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.
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 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.
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
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 (MissioDei) 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.
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.
On the weekend of 6-7 May, I attended a Tasmanian Baptist Assembly for the first time.
I must confess to not being a big fan of conferences, and my expectations of Assembly were not high. However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by how much I took away from the experience.
Tasmania is a highly regional state and there are very few opportunities for pastors and leaders from the different regions to come together as one collective group. Assembly provides this opportunity.
Midyear Assembly 2022 – slideshow
Friday Night – Three Chats
So Assembly was great, but also challenging. On Friday night at dinner, we heard three short talks: Scott Pilgrim, about Baptist Mission Australia; Paul Manning of Baptist World Aid; and Jenny Baxter of Tasmanian Baptist Women – EmpowHer. She spoke about the changing nature of women’s ministry in the 21st Century. This includes the ongoing effort to raise up and recognise women in leadership across Baptist churches.
Myself, and I’m sure many others, took to heart the challenge for us to do better in this space.
On Saturday morning, we heard about some of the exciting community partnerships that Baptists in Wynyard have built. As well, we watched a video from Citywide. It told the story of their ongoing partnership with the Lenah Valley RSL in putting on a special day for the Lenah Valley community on Anzac Day.
We heard from and formally recognised myself and three others as Pastoral Leaders.
It’s great to hear these stories, as they are both inspiring and challenging to the rest of us to find ways to support and ally with other churches doing valuable community engagement. It also shows us the kinds of things that are possible if we do the work and build the relationships.
It was very exciting to hear from Maddy Svoboda about how much things have changed during his time working pastorally across Tasmania. During the morning session, we heard from and formally recognised myself and three others as Pastoral Leaders. This was really exciting and humbling.
One significant moment during Assembly was the vote agreeing to the inclusion of Hobart Vision Church within our Union of churches. Pastor Samuel was present to represent the Korean-speaking church, which meets on Sunday afternoons at the Hobart Baptist building.
Stephen Baxter, TB Mission Director
On Saturday afternoon, we heard more from both Baptist Mission Australia and Baptist World Aid. I found it important to get these updates, as it helps us to not just be completely fixated on our local context, but to see and think globally about the ways in which God is working right across the world.
The opportunity to build networks which are not just regional, but state-wide, is a something very valuable. Our Mission Director, Stephen Baxter, and the entire Tasmanian Baptist were named and applauded during the day on Saturday. The team has done a tremendous amount of work particularly over the past two years – during a pandemic – to keep the networks and lines of communication for Baptist churches and leaders in Tasmania working, and healthy. It was good and right that their work was recognised and commended at Assembly.
The Midyear Assembly 2022 was a valuable experience, certainly a more important experience than I expected to have. I’m glad I went along, and I will look forward to the next one.
Matt Henderson is the Associate Pastor at Hobart Baptist Church. He is married to Kylie, and they have three boys, one daughter-in-law and a baby granddaughter!
Led by Denise Stephenson (LifeWay) and Jenny Baxter (Hobart), this retreat will focus on sheltering in God’s presence.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
If you are weary and burdened with life, and need some time to enter God’s presence to reflect, restore and rest, then come along!
INFO: The retreat is non-residential, and will be held in Blackmans Bay. COST: $45/person NB. There are other ways you can contribute if money is an issue – so get onto us! ARE YOU IN? Call or SMS to reserve your spot, and we will send you more info: 0401 652 566 BROCHUREDownload here
Ministry Training at WEC
Cert IV Christian Ministry and Theology
Eastern College Australia are offering accredited units at its delivery site in Launceston. Worldview Centre host evening classes where you can complete units towards a Certificate IV in Christian Ministry and Theology.
The Tuesday evenings include catered meal breaks.
Unit Costs $300/unit
Where Worldview Centre for Intercultural Studies, 41 Station Road, St Leonards, TAS 7250
5pm-8:30pm 14 June-30 August (10 weeks): Christian Ethics 5pm-8:30pm 13 September-29 November (10 weeks): Discipleship
Since 1950, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has held Crusades across the globe to proclaim God’s love to people who need Jesus Christ. Today, Will Graham Celebrations continue this life-changing mission.
A Celebration is not just an evangelistic event; it is a process of prayer, training, outreach, and follow-up that takes place over a 12-month period—and it begins and ends with the local church.
Perth Baptist is running a bus to attend the 29th May event at the Silverdome. For more info, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0418 130 221.
Advocating for the Most Vulnerable
Micah Australia is a coalition of Christian aid agencies who lobby the government on behalf of the world’s poor, vulnerable and oppressed. Micah Australia’s Executive Director, Tim Costello, is one of Australia’s best-known community leaders and a sought after voice on social justice issues, leadership and ethics.
The 2022 federal government Budget, released on 31st March, revealed some major wins. This included the announcement that the government will increase the intake of Afghan refugees.
Watch the video from National Director, Matt Darvas, to find out more:
There were also some incredible outcomes for Micah’s End Covid For All campaign. This is the direct result of months of campaigning for Australia’s neighbours in crisis.
Through Micah’s latest campaign, A Safer World For All, the momentum will be sustained in the lead-up to the federal election. It’s an unmissable opportunity to call on Canberra to support our neighbours in crisis.
Since the formation of the Asia Pacific Baptists Federation in 1975, and the first historic gathering of Baptists in 1979 in Hyderabad, India, the APBF Congress has met regularly every five years. As a result they have touched thousands of Baptists through the Congress.
APBF has witnessed the faithfulness of God in Asia and the Pacific over the period of 40 years as the Baptists of Asia and the Pacific has grown to almost 40,000 churches today.
The 10th APBF Congress again calls Baptists to gather with the theme “Stronger Together” in its first Hybrid Congress (available to both in-person and online attendees). Attendees will witness yet again God’s faithfulness. In-person will allow you to interact face-to-face with the speakers, while online will provide a seamless flexibility to join the Congress from your location.
STOP PRESS! Due to an overwhelming response, all registrations for in-person attendance have now closed.
Here’s some exciting news: if you stop by the Baptist World Aid website, you’ll find a new look and a new visual identity. The look might be new, but they are still committed to ending poverty so all people can enjoy the fullness of life God intends.
(Even now, BWA’s Ukraine appeal is helping Christian Partners care for displaced families.)
BWA will also print a new quarterly 16-page magazine for supporters, Better World Magazine, which will hit mail boxes in the next few weeks and includes news updates, inspiring features and even a column on ‘Curly Questions’.
A heads-up that our next Tasmanian Baptist Assembly will take place at Riverlands Longford on Friday night 6th May, and Saturday 7th May.
As always, Assembly will be an inspiring time of challenge, encouragement and connection.
On Saturday, Scott Pilgrim of Exec. Director of BMA will speak. “Business” is kept to a minimum, and the focus will be our theme for 2022: (en)Courage.
If you are not a regular attendee and would like to attend you are very welcome. It is important to note, however, that only official church representatives have voting rights.
Church Secretaries watch out! Information for Assembly, will soon come your way to distribute to delegates.
Crossover Easter 2022
History has shown that nothing transforms lives, communities, the world, like people coming to know Jesus. Sharing Jesus is so vital, what if we had more confidence, more wisdom, suitable methods and more really useful resources. Crossover passionately focusses on helping Australian Baptists share Jesus.
On Friday night at the Annual Assembly 2021, we gathered with other Tasmanian Baptist church representatives. It was a time of sharing what has been happening in our different fellowship communities.
The Mission Director, Stephen Baxter, reflected on the year past which demanded so many adjustments associated with the impact of the pandemic. But also, more broadly in the context of our changing society. He considered how this relates to being the body of Christ – His church – and how this looks very different from past years.
Our guest speaker, Professor Patrick Parkinson, explained many enlightening statistics. These included how changing family structures, and the decline of marriages over recent decades, has led to increasing challenges for children, parents, and our communities. This provides so many opportunities for Christians to reach out and care in relevant ways.
On Saturday we explored further the “Reengage, Reimagine, Realign” vision for Tasmanian Baptists. We also participated in a very short business session.
Denise Stephenson (LifeWay, Lymington) spoke of her experience of growing up deeply within the Tasmanian Baptist church community. Finding herself dis-engaging in her teens, she later returned to the Baptist church network in a new ministry capacity.
This has led to her reaching out to people in day-to-day interactions within her local neighbourhood. Now, she seeks God’s guidance for next steps with fellowship at the “long table” she and husband Mark have installed in their new home.
Maddy Svoboda shared about the journey Summerhill Baptist has been on as it seeks to value the transition period.
He spoke of the “liminal spaces” where we step across into the “not yet known” – where God is at work. And of trusting God with the unknowns which are known by our Sovereign God.
After Lunch Electives
After lunch, we chose electives. I appreciated participating in Jenna Blackwell’s workshop, which provided personal reflection time on the 3-R’s. In addition, Michael Henderson led a group reflecting on how churches can reengage, reimagine and realign. And a third group looked at the future implications of Covid for our churches in light of new vaccination policies.
In the workshop, Jenna posed a series of questions prompting us to Reengage as we described in our own words God’s Big Story, the Good News. Then exploring our own response, considering our strengths and passion, significant life experiences.
Questions prompted us toReengage as we described in our own words God’s Big Story, the Good News
We then moved to Reimagine what God might be saying to us in how our own lives are being lived. And then, to Realign by considering what may need to change in our lives to Reengage full circle with God in the now!
At home, I’ve been sorting and “culling” all manner of stuff to make room for our daughter and her family. They are moving from interstate and will be living with us. This exercise reminded me to “let go” and to “make space”, so God can do his transforming work of Renewal!
That renewal is what God does in our lives. It is what we can see happening in many of our Tasmanian Baptist churches. I was so encouraged by our Annual Assembly 2021.
Kate Barnett Newstead Baptist Church
READ MORE IN THE NOV/DEC 2021 ADVANCE | STEP BY STEP
NEWS: Need to Know Global Interaction name change | Safer Spaces Toolkit | Christmas poetry | Big Hearted Gifts | Tas Celebration Launch | Converge 2021 | Book Review | Faith and the Arts | BWA Ethical Fashion Guide 2021
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.
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.