Around the Churches April – May 2024

Around the churches

Northwest

Deloraine Baptist

Passover at Deloraine 
Monday, 22 April was the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, the biblical date for Passover. Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples at the meal we call ‘the Last Supper’ (Luke 22:15). Although Holy Communion (aka the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist) is a very ancient and appropriate Christian tradition, it was within the context of the Passover meal that Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”  

Accordingly, twenty-three Christians enjoyed a traditional Passover meal at Deloraine Baptist Church on the evening of 22 April. The meal included roasted year-old ram lambs and all the traditional trimmings.  

From a Jewish perspective, the Passover commemorates their redemption from bondage to Pharaoh through the shed blood of the lamb without blemish. As Christians, we also see its further application to our own redemption from slavery to sin through the shed blood of our perfect and sinless Messiah (1 Corinthians 5:7b). 

Passover at Deloraine 

Although (for now) the Jewish people remain blinded to its significance, the traditional Passover meal is replete with Christian symbolism. For instance, three matzot (unleavened bread) are placed in a special ‘three-in-one’ bag. During the meal, the middle matzah is broken (“this my body”), wrapped in linen and hidden away. It is later ‘discovered’ – a prophetic picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  

Four cups of wine are traditionally consumed, representing the four promises God made to Israel in Exodus 6:6-8. They are the Cups of Sanctification, Deliverance, Redemption and Restoration. The third cup is not drunk until after the meal. It was this one (Luke 22:20) that the Lord referred to as “his blood.” However, Jesus deferred drinking the final Passover cup until his return (Matthew 26:29). In fact, our Lord is currently teetotal while he serves as our great High Priest in the Heavenly Temple (e.g. Hebrews 9:11 cp. Leviticus 8:8-9). 

The event lasted two-and-a half hours and was enjoyed by all participants. Many agreed that it was a more meaningful commemoration of the Master’s death than the traditional hot cross buns and chocolate eggs.  


Lifeway Devonport 

Social activities 
The vibrant Lifeway worship community is busy throughout the week, with Monday Tribes for kids after school, Converge for young adults on Tuesday evening, Men’s Coffee and Cheese Wednesday afternoon, Seniors’ Bible Study Thursday morning, Prayer Group Thursday evening and Fellowship Group on Saturday. There are also Pulse small groups, which meet regularly to support and pray for each other.  

Visiting Chaplain 
On Sunday 28 April the Chaplain of the Adelaide Crows Football Club spoke at the morning service and gifted a guernsey to Pastor Nicholas and longtime supporter of the crows Bill Magor.  

May Mission Month 
During May Mission month the dedicated Mission Team have worked hard to form study groups for most days of the week, set up a wonderful interactive display in the auditorium and, after worship Sunday morning in the Café, provided a guest to speak in the Human Library about a chapter in their lives connected to mission.  

Deaths 
Recently, Alec Small from the Karingal Community and Trevor Levett passed away.  


Sheffield Baptist Church

Membership Increase 
We are pleased to say that our doors are open each Sunday to witness and share the gospel with locals and visitors alike. In February we welcomed two new members which was a real encouragement.  

To us long term attendees, we are thankful for speakers from different churches making themselves available to preach each Sunday, it is a special blessing. Our fellowship teas continue to be well supported on the third Sunday of the month at 5:30 pm followed by singing of hymns and favourites for approximately an hour.  

Sheffield Baptist Church Photo: Duncan Grant
Sheffield Baptist Church

Ulverstone Baptist Church

Social activities 
UBC Seniors continue to meet on the first Friday of the month for fellowship and morning tea. The have enjoyed guest speakers, Ian Pickford with a display of various flags; Josh Skeat from the Ulverstone Anglican Church, as well as Valma and Yasmin McPherson (mother and daughter) who spoke in a morning themed “Remembering Mothers”. 

Our recent Men’s events have included riding bikes to the Turners Beach Berry Patch for breakfast, go-karting and indoor cricket. These events have been well attended by a variety of ages and has been a wonderful opportunity to reach out, encourage and strengthen relationships. 

On Mother’s Day weekend, about 40 of our UBC ladies enjoyed a scrumptious morning tea at the Turners Beach Berry Patch in their yurt.  As Mother’s Day and May Mission Month both share the month of May we were blessed on Mother’s Day to have a mission visit from Andy and hear of the work he is doing in Southeast Asia.  

Our winter table tennis competition has once again commenced on Monday evenings.  

From the pulpit 
Over the course of the last few months, we were challenged and encouraged by Pastor Louis and Lyn McKay as they preached a series titled “Called”. 

Home in glory 
We were saddened to hear of the passing of our dear sister Ivy Priestley. We give thanks to the Lord for the blessing that she was to our UBC family and all who knew her.  

Ulverstone Baptist Church
Ulverstone Baptist Church

Wynyard Baptist Church

Pastor Changes 
In 2023, Franz Brosch started the role of associate Pastor at Wynyard. Before that, he grew up in Germany in the southwest region. He always believed in God, but when it comes to Jesus and the Gospel it was in secondary school that his understanding grew. He was baptised as an adult to affirm that commitment. Recently, Pastor Owen Muskett retired after 10 years of service and the church affirmed Franz in taking Owen’s role as successor. God has led Franz and Heidi in ways that they had never expected. Pray for the church in this time of transition, and with the added challenge of Franz completing his studies.


North

City Baptist Church

Community and adventure! 
The City Baptist community has enjoyed a few adventures this year. We ventured out for a baptism at Low Head (see pictures), we joined the Marginata community in Evandale for a Taize gathering, and the Launceston Easter Festival happened on our front lawn.

The community garden (St Leonards) continues to flourish, providing welcome and hospitality to many former refugees. Our church is supporting an ecumenical initiative in Launceston that is focused on providing a safe space for young adults to ask faith questions and build community.

We hope to begin a new seed of faith, fun and community by welcoming parents/carers and their children to a weekly nature play space. This is in partnership with the manager of Utas Inveresk community garden; we are still waiting for the right person/people to help with this initiative.

With our emphasis on prayer lately, we welcome you to pray with us as we seek God’s direction for future steps. 


Latrobe Baptist Church 

Remembering Two Women 
It was a sad couple of months for the Latrobe Church in February and March with the passing of two of our ladies. Both ladies are very sorely missed but we know they are both now at rest with the Lord. 

Anneke Carrasco, (1949 – 2024) passed away suddenly on 26 February after a short illness. She had not been with us long, but her smile and cheeky manner is remembered by all of the church family 

Beryl Rallings (1931-2024) passed away on 26 March. She had been a member of the church for many years. Beryl had a wonderful singing voice and this was mentioned by lots of people at the funeral as something they remembered about her. She was a beautiful Godly woman who loved her Lord and showed that in her life. 


Newstead Baptist

Matu Church
There are five Baptist churches in the Launceston area. In 2020, Rodney and Maddy reached out to connect with the Matu church. That has begun a journey of coming closer into community and being on a journey of growing in relational connection. Now the Matu are based out of Newstead Baptist.  

The Matu meet on Friday nights, Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. The Matu Pastor has had two decades of ministering in church and he has a deep heart to connect with the Pastors around Tasmania.


Summerhill Baptist Church

Alpha
We are well into our first Alpha with Session Six this Thursday, 9 May. God has blessed us with around 14 people each week, consisting of around eight from our congregation and six seekers. There are a wide range of ages, personalities, and backgrounds, all attending the course for different reasons. There have been some great conversations already, and as relationships and trust develop people are engaging more. 

This doesn’t mean it is without its challenges. There have been times when we believe there has been negative spiritual pressures brought to bear on our groups, sometimes through distractions, discouragements, physical disruptions and recalling deep emotional experiences.

But we are hugely grateful to God, not only for the opportunities to reach out and share the gospel but also in the incredible ways he is working in so many in his church here. Many supporters bring along beautiful food each week, with so many praying for the team and guests alike. May the Holy Spirit be at work through each one for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10) 


South

Citywide Mornington, Lenah Valley, Levendale and Nepalese

Deaths 
We have been sad to say goodbye to three of our long-term members in April. Ed Straatsma, Patsy Appleby and Neil Broomhead all served their Lord and his Church faithfully throughout their lives.  We praise God for them and rejoice that they are now with Jesus. 

Baptisms  
We have been blessed and excited to witness two baptisms in the last month: Anya Evenhuis and Brendan Isaac have testified to their faith and been baptised – much to the delight of family and church friends. 

Levendale 
We have re-launched a fellowship in Levendale under the care of Paul Dare.  They are now able to receive our streamed services from Citywide.  It’s a small beginning and we are praying for God to move amongst the people in that district. 

ANZAC Day 
Again, this year we ran a fun festival for the community at Lenah Valley.  It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of connections.  Each year we are encouraged by the numbers of people who express their appreciation for the opportunities they have to express their thanks to people who have served our country and to celebrate together our freedoms and culture.  The morning is a good expression of community. 

Dinner Together 
For the rest of this year, we have offered an invitation for other Baptist churches in Hobart to join us in our monthly Dinners Together.  Our goal in this is to build a stronger community across our churches and get to know each other better. This month there were 65 involved which included 11 from Hobart Baptist.  

Foundations 
All southern churches are invited to join us as we run the Foundations course again. The course runs over 12 weeks, offering both lunch time and evening classes weekly.  This is a discipleship journey looking at God, Ourselves, Others and the World. Register on our website.

Nepalese

Nepalese
The church is growing by 10 percent every year, and we’re up to 90 people at services, but we only have 70 chairs, so this is a good problem to have. 


Claremont Baptist Church

Window on Witness
Last Christmas time, we wanted to make a display that would draw people back to the “reason for the season” so we set about to make a nativity scene outside the church. Everyone was involved, the men with bits of wood and things, the ladies with craft materials. The stable, a donated cubby house, grew to accommodate wisemen and shepherds, a sheep and donkey. Time came to dismantle the display and we found the stable was now too heavy to move!  
We now have a window to dress, and this has opened up a range of creative ideas. We try to change the display every six weeks. Dog walkers, people waiting at the bus stop and cars passing by are looking in the window and taking notice! 
The church asked for poppies to be made for an Anzac Day tribute, below, and over 900 knitted, crochet, paper and felt poppies were made by the ladies!

Easter
This Easter, beside wonderful worship services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday we reintroduced the Dawn Service on the Montrose Foreshore. We’d like to call it a “sunrise service” but clouds shrouded the sun. Nonetheless it was a wonderful morning with participants from five different churches in the Northern Suburbs, worshipping and praying for our community together. 

Increase
We have been blessed over the past six months to see a gradual increase at Sunday morning worship services from around 25 to well over 40 some mornings. Our Sunday School is active and vibrant again thanks to a new dedicated teacher. God hears and he answers prayer! 


Hobart Baptist Church

Luminous Festival 
Winter is when things generally get quiet. At Hobart it is our busy time. It is a positive way to interact with Dark Mofo in a positive way. Theme is Sacred Tasmania the links between sacred and sustainability in Tasmania. We have representatives of Parliament coming to our church. To register, visit the website.  

Esteem Coffee Shop 
Esteem Coffee’s customer base has been growing, but somewhat incremental. Starting this week the coffee shop will be offering all hot drinks for $3 for everyone. And… in July they will trial a ‘pay it forward’ scheme. This will begin with 100 hot drinks to give away.
So, if you would like a drink, you cannot pay for your own cup because it is already paid for! But if you would like to pay it forward for someone else, they will add it to the running total and keep offering everyone free cups of coffee until the running total lowers to zero.

Luminous Sacred Tasmania poster

Around the Churches April-May 2024

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Around the Churches February/March 2023

Every two months you can catch up with the latest news in Tasmanian Baptist Churches.

North

CITY BAPTIST, Launceston

Community focus

We continue to gather at Worldview as our interim meeting space. Throughout February we focused on the call back to community.

Our drop in centre meal continues at Red Dove café at Pilgrim Uniting on Saturday night. Steven continues his chaplaincy role to the street community. We would appreciate prayer for him and for Kay Hunter (who works with vulnerable women).

We continue to prayerfully discern appropriate gathering spaces as we seek to transition back to the city of Launceston – prayer for this, relationships on the edges of our community, and for future innovative ministries is much appreciated.

Steven, Red Dove Cafe (screenshot). Kay
Around the Churches Feb-Mar 2023
Steven; Red Dove Cafe; Kay

GATEWAY

Devotional together

On Sunday 12th March, each family in the church was given a booklet which is a 31-day devotional by Ray Hawkins (The Point Baptist) called Captured By Calvary.

We are going to complete this Bible study together, reading it day-by-day, culminating on Easter Sunday. On the Sundays between now and Easter, congregation members will be invited to share about their thoughts on what is covered in the devotional.

NEWSTEAD

Walk this way

 Pastor Dan organised our church’s first ‘Walk This Way’ event.  We are planning to have them regularly with the first one being held at Heritage Park.  The weather was warm and so was the fellowship.  It was lovely to see a couple of friends from Scripture Union joining with our congregation members and chatting together along the route.  The second one was held at  Trevallyn Dam on the 5th March.

Other events

Pastor Dan met with the Little Fish volunteers to talk about the new program which has commenced and working well.

Simon McCormack  is leading the work at our church  putting in a new conveniently located disabled toilet.

Elaine Carins and the rest of the Senior’s Drop in Centre crew were treated to one of Maureen Battesse’s delicious strawberry filled sponge cakes this month to celebrate Elaine’s birthday.

Walk this Way, Little Fish, Birthday Cake
Around the Churches Feb-Mar 2023
Walk this Way; Little Fish volunteers; Elaine Carins

SUMMERHILL

Time to take a break

Maddy Svoboda

Our pastor, Maddy Svoboda, was on Long Service Leave for the past few months. We’re all grateful for his dedication to our church over the years and are glad he can take a well-earned break. In his absence, we have been blessed to hear from many inspiring speakers from within our congregation, who have shared their insights, experiences, and faith with us.

Maddy has now returned, just in time for our church camp at Poatina Village on the 24th/25th February. It was a wonderful weekend of fellowship, worship, and meditative prayer. It also allowed us to reset, realign, and get to know each other on a deeper level.

The camp was a great opportunity for us to come together as a community and reaffirm our faith. We were reminded of the importance of connection, support, and empathy as we shared stories, sang and prayed together.

We are also grateful to the organisers of the church camp, who worked hard to ensure that all safety protocols were followed, and that everyone felt welcome and included. It was heartening to see people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences come together and build meaningful relationships.

PERTH

Community picnic

On the Saturday before Christmas 2022, we arranged a Community Picnic. We had over 300 people come and be part of it. They then came to our Christmas Carol Service that night – over 200 people filled the church to overflowing!

Sunday nights at Perth

On the last Sunday in February, we commenced what will be a regular Sunday evening activity. There will be a meal once a month, and afternoon tea on the other weeks. The content will be The Chosen television series.

READ MORE about Perth Baptist in their recently released church profile >

Perth Baptist Church Profile

Northwest

LOWER BARRINGTON

Now livestreaming

We give thanks to God that we have had Starlink installed and are beginning to livestream our services via YouTube to reach out beyond our boundaries. It is very exciting that we have had responses even from overseas. It is such a blessing for a little country church in Tasmania.

Jeff Percival speaks at the Lwr Barrington pizza night
Jeff Percival speaks at the Pizza night

Pizza night

On 24th February our Pastor Jeff Percival was guest speaker at a free Pizza night for men at Sheffield Town Hall with over 100 men attending. A great Gospel message was shared with them all.

LIFEWAY, Devonport

Lifeway were recently announced as the national winners of Baptist Mission Australia’s Walk the World campaign!

READ ABOUT IT HERE >

ULVERSTONE

Christmas

The UBC family celebrated Christmas together on Christmas Eve with an entertaining skit, musical items and carols. We were able to host lunch on Christmas Day for those in our community who otherwise would have been spending Christmas alone. This was a lovely day, with about 65 attending.

Christmas Eve at Ulverstone 2023; Fabruary Baptisms
Around the Churches Feb-Mar 2023
Christmas Eve at UBC; Baptism at the beach

Picnics and Baptisms

We have enjoyed the warmth of summer and gathered together for two church family picnics in Fairway Park. This has been a wonderful way to celebrate who we are. Not bound or defined by a building or location. Simply being who we are and who we are called to be.  It was a great opportunity to connect with each other and meet new people. The highlight of these two picnics however was to celebrate with three of our young people, Charlotte, Josiah and Kailem by witnessing their baptisms at the beach.

Gone to Glory

We mourned the passing of long-time member June Woodberry in January. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

Kids Church

After a few years without having a children’s ministry it is an absolute joy to see Kids Church start up again. We are so grateful to Claire and Abbey for serving in this way and we love watching our UBC kids as they excitedly leave our church service to enjoy their program.

Shmuel Junger

In February we were privileged to spend an evening listening to Shmuel Junger. Shmuel was born and raised in Israel and spoke about his amazing personal story and updated us on the unique challenges facing the brave pioneers who have settled in Judea and Samaria.

BURNIE

Matty, Ashley and their girls

Appointment of new Pastor

Late last year, Burnie Baptist called Matty Coppin to a full-time pastoral position.

Matty, Ashley, and their two girls accepted the call, and are winding things up in Edmonton, Canada. They plan to arrive in July or August of this year. Please pray for a successful property sale, and a smooth international move.

Praise God with us at Burnie, as we are very excited about Matty and Ashley’s arrival.

WYNYARD

Christmas joy

There was a large gathering of people at Carols in Guttridge Gardens on Christmas Eve. This is an annual event, organised by our church and enjoyed by all who attend in a lovely setting near the Inglis River.

Approximately 100 people, from both the community and the church who are alone at Christmas, enjoyed a lovely Christmas dinner catered for by our church on Christmas Day in the ROC building.

Coffee makes a difference

We continue to support two children in India with Baptist  World Aid with money from cappuccino sales on Sunday mornings after church fellowship.

Welcome Franz and Heidi!

Franz and Heidi Brosch
Franz and Heidi Brosch

We are delighted to have welcomed our Associate Pastor Franz Brosch  and his wife Heidi into our fellowship on Sunday 11th February. We look forward to working with them, and getting to know them, as they share the ministry with Pastor Owen.
READ: Getting to know Franz Brosch >

MARRAWAH

Thanksgiving service

Marrawah Baptist held a Thanksgiving service on Sunday 5th February as it closed its doors after 70 years of faithful service in the community.

People, young and old, packed out the building to celebrate the life, service and impact of the church over so many decades.

Mission Director Stephen Baxter spoke, and the morning was MC’d by Dan Evenhuis (Citywide) who has fond memories of leading the Marrawah youth group.

READ MORE about Marrawah’s Thanksgiving service >

Thanksgivng service at Marrawah - the people gathered
Around the Churches Feb-Mar 2023
Marrawah Thanksgiving service, 5th Feb 2023

Around the Churches Feb-Mar 2023

South

CITYWIDE

Aboriginal Sunday

On Sunday 22nd January, Citywide closed our doors, and our three congregations combined to celebrate Aboriginal Sunday in an open air service on the Domain.  Paul Dare preached and inspired us to continue on our journey of understanding and acknowledging the painful history of Tasmanian Aborigines. 

In the early European settlements the native Australians showed the new settlers how and where to find water, and in exchange the Aboriginals had access to flour and salt.  We celebrated this tentative exchange by drinking water together and eating damper.  The service culminated in sharing a picnic lunch together.

Mission Partnership

We are excited in the new partnership we have formed with Baptist Mission Australia to work together in reaching the Hindu community of Hobart, primarily through the community services our Nepalese congregation offer to new arrivals. 

We have received a generous grant from BMA towards purchasing a van and employing a Community Support Worker for two-days/week for two years.

Lunch time Forum

Rev Prof Rene Enrich, Principal and Professor of Practical Theology at Whitley College, spoke at a lunch forum on his specialized subject, Sexuality and Theology in Conversation.  Rene stimulated and challenged those who attended, to allow the Spirit of God to reshape our thinking. 

READ: Citywide Annual Report 2022

Celebrations
  • MARRIED:  Josh Garvin and Jen Paull on 31st December
  • MARRIED:  Kevin Chalk and Sonya Latham on 8th January
  • ENGAGED:  Mitchell Semmens and Sophie Garvin on 17th January
  • BAPTISED:  Sophie Griffiths on 19th February at Lenah Valley
Tas Baptist NEWS February 2023 showing Citywide Baptist and their three congregations, gathering on Aboriginal Sunday
Citywide gather on the Domain for Aboriginal Sunday

CLAREMONT

T2 Women

Around the Churches Feb-Mar 2023
T2 Women at Claremont Baptist
T2 Women

Claremont’s ladies group, T2women, had a wonderful start to the year with a garden party under ancient elms  in one of our member’s beautiful historic garden. The weather was glorious, the tea delicious and the conversation delightful as we shared our favourite flowers, poems and songs about flowers.

T2 comes from Titus 2:3-5 which encourages the women of the church from all generations to learn from each other. Our hope is to grow our faith through friendships. 

Together with IC Church

We held a combined service with IC Church and shared lunch afterwards. It is hoped we might do this more often. Pastor Mohan from Singapore was the speaker so an extra blessing to know we can worship with brothers and sisters from around the world. 

Church review

Currently we are doing a church review looking at our current ministries, their effectiveness and how we can build on these strong foundations into the near and long term future. 

IC CHURCH, Glenorchy

Five baptisms!

On Sunday, 8th January 2023, Intercultural Church (ICC) at Glenorchy started the new year by celebrating the baptism of five young members of the congregation. It was very exciting to see these young men make a public declaration of their decision to follow Jesus.

Some very different faith journeys were involved – from growing up in a Christian household to coming from a non-Christian background.

Aasan, from Nepal, wanted to find out about Christianity so contacted the church via its website. Graham, one of the ICC elders met with Aasan and helped lead him to Christ. Aasan started attending the church and it was not long before he asked for baptism.

Franklin (from Hobart) in his own spiritual journey, had also reached a decision to be baptised.

Aasan and Franklin were joined by three brothers, Yosief, Musse and Fitsum who were originally from Sudan but have been Australians for six years now.

From many different parts of the globe but now brothers in Christ – sharing a bond that will last for eternity.

IC Church baptisms, Feb 2023; Around the Churches Feb-Mar 2023
Aasan is baptised; L-R: Aasan, Yosief, Fitsum, Musse and Franklin.

HOBART

Events at HBC

On Saturday 18th February, City Bible Forum used our building as a hub to host the Life@Work Conference.

Then, on Monday/Tuesday, 20th/21st February, we hosted the Tasmanian Baptist Pastor’s Muster, where Dr Christa McKirland of Carey Baptist College, Auckland, spoke.
Find out more about the Muster >

It is great to have our new facilities used for gatherings such as these.

Fundraising for Ukraine

On Wednesday 22nd February, a piano recital was held at Hobart Town Hall to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees, who are being assisted by Ukrainian Pastor Anton Kaluzhny in Kyiv.

The event was MC’d by Sean Priest. Kelvin Smith and Timothy Prajogo performed – all from HBC.

READ MORE about the fundraiser in February 2023 NEWS >
DONATE to fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees >

Sanctuary Sunday

We are looking forward to celebrating Sanctuary Sunday/Harmony Day on Sunday 19th March as we celebrate our broad ethnic diversity. We are grateful for contributions the Karen, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Anuak (Ethiopian) and other nations make to our fellowship.

Around the Churches Feb-Mar 2023; Hobart Baptist Harmony Day 2022; Pastors Muster Feb 2023
Some of the national dress worn on Sanctuary Sunday-Harmony Day 2022;
Pastor’s Muster, 20/21 February 2023

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Around the Churches Feb-Mar 2023

Walk the World Winners!

Walk the World = Baptist Mission Australia

Baptists At Our Best

Congratulations Lifeway Baptist

Baptist Mission Australia award for praying, walking, driving and time in the garden! 

Last November, Baptist Churches nationally were encouraged by Baptist Mission Australia to pray for their community, neighbourhood and the world in the Walk the World campaign.

Lifeway Baptist in Devonport took up the challenge, and their efforts so impressed Baptist Mission Australia, that they won a prize!

Jenny Mountney of Lifeway Baptist explains what happened.

Baptist Mission Australia’s November initiative of “Walk the World” and praying over a three-day period really captured the heart of the Lifeway community.

There were people praying as they drove the streets, walked the streets and undertook activity across the state, country and overseas. The intentional prayer focus was for our community, state, country and intercultural teams, wherever they were.  

From the youngest in Sunday Tribes, to the most elderly, it is thought over 60% of the community took part. Nothing inspires people more than a challenge – and an amazing purpose – to bring our world to the Lord. We asked for healing and peace, strength and vision.

Baptist Mission Australia provided prayer guides, and children’s resources and activities. Our insomniacs prayed through their nights. The workers took moments in their day to walk and pray. The bushwalkers marvelled at God’s glory while counting steps and kilometers. 

Watch Lifeway’s video report

Excited responses

It was an amazing weekend filled with hope and joy. Plus, we are excited to receive the award for Australian Baptist Churches Walk the World winners! So many amazing stories came from the initiative, and it is quite surreal that Lifeway Baptist was selected. A huge thank you goes to every person who supported, prayed, walked and rode praying for our world. 

Teagan Dwyer-Riviere, Communications Manager at Baptist Mission Australia, said “Our team was so blown away by the amazing report you shared about how your whole church community got involved in Walk the World in November last year! It was so encouraging to read of the creative ways people of all ages, abilities and interests engaged in prayer. It sounds like it was a very rich time of prayer and community engagement.”.

Senior Pastor Nicholas Alexander was ecstatic. “It’s super encouraging for Lifeway, both for the mission’s team who work so hard, and for all of us in our prayer life.”

We at Lifeway are looking forward to receiving our first prize of a whole of church morning tea and guest speaker from Baptist Mission Australia. Fingers crossed this can take place in May Missions Month! 


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Walk the World Winners

CHURCH PROFILE: LifeWay Baptist Devonport

LifeWay Baptist church
Advance July-August 2021, LifeWay Baptist

our church:

ADVANCE | step by step features a series of church profiles. This issue it’s all about LifeWay Baptist in Devonport. Plus the new work – in Cygnet.

From the LifeWay Baptist Senior Pastor:

Nicholas Alexander

LifeWay Baptist is an amazing church . . .

It began in the 1880s when a group of Christians got together in the local billiard room to worship and seek God. 141 years later, we are still getting together.

As the current lead pastor, I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of this chapter. We are building on a beautiful legacy and God willing laying the foundations for an exciting Kingdom-focused future.

To give you a taste of what our church is like, I asked our two Associate Pastors to write about the church from their perspectives. Penny has been a part of our church for a few months, and Denise Stephenson was practically born on the pews.

Hopefully, their accounts will give you a good idea of what LifeWay is like, but also remind you that God is always active and is right now building his kingdom throughout all our churches.

Nicholas Alexander
Pastor Nicholas Alexander

Nicholas Alexander, Senior Pastor

Visit LifeWay Baptist website >>>

Hello!

The pastoral team at LifeWay Baptist are Nicholas, Denise, and myself – Penny. We are part of the tribe leading and serving in Lifeway Baptist in Devonport and Cygnet. Between us all, we have a bunch of almost identical blonde children. Some patient and amazing pastor-partners. And a fantastic community of members who are striving to love and serve Jesus more and more.

As a team, we like to have long staff meetings, brainstorm big ideas and have cake together whenever possible. Collectively we work well together. Amazingly, we cancel out one another’s weaknesses with mutual shared love of the vulnerable, the downcast and the forgotten.

Just Like Any Other Church

LifeWay Baptist Passions

LifeWay Baptist is a church not dissimilar to any others. We gather, we sing songs (sometimes not so well), we pray with our hearts imperfectly. Kids are so important and we absolutely love them (and their prayer too) and their precious innocence and view of God. We have a long history of laughing, making jokes and capturing joy. So we are not a polished or modern church. We just try super hard to be real, authentic and full of Jesus and his Spirit. We’ve had moments of great joy and sorrow together, which has made our love for our church stronger and deeper. At LifeWay we thank one another for all others are doing. We try to encourage with words and deeds, and we seek to be helpful and supportive.

At LifeWay we have a huge list of volunteers and ministry leaders who keep things ticking over. This includes ministry areas such as Young Adults, Kids ministry, visiting of the elderly, social justice awareness and advocacy, and Missionary support. It also includes grocery shopping and casual connections over coffee. It is our belief that with the right alignment to Jesus and his radical and transformative love, all things flow. One of the things LifeWay cherishes is vulnerability. We are working towards being the kind of church who will pray for one another after a service,. Who will invite one another’s personal struggles into a small group (pulse group). And who will invite neighbours, friends and strangers into the family at LifeWay – with or without a Sunday service.

More About LifeWay

We are not fancy, or flashy, or particularly special. Our building is getting a slight re-vamp, but the members unanimously decided to keep costs low so we could use funds to support mission and the poor. At LifeWay we try hard to see those who are unseen, and look for opportunities that God has placed, right in front of our noses, for mission that flows easily and without struggle. So we are like a passionate barista, serving weekly by making a coffee; a fitness enthusiast starting a boxing group; or an art teacher sitting with teenagers to create.

We partner with Devonport Chaplaincy to provide a need with the facilities we have been blessed with such as TAFE training, using our commercial kitchen, providing space for community groups to hire, and connect and facilitation play spaces. We didn’t think of these things ourselves – they found us!

In lots of ways, LifeWay is just an extension of a bunch of families getting together, with the title “church” wrapped around it. We hold Jesus at the centre, and with our collective giftings and talents, we are excited about what he might plant or uproot in the coming years.

Ultimately we acknowledge and trust that this is his church, and we are really enjoying being in partnership with him.

Denise Stephenson

I’ve been a part of the Devonport Baptist Church (now LifeWay Baptist) since before I was born, almost 60 years ago. My parents, Ted and Dawn Nibbs were active members, so my family attended the little West Devonport Sunday School; my sisters and I sang in the Junior Choir; attended Girl’s Brigade and the Youth Group. Dad was Church Secretary (and later, a pastor), and Mum was Superintendent of the Sunday School, amongst many other things.

Denise Stephenson
Denise Stephenson
LifeWay Baptist History

Every Sunday at 11am we filed into church for the Sunday service, where men wore suits and ties, and ladies wore Sunday “best”, including hat. For all the formality which was part of going to church in that era, it was a welcoming, engaged community of Jesus followers

Growing up at Devonport Baptist I had no sense that any aspect of church life was off-limits to me. It was a long time before I realised that not all churches had women in leadership. Or even allowed women to preach. In every other place in my life I was very shy, but at Church I was encouraged to be part of things. Youth Group was a great place to find my feet as a follower of Jesus, hang out with others. It was there I tried out speaking in public, leading worship, and having a voice.

The 1970s was a period of great change as church became a less important aspect of people’s lives, and many of my friends from Sunday School and youth group stopped going to church. Even in Devonport, times were changing and this naturally affected church life. In the 1980s, young people were leaving to study and not returning, and families leaving to pursue work opportunities interstate. I was one of them.

The Next Era

When I returned to Devonport in the mid-1990s, church was very different. There were now two morning services: a family-focused, contemporary service at 9.30am; and a traditional, hymn-based service at 11am. I accepted a role on the Leadership Team in the late 90s. Then I worked in the office for 10 years before taking on a pastoral position three years ago. I’ve been part of taking our congregation through some challenging times as we’ve navigated changing social expectations and behaviour.

We’ve experimented with worship structure, ministry focus, and changed our name to LifeWay. At times, I’ve felt frustrated by the slow rate of change. But looking back now, I can see that DBC/LifeWay has actually changed significantly! Sometimes you need to take a step back to see how far you’ve come.

In December 2020 my husband Mark and I moved way down south, to Lymington (near Cygnet), to explore a new way of being a community of faith here in the Huon Valley and Channel area. We have the image of a Long Table where everyone is welcome. And our plan is to keep our eyes open to what God is doing. But we haven’t gone alone. The lovely community at LifeWay have chosen to “send” us south, supporting us through prayer and encouragement.

It’s great the faith family who walked with me my entire life chooses to accompany us on this new adventure.

LifeWay Baptist Montage


Read more in the July/August 2021 ADVANCE | step by step

Keeping it Real – #nofilter Church

Keeping it Real, #nofilter church
Advance Header

food for thought:

By Denise Stephenson
Heartlands News
Denise Stephenson

Denise Stephenson is a trained Spiritual Director and, until December 2020, was Spiritual Formation Pastor at LifeWay Baptist Church Devonport. What is #nofilter church? Read on to find out!


I love Instagram!

All those squares filled with beautiful pictures of magical places, designer interiors, and adorable children dressed in linen!

Most of us (on our good days) recognise that Instagram is the home of “This Filtered Life”. Isn’t it tempting to apply a “filter” to life so it looks good on the outside?

Whilst none of us really expects social media to be an honest reflection of life, most of us hope our communities of faith would be the one place we feel safe enough to be our “unfiltered” self. But if I am honest, church is often a place, as much as any other, where I have felt pressure to look, act or feel a particular kind of way.

We say, “Come as you are”, but really we mean come if you feel upbeat, on top of things, happy and well – and if you’re not, at least try act as if you are. Apply the “worship” filter where it’s smiling, happy people holding hands. “We’re here to worship God!!” Amen?!

We try and “stay together”

What would our community of faith look like if it was #nofilter? Denise Stephenson

What would our community of faith, and our worship, look like if it was #nofilter? In the weeks following my husband Mark’s cancer diagnosis, I really didn’t feel like going to church. But, being one of the pastors, I turned up to church each week, determined to keep it all ‘together’. I had my “filter” firmly in place.

As soon as the songs started, every word would punch into my gut, and I would start crying… which was the LAST thing I wanted to do. Welcome to #nofilter! It was awful but it was real. Without me noticing, people would come to stand with me, and after the service, friends would slip into the chair beside me and pray for me.

I would go home, still in pain, still afraid, a blotchy, red-faced teary mess but having what I needed to keep going.

Embrace what God does for you

It takes guts to show our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses, and our messiness – to be real. But that’s exactly what God wants from us. God isn’t fooled by the filter, and wants to see the real person made in his image. I find that such a relief. I love The Message translation of Romans 12:1-2 which says:

Here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 

Romans 12:1-2 MSG

Let’s start #nofilter Sunday, and see what happens when we give God our real self. I think it could change church.

For good!

Denise Stephenson

Denise, and her husband Mark, recently moved to Lymington (south of Cygnet) where they are exploring new ways of being a community of faith in their new neighbourhood. Even so, Denise still works in Cygnet as an offshoot of LifeWay Devonport. Denise and Mark sail, garden, chop wood (it’s cold down here!) and hang out in cafes, getting to know their new neighbourhood, and keeping a lookout for what God is doing down in the deep south.

All About Gwen*, LifeWay Devonport

Gwen Interview
Advance Dec-20

New Appointment: Emerging Generations Pastor

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gwen ceased this position with Lifeway in early 2023, and asked her name be anonymised due to requirements for her new employment.


interview:

Gwen* was recently appointed to the ministry team at LifeWay Baptist in Devonport as Emerging Generations Pastor. Who is she and where does she come from? Read on!

Where were you born and what was it like growing up there?

I grew up in St. Marys which is in between Fingal and St. Helens on the East Coast. Growing up there was very open-ended. I was quite sheltered from mainstream culture and my parents are both artists, so they made a world for us, which involved lots of nature, free play and traditions. It was quite isolating, but we definitely felt like we belonged in a tight-knit community.
It taught me to view the world differently. My parents were both quite poor, but it never bothered me. I feel like this has taught me to be generous where we can as a family, and hold possessions loosely.

When and why did you move to the northwest?

My husband and I moved to Ulverstone in 2001 when we both applied for teaching positions. We met in Launceston but knew we wanted a quieter lifestyle. We were blessed to be working at the same Christian school, me as an art teacher and Adam as a 5/6 teacher. I have been incredibly blessed.

What do you enjoy most about living in Ulverstone?

The beach and bush. We are constantly in awe of this incredible landscape, and for me the sea is my equilibrium. I love raising our kids by the ocean, and that their memories will be tied into the beach. I also love our community. Ulverstone is such a welcoming place, and it has everything we need without crowds.

How did you become a Christian?

I grew up in a Christian home that encouraged debate and questioning. As a young child, I always felt drawn to know God, and felt a strong sense of awe and wonder in my Catholic parish.
I made a commitment as a 12-year-old at a Youth Alive camp, and again at 21 when Adam and I were baptised. I have always analysed church (we have been to a few in our marriage), and I love that my perspectives are listened to and considered.

Growing up in a small Catholic church we had a priest for a long time, but by the time I was 10 or 11 we had a Sister run our parish for many years. This has definitely impacted my view of women in the church and I am indebted to her. I also attended Spiritual Direction since I was 16, which I can see now is pretty unique!

What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Best piece of advice: make your own boundaries and stick to them--because no one else will do it for you.

I pick up so much advice and store it all away for different seasons! This week I was so impacted by a friend’s advice of “make your own boundaries and stick to them–because no one else will do it for you”.
This idea had never actually occurred to me, I always sort assumed people would only ask me certain things without stretching me, but experience has taught me that everyone has different boundaries and ideas of ‘what is OK’. With young kids, I especially need to be careful of my commitments.

When people ask you how you spend your time, what do you say?

Ha ha! So many things! I’m a mama of two, so I spend a portion of my time cooking, cleaning, packing lunches (which is the worst!) My husband helps me a lot with this too.
I also spend time exercising, reading and being with people. I love being around others, especially talking about deeper issues and listening to suffering.
Our eldest joined our family as a biological child, and the younger one through foster care. Fostering has been one of the most rewarding and impactful things I’ve ever done. It has also been, and continues to be, the most stretching and difficult. I am incredibly passionate about the burden and blessing of fostering. I also work for a not-for-profit organisation in community outreach and mentoring.

What is your role in the Baptist Church?

I’m still in awe about my role, and I’m blessed beyond words. I am the “Emerging Generations Associate Pastor”. When I am at work I get to play with kids, relate to them, pray with and for them, and walk alongside them. Personally, I had a few very key people in my faith journey, and they all dropped-in during my childhood. I am so honoured that I get to be that person for some precious children. Hopefully, I will also reach out to Mamas as they carry such a heavy load. I carry it too, and I think I have picked up some ideas and experience that might help others.

What excites you most about what you do?

I think in a nutshell, bringing God’s peace and healing to others and helping to make our church an inclusive and exciting space for children. I am hoping to start a small ‘art group’ for younger girls, as well some retreat-style days for older teens. As well as facilitate the LifeWay Kids Ministry with my awesome volunteers.

What challenges do you have as you do this work?

At this stage, it’s organisation and juggling. I am a creative at heart, and I find it really hard to stay disciplined and organised. My wonderful husband has taught and coached me a LOT with this and I know there’s no way I could juggle all I am doing without his unwavering support. I plan to set some structure around my time so I can work efficiently.

So How can we pray for you and your work?

Pray for balance, connections and opportunities to rest at the end of the year. 2020 has been a huge year for so many, and our family has had a big year of transition and change.

Short and Sweet

I am looking forward to … 2021 and meeting new families, as well as investing in the beautiful ones in front of me

I am worried about … Gosh, nothing really! Having too much fun at work?

I am confident that … God has placed me on this path for a reason, despite the pain I might have been through to get here.

I am joyful about … At the moment, it’s our pending summer. When it finally arrives!

I would like to change … society’s view of children. There would be so many less-wounded adults.

I am at my best when … I am with people, doing something creative.


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  • Not her real name

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