor of the financial records, and general helpers.
Naturally, the work came to an abrupt end earlier this year with the onset of the Corona virus, but it reopened again on 20 June, after a three-month break.
Let’s remember to pray for Rev. Ralph Terry, and others at Latrobe Baptist, as they provide friendship, support and encouragement for men in their community using the Latrobe Men’s Shed.
Laurie Rowston Tas Baptists’ Historian and occasional writer