2020 Annual Assembly
key event report:
Tasmanian Baptists Gather to be Challenged and Inspired
By Graeme Goninon
"You can hopefully tell that I thought Assembly was one of the best we've had." Graeme Goninon via email
There was an obvious sense of excitement and anticipation (and freedom) as pastors, leaders and delegates gathered at Riverlands for the Annual Assembly. It was so great to see everyone again and worship together in prayer, in song, and in communion, and to sit under some challenging teaching from Stephen. Our 2020 theme 'Emmanuel - God with us' came through again and again as we looked at some of the key values of Baptists.
Friday night discussion
Over a lovely meal on Friday night, we had some teaching, discussion and prayer around the value of Jesus being the centrepiece of our ministry. This thinking 'dove-tailed' with some group reflection on 'the year that was'.
We were reminded that, here in Tassie, we've ridden the Covid-19 bump fairly well and that we live in exciting times, knowing that Jesus is alive, and that the work of Tasmanian Baptists is in good hands, with innovative ways of sharing the good news of Jesus.
Saturday - exploration
The sessions on Saturday were again focused on Jesus coupled with 'mission', another of our Baptist values. We looked at the mission field on our door-step - Tasmania - causing us to see that we need to think seriously about the way we 'do' church. We were reminded that church is meant to be a place of love, acceptance and forgiveness, keeping Jesus at the centre.
In conjunction with that, a couple of great challenges were presented. Mary Dickins of Fostering Hope explained the impact foster care can have on our state. And Jenna Blackwell explored the idea of 'Engaging Young People.' Mary and Jenna then led elective workshops on those topics, as well as Jeff McKinnon on 'Social Justice and the Church'; and Michael Henderson on 'An Arts-driven Mission'.
The business end of the day
We also elected the following people to state council: John Bignall (South), Louis Fife (North West), and Wendy Marston and Paul Dare (North) with Jeff McKinnon (Advisory - North). (Photos of Council >>>)
There was also a lovely moment when Assembly expressed its appreciation to David and Joy Roffe for years of service to Tasmanian Baptists, including Pastoral leadership, Pastoral Committee, and MLT.
Some great stories
As Assembly concluded, we heard some exciting stories about what some of our people are doing.
Paul Rai, of the Nepalese Church at Citywide, explained how 1000's of people back in Nepal have tuned into their online services. Jeff McKinnon gave an overview of how City Church are positively impacting the Extinction Rebellion cause. And our Multicultural Coordinator, Joel Ortiz, had exciting news of his involvement with the Multicultural Council of Tasmania, and his nomination as President of the Philippine Australia Community of Tasmania.
Pictured: Ps Paul Rai with Stephen Baxter
We are a Fountain of Hope
'Hope' was a prominent word throughout the two days, with phrases such as 'hope is something the world needs to hear'. It reminded me of my favourite verse:
"May God, the inspiration and fountain of HOPE, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with HOPE." Romans 15:13 (TPT)
The general consensus seemed to be that, while we acknowledge that some of our churches are struggling, there is good reason to be optimistic as we explore ways of being the hands and feet of Jesus in a needy society.
Graeme Goninon is now retired from active ministry, but serves to support pastors in the northwest of Tasmania.