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.