Converge 2023

Comnverge 23 - Anthea Maymard reports on the annual event where leaders from Baptist churches in Australia visit Canberra to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. This year's focus was the Myanmar crisis.

Advocating for Others

Baptist Leaders, Converge23

By Anthea Maynard, City Baptist Launceston

Converge is an annual gathering of Australian Baptist representatives in Canberra to advocate on issues close to the heart of our movement and the represent the 1000+ churches nationally.

This year, nearly 40 Australian Baptists from across Australia gathered for two days of lobbying and advocacy. Nicholas Alexander (Lifeway Devonport), Stephen Baxter (Mission Director & Hobart Baptist pastor) and I, Anthea Maynard (Team leader Launceston City Baptist) attended as delegates through the support and generosity of Tas Baptists.

Key Objective

The key objective was to elevate the ongoing and protracted crisis in Myanmar as a priority. We were asking for action from our elected representatives. Groups of four delegates from different locations met with members of parliament to introduce the situation. They then presented three asks and shared a personal story by a person from Myanmar.  With more than 20,000 Baptists from Myanmar in Australia, this is an important opportunity to support them. As well, we advocated as part of a wider, ecumenical effort (with the Catholic and Uniting Churches).  

Our campaign “We Must Not Forget About Myanmar” has postcards outlining the three asks to Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs. These postcards will be available through Baptist World Aid and Australian Baptist Ministries (see below). We hope that 20,000 printed postcards will end up on the desk of the Foreign Minister.

With different humanitarian crises happening around the world, the emergency for the people of Myanmar has fallen off the radar of the international community.  This is our opportunity to make a difference. The United Nations Humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths recently said, ‘successive crises in Myanmar have left one third of the population in need of humanitarian aid’.

Justice beyond ourselves

This was my first experience of Converge. It was a unique opportunity to work alongside Australian Baptist representatives from diverse roles and locations to highlight the needs and recent experiences of the people of Myanmar.  It is my prayer awareness and support will grow, along with members of parliament noticing Christians advocating for issues justice beyond ourselves.

Anthea Maynard with Converge delegates and an MP
Anthea’s Lobby Group: Melissa Rule (BUV Head of comms), Biak Nei Xing (Coffs Harbour), Rev. Daniel Bullock (BUV Director of Mission and Ministries), Anthea, Sui Sangte Chung (Perth WA).

In my group, there were two delegates from the Myanmar Baptist community. Sui, from Perth WA, has recently graduated from nursing. She arrived in Australia as a refugee with her mother at the age of eight. Sui shared of her recent trip to some refugee camps on the Indian border. Sui encountered stories from elderly ladies who had fled their villages due to airstrikes. This year, airstrikes have increased dramatically in Myanmar to a current total of 289. Stronger, focused sanctions are needed to limit the capacity of the Junta to trade.

Biak was the other delegate, from Coffs Harbour NSW. She shared how her mother’s and father’s villages were burned to the ground in September this year. This was very distressing for her and her extended family.

The overall response by parliamentary representatives was engaging and positive. The Myanmar delegates were encouraged, and grateful to raise their voice with other Australian Baptists.

What to do next

Myanmar crisis

RAISE AWARENESS AT YOUR CHURCH Images and resources, available HERE
PRAY FOR MYANMAR Myanmar Prayer Sheet (450KB)
ADVOCATE FOR MYANMAR Email politicians; Order postcards INFO HERE >

Anthea Maynard

Anthea Maynard is the pastor at City Baptist, Launceston

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Converge 2023

Annual Assembly 2022

Annual Assembly 2022, Tasmanian Baptists gather.

ABOVE Clockwise from top left: Sherry and Geoff Manning (BMA); Assembly attendees, Saturday; Friday dinner; Stephen Baxter prays for newly registered pastor Ben Cochrane (Somerset); Saturday lunch; Friday night.

Tasmanian Baptists

Reflection on Assembly

FRI/SAT, 28th and 29th October 2022

By Anthea Maynard

Assembly was a humbling, inspiring and encouraging experience, as diverse representatives from across lutruwita (Tasmania) gathered to share food, stories, reflections, prayers, songs and questions together.

We had a range of presenters including Mission Director Stephen Baxter, Sherry and Geoff Maddock (Baptist Mission Australia), our historian Laurie Rowston, and Paul Manning (Baptist World Aid). Plus, a well-organised business session, led by Peter Clark on Saturday afternoon.

Friday night sessions

Sherry and Geoff Maddock, Baptist Mission Australia, Oct Assembly 2022
Sherry and Geoff Maddock

Sherry and Geoff Maddock spoke on “God’s placed love”, with examples from their lives as a family on mission. This resonated with me as I am deeply affected by place – geography, ecology, faith, history, culture, food and stories.

Sherry also shared about her vocation of tending and keeping, cultivating and flourishing, which is embodied in her work as a gardener. I love the idea of creating spaces of hospitality for people to encounter one another and God, especially in living landscapes.

Mission Director Stephen Baxter, Oct Assembly 2022
Stephen Baxter

Our Mission Director, Stephen Baxter, gave a “State of the Union” address, outlining a current picture of the Baptists in the Tasmanian community.

He also summarised a consultancy report about Tasmanian Baptist churches by Andrew Turner of Crossover called “Ready to Really Move”. It highlights the need to transition from ideas of deconstruction to construction; closed to open faith communities; and theoretical to tangible faith-life engagement. 

God’s Mission – Missio Dei

Laurie Rowston, Tas Baptists historian, Oct Assembly 2022
Laurie Rowston

On Saturday morning, Laurie Rowston spoke passionately about the history of Baptists in Tasmania. He has now completed comprehensive research and published eight associated books. This work is a gift to Baptists in Tasmania, with the hope to see people come to know Jesus. 

Geoff Maddock spoke again, this time about world Christianity and how the church joins into God’s bigger mission (Missio Dei) that goes beyond borders and boundaries.

He said we are invited to have an attitude of curiosity, offer hospitality, and open our lives to others. Smaller groups then identified and discussed what the major issues were in our world and society. We also discussed how our missiology, ecumenism and interfaith relations influence our response.

Geoff reminded us that there are no God-forsaken places or people. 

Resourcing churches

Paul Manning Baptist World Aid, Oct Assembly 2022
Paul Manning

Paul Manning shared about Baptist World Aid’s work of supporting communities to face challenges associated with poverty.

There is an opportunity to identify and challenge unjust systems within our society and beyond, as Jesus said he came to give life in fullness. The updated Ethical Fashion Guide has just been released and opens our eyes to the slavery and ecological destruction that our consumer actions have.

There are a diverse range of ways to connect and be involved in this impressive work. This includes becoming a Better World ambassador; the Better World gift catalogue and the 2022 Christmas Appeal, to name just a few. 

Summing up

The polity and relationships of the Baptist movement are refreshing, enabling and Spirit led. I found that attending the Tasmanian Baptist Annual Assembly this year was a privilege.

Anthea Maynard

Anthea Maynard
Ministry Team Leader
City Baptist Church, Launceston

Find out about Better World Church resources >

Watch the Better World Ambassador Video!

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October/November 2022

CHRISTMAS RESOURCES For Baptists from Crossover
AROUND THE CHURCHES October/November 2022
FAMINE In the Horn of Africa Melissa Lipsett, CEO Baptist World Aid
PRISON MINISTRY By Cameron Brett of Prison Fellowship Tasmania
DEEP THOUGHT The Sound of Silence By Denise Stephenson
FROM THE MISSION DIRECTOR: Does God Really Care? By Stephen Baxter
SCHOOLS MINISTRY: Mustard Lives Transformed by Jesus
CHURCH PROFILE: Newstead Baptist
October 2022 NEWS | November 2022 NEWS

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Annual Assembly 2022

ADVANCE | step by step – Sept/Oct 2021

Advance September/October 2021
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September/October 2021 No. 1

Released 9th September 2021

Advance SeptOct 2021 No. 1
  • Brave New World Reading the signs of the times – Stephen Baxter
  • Church Profile City Baptist Launceston
  • Engaging with your Community – Michael Henderson
  • Need to Know EmpowHer Walk | Stand Sunday | Calling All Artists | BWA Ethical Fashion Report

September/October 2021 No. 2

Released 23rd September 2021

Advance step by step Sept Oct 2021 No. 2
  • Anthea Maynard Q&A Interview
  • Baptist World Day of Prayer for Women
  • Pastors and Leaders Muster – Report
  • NEED TO KNOW Book Review | Covid Vaccinations | Operation Christmas Child – How to pack a box

September/October 2021 No. 3

Released 7th October 2021

Advance SeptOct 21-3
  • Food for Thought Bob Goolsby (George Town) considers Our Divine Purpose
  • Global Disaster Zones Haiti | Myanmar | Afghanistan
  • Crossover Australia latest update
  • NEED TO KNOW Prof. Patrick Parkinson at Assembly | Tasmania Celebration Launch | Christian Book of the Year

September/October 2021 No. 4

Released 21st October 2021

Advance SeptOct-21-4