Tas Baptists May Assembly
Bringing Heaven to Earth
By Stephen Avery
Entering the Baptist Assembly for the first time I had no expectation. I had heard it was full of politics and arguments, but it's different now. How different wasn't clear.
Booking in was easy, just a phone call to friendly staff. My wife, Tracey, is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, egg free and peanut free but that didn't seem to faze them. We booked for the dinner, why not, and the Saturday session.
Friday night came. Tracey and I drove out to Riverlands Church to find a smaller gathering of people than I expected for the opening of Assembly. Later, I realised people were coming from all over the state, so finding accommodation, or the cost of it, was a thing to consider.
That said, the dinner was amazing, and the caterers had all Tracey's food exceptions catered for. (Thanks heaps if you are reading this.)
Jeff McKinnon gave the opening speech, which as always was straight from the heart, full of vision and hope (I'm biased!) Although we were not known by most, Tracey and I felt we belonged.
Pictured: The people gathered on Saturday.
Saturday Assembly also felt welcoming. We got to talk face-to-face with others we had only spoken to on the phone or emailed, and Tracey caught up with brothers and sisters she hadn't seen forever.
The formal aspect of Assembly that morning was short and to the point.
Then there was a section of grand vision, which had something to do with community, worship and mission being required for us to be God's church, and Reengage | Reimagine | Realign. These are elements which I'm sure will be fleshed out in the coming year.
What really stood out were the individual stories of what's already taking place. A number from different churches shared their journey of listening to God and change.
These stories were of hope that we can listen, God does speak, and He hasn't left us to remain the same. That when we set our focus as a community on Him, he is faithful. He maybe not as quick to respond as we would like (no real fleece moments), but he gives gradual guidance, enough for each step of the way, without over-loading us with heaps of detail.
Other highlights were hearing how Michael Henderson and Jenna Blackwell would love to support church members in reaching their full potential of what God would like to do in their neighbourhood.
Overall, our first Baptist Assembly was interesting, a great way for us to meet new brothers and sisters and catch up with others, and find out how God is slowly bringing heaven to earth.
Stephen and Tracey Avery attend City Baptist Church, Launceston