Healthy Church Audit Time

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Rodney Marshall Healthy Church Audit

Baptist Churches are each responsible for how they operate and the policies they implement. Baptist church autonomy means it is not appropriate for a central body to set or demand that things be done a certain way. At the same time, the Tasmanian Government Insurers and the community expect that certain standards are maintained. 

The Healthy Church Audit started because of a decision made at the October 2018 assembly. It is now in its fifth year. Some people may be very familiar with the audit and why we do it, but with changes of roles, others may be wondering what it is all about. 

Why Audit?

The Audit is an annual reminder to check that each church has certain things up to date and working in their context.  It offers a chance to reassess and ask: Is this still working for us? Has there been changes in the law or in the community that means we need to make an adjustment? Is our record keeping up to date? 

Covid Safe Plans  

This will (hopefully) be the final year that asks about Covid Safe plans. The government has now removed the mandatory requirement, but given the recent experience, having a plan on how to handle any future pandemics might be wise. 

Pastoral Registration and Accreditation  

Likewise, the Pastoral registration and accreditation systems are changing, and next year’s questions will be a little different. 

Church Financial Health

The Audit also asks about the church’s financial health. It is far better to see issues early rather than dig a hole that you can’t get out of. Having worked as an accountant I have seen many businesses struggle to get themselves out of things when a little bit of external advice could have made a big difference. If only people would ask for help when they needed it! 

Church Financial Information Form

The final part of the Audit is the Church Financial Information form. As part of our commitment to each other the agreed funding model is that each church contributes 5 percent of its income to keep Tas Baptists running. Over the year different models have been tried, based on attendance or number of members etc., The Assembly agreed the fairest method of funding was based on a share of income. For those churches that operate businesses, only the surplus from the business is included as income. 

Forms are due by 30 April 2024 (along with a copy of Financial Reports for last FY) ready to report to Assembly on 11 May. If you have any questions about the Healthy Church Audit or the information gathered, please feel free to contact Rodney on 0407 903 620 or 

Photo of Rodney Marshall

Rodney Marshall is Operations Manager for Tasmanian Baptists, and Pastor at Riverlands Community Church.

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Safe Churches Update

Safe Churches update June 2023

Safe Churches

Keeping Our Children Safe


Tas Baptists’ Administrator Rodney Marshall explains the new legislation our churches must engage with.

On the 30th of May the Child and Youth Safe Organisations Act passed the houses of parliament, fulfilling the Sate’s responsibility to enact the 10 Child Safe Principles and to establish an Independent Regulator.

The 10 standards mirror the recommendations from the Royal Commission and the principles developed by the Australia Human Rights Commission. Their scope encompasses all forms of harm to children and young people, in addition to child sexual abuse, requiring adherence to the following …

The Ten Standards for Safe Churches

Standard 1

Requires organisations to ensure that child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.

Standard 2

Ensures that children and young people are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.

Standard 3

Ensures families and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing.

Standard 4

Guarantees that equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and in practice.

Standard 5

Requires that people working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice.

Standard 6

Requires processes to respond to complaints and concerns to be child-focused.

Standard 7

Expects that staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.

Standard 8

Requires physical and online environments to promote safety and wellbeing, while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.

Standard 9

Sees regular review and improvement of the child and youth safe standards within the organisation.

Standard 10

Ensures policies and procedures document how the entity is safe for children and young people.

In addition

As well, there is an additional overarching principle that embeds the right of Aboriginal children and young people to cultural safety which sits across all 10 Child and Youth Safe Standards.

What churches need to do now

Several years back, at the request of our insurers, Tas Baptists churches updated their policies to incorporate these standards. The main task that remains is to appropriately train and support our workers and volunteers.

Training completion date: 1st January 2024.

Matt Henderson (S), Owen Muskett (NW) and Linda Guy (N) have agreed to assist by providing training around the state. In addition, online training will be available in the Safety Management Online system. Once the trainers are trained, Workshop details for each region will be made available.

So as to comply with the new laws we need to ensure that everyone 18 and over, who ministers (has direct care or gives spiritual direction) to a person under 18, understands the principles and their application.

I hope the workshops will answer most of your questions, but if you would like to check on something before then please contact me on 0407 903 620 or

Rodney Marshall

Rodney Marshall
Tas Baptists Administrator

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Safe Churches

PROFILE: Riverlands Christian Community, Longford

Riverlands Baptist Longford

our church:

ADVANCE | step by step now features a new series of church profiles. This issue it’s all about Riverlands Baptist Church, Longford.

Advance Dec-20, Summerhill Baptist profile

Firstly, read an overview from the pastor, Rodney Marshall. Then continue scrolling for highlights from church member, Meg Roberts, and some memories from former pastor Jeff McKJinnon.

From Riverlands Baptist Pastor: Rodney Marshall

Howdy everybody!

Tracey and Rodney Marshall, Riverlands Baptist
Tracey and Rodney Marshall
Riverlands Baptist, Beginnings

I’m Rodney, the Tas Baptists’ Administrator, Riverlands Pastor, insurance man . . . and I have many other hats. Today’s hat is that of Pastor of Riverlands Christian Community at Longford, where I’ve been for over three years. Tracey and I have three married daughters, and five grandkids. (No. 6 is coming soon!)

I grew up in Ulverstone, becoming a Christian in a cult at age 23. It took me 10 years to break free from the cult, and many more after that to work out what I really believe.

Riverlands is known to many in the Baptist community as the place many Assemblies are held. We have a wonderful building, that is only 20 years old, and it is a blessing. While it is a little out of the centre of town, it is increasingly becoming an important part of the community.

Riverlands is known to many in the Baptist community as the place many Assemblies are held.

New opportunities to connect with our community

Last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 troubles, we opened our door to Meals on Wheels, who now have their regional distribution base here. As well, a Kiosk for Carers to access support and information will open soon. These community programs are part of our engagement with the people of Longford and surrounding area.

Late last year the Northern Midlands Council approached us to ask if we would host a Neighbourhood house. The house would have a goal of seeking to provide services and support to struggling groups throughout the area. Council was unsuccessful at its initial attempts to gain funding through the Tasmanian Community Fund but continues to seek funding from other sources.

Our church partners with chaplains at both Longford Primary and Cressy High School, providing mentors and support to the Breakfast Club. We are actively looking for other ways to engage the children and parents of Longford. Recently a young mum has come to us seeking to hire a space to run Alpha for other mums. She seemed surprised when we offered her not only the space for free, but support in setting up and running the program.

Sundays . . . and moving forward

Riverlands Baptist Info

Most weeks our Sunday morning service has someone new in attendance. Visitors traveling the state, old members testing the waters on returning, new people to Longford looking for a church, and the new Christians who church members have walked alongside. It’s lovely looking out and wondering “Who is that person?”

It’s lovely looking out and wondering “Who is that person?”

With all that’s happening around the place it’s important to keep our focus on Jesus and what he is doing. His heart is for all the people struggling in life and reaching out for help in so many wrong places. Finding the right way to engage is a critical part of moving forward.

The church has been looking for someone to work with us in reaching young families, and providing support to parents. Maybe that is being provided for us by a young mum in a way we didn’t ever expect. Maybe it is just a step down a path we never thought about. Either way we are excited to see what Jesus does.

Please pray for us as we seek wisdom, boldness and passion in seeing God’s kingdom come into the lives of the people in our community.

Member Reflection

By Meg Roberts

Riverlands’ Baptist Groups Connecting With Local Community

At Riverlands our various groups have been up and running again for a while, some with more participants than before lockdown, some with less.

Longford Baptist Montage_April 2021
 Neighbours Group; Threads of Friendship; Stay and Play playtime; Stay and Play, craft; Stay and Play, feeding the lamb; Stay and Play storytime.
  • Neighbours Group meets fortnightly. Lunch used to be on the menu before COVID-19 struck, but is not practical now. Folk still come for a good chat, the occasional quiz, and a very good morning tea.
  • Threads of Friendship Craft Group are working on a variety of individual projects, from “Diamond Painting” (about which a few said, “I could never do that” but who are now really enjoying it) to crocheting and card-making. As a group we will no doubt soon be back into making gifts for the Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.
  • Games Group ladies were meeting in private homes for a while after lockdown but are happy to have joined together again at the church. All the groups are meeting in the foyer for the time being to comply with social distancing.
  • Stay and Play have their own area and it is a busy time with little people and their carers – mums, dads, aunts, or grandparents. Feeding the sheep in the adjoining paddock is a highlight, along with a variety of activities. There are also a few folk from our congregation to help or be a listening ear.

Heather Hockey’s Farewell

Heather Hockey Riverlands Baptist

On Sunday 14th March 2021, we at Riverlands Baptist held a delightful farewell service. We gave thanks for the various areas that Heather Hockey, and her husband Les, contributed to over 18 years of attending Longford Baptist/Riverlands. Les is now with his Lord, and Heather is moving to Queensland to be near family.

It was lovely to have some of Heather’s friends as part of our congregation, including some from the Neighbours Group that Heather has looked after for many years.

Various members of our congregation spoke in appreciation of Heather. For many years she led a team of caterers for functions held in our church building. Participants noticed her care for people in general, and for those with special dietary needs. We even had a poem read to us highlighting some of Les and Heather’s exploits! Heather has also put a lot of prayer and work into the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Shoeboxes: “There will be many in heaven who will thank her for bringing them to Jesus”.

Heather spoke of how much God had helped her and Les, and of the help and blessing that many in the church had been, especially as Les’ health deteriorated.

Her strong Christian walk and faith shone out during all parts of the church service, which ended with the Elders praying for her. Heather is a friend and encourager to many and although she will be very much missed, we were glad to give her our blessing as we sent her on to her next adventure, led by Jesus.

Memories of the Transition to our New Building

Former Tabernacle, Longford Baptist Church
The former Baptist Tabernacle, Longford

As the pastor who oversaw the move from the old Longford Tabernacle to the new Riverlands building, Jeff McKinnon has some unique perspectives!

  • Prayer was a very important element right throughout the decision-making and building process.
  • The building was not to be ‘a church’. Rather, the church would meet in a community centre, Riverlands.
  • However we also had a strong emphasis on operating mission off-site. We didn’t want the building to dominate our sense of identity and vocation.
  • The church had a careful process of about 5 years to decide to relocate, and how to relocate (eg refurbish a building, build on a ‘greenfield’, etc).
  • The church employed two of our members, John Pitt (builder) and Tim Preece (bricklayer) to construct Riverlands. Others provided significant time covering some other trades. During the building program we had one or two evening working bees most weeks.
  • Two of our oldest members, Miss Gladys Long and Mrs Doris King, opened Riverlands by cutting the ribbon, and turning the key respectively. A large crowd was present.
  • The church opened the new building largely debt free (a $10,000 interest free loan from Tasmanian Baptists was outstanding but repaid quite quickly). All up, the new facility cost about $500,000.00.
  • Initially the church retained its former name ‘Longford Baptist Church’ and the building only became known as ‘Riverlands’. After 2004, the name ‘Riverlands’ became the name of the church as well.