Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, 2021

Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast 2021
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prayer for the state:

Wednesday 24th November, Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart

This year’s Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast brought together like-minded people from across Tasmania to pray for our State, our leaders, parliamentarians, businesses, schools, communities, and community organisations; our families, youth, and children.

Over 400 people attended this, the 16th annual Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast. It was attended by Church and business leaders, aid agency representatives, and many other Christians from across the state.

A record number of State and Federal politicians attended, 26 out of a possible 40. This included the Premier Peter Gutwein, the Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff, and Leader of the Opposition Bec White. Jacquie Petrusma MP welcomed all as the Parliamentary Host.

Tasmania’s Young People

Prof. Patrick Parkinson speaks at the Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast 2021
Prof. Patrick Parkinson

The breakfast was chaired by Stephen Baxter (Tas Baptist Mission Director), who oversees the TPPB organising committee. The newly formed Calvin School Choir, pictured below, performed for those gathered.

Prof. Patrick Parkinson, the speaker at the recent Tasmanian Baptist Annual Assembly, gave an overview of some of his achievements. He spoke about the care and nurture of young people in Tasmania, and presented some concerning statistics. Having suffered childhood abuse, and his current blended family, he spoke into those numbers with heart-warming vulnerability and authority.

Framing

Stephen Baxter

As usual, Stephen Baxter gave a very insightful framing to begin the morning. It is reproduced here for you . . .

Let me take a moment to explain why I believe we are here.

We gather in the name and spirit of Jesus to pray for our state and its people. From the oldest to the youngest, those doing well and those not so well, those who lead and those who serve.

Across this room we are a rich and diverse tapestry of culture, experience, outlook and belief, believers and non-believers alike. We do life together on this magnificent island, Tasmania – lutruwita. We are wrapped in the world’s purest air, graced with magnificent forests and magical lakes, lined with epic coastlines and surrounded by crystal clear water. It is a slice of heaven. We are truly blessed.

Yet, our lives, public and private, could be better. Perhaps, more than ever, we are rightly aware of the wrongs of the past, sensitive to racism and injustice, and conscious of the need to care for our environment. But the same time we are distracted by fear and anger. It shapes our lives.

A damaging polarisation is at work. We see it in the rage and resentment that prioritises victimhood and grievance over community and resilience. We see it in the violence – verbal, written and physical – that seeks to silence the opinions of others. The result sadly, is division, conflict, and animosity, even between good people. And it solves little.

At the same time, we are losing the art of forgiveness. We dredge up things from someone’s past suggesting it defines them today – conveniently forgetting each of us is more than the worst we have done.

Some advocate the removal of faith from the public square. They do so unaware that true faith nurtures confession, repentance, and the potential for redemption and restoration. If we are to overcome the significant challenges we face, I am convinced we need to include faith.

As a spiritual leader I appreciate you might be sceptical. I am deeply aware the Church, in its various forms, has let our community down in so many ways. I know I speak for many when I say I’m sorry.

Churches are not exempt from the need for confession and repentance. We are always learning and relearning how to follow Jesus. His execution by the authorities of the day, which included the religious, was a brutal form of cancel culture. They did not like what he said so they silenced an innocent man.

We all can learn from his response. It was not resentment or rage, but a cry, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing”. We all need forgiveness. The resurrection of Jesus reveals God is willing to give it.

Love, acceptance and forgiveness. It’s what holds our lives and families, our communities and our future together. Every day, inconspicuously and unheralded, thousands of Tasmanians just ‘do it’. They don’t seek wealth, power, or fame, but quietly do what needs to be done: lending a hand, sharing a meal, volunteering at emergencies, caring for the forgotten, and courageously standing for what they believe.

It’s spiritual. It is what lights and sustains the fires of excitement, passion, vision and sacrifice.

It is the spiritual that will help us learn afresh how to respect one another, how to engage in civil dialogue, and how put aside our differences for the sake of the common good.

That’s why we come to pray.

Stephen Baxter, Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast 2021
Calvin Choir sing at the Tasmanian Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast 2021
Calvin Choir sing

READ MORE IN THE NOV/DEC 2021 ADVANCE | STEP BY STEP

ADVANCE | step by step – Sept/Oct 2021

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September/October 2021 No. 4

Released 21st October 2021

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September/October 2021 No. 3

Released 7th October 2021

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  • 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

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September/October 2021 No. 2

Released 23rd September 2021

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  • Anthea Maynard Q&A Interview
  • Baptist World Day of Prayer for Women
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September/October 2021 No. 1

Released 9th September 2021

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  • 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

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Bringing the Kingdom of God to Tasmania

Reengage | Reimagine | Realign
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mission-shaped:

It’s time to …

“Reengage Reimagine Realign”

What the newly adopted strategic plan might mean for us as Tasmanian Baptists

Seeing Tasmania infused with the salt and light

When Jesus taught about the kingdom of God (or kingdom of heaven in Matthew) it was more immediate and grander than just securing a place in heaven for people after death. The kingdom of God is the rule of God here on earth. It exists in part now and will exist in fullness when Jesus returns.

Jesus taught of something new entering into our broken world. His presence among us, along with his miracles and healings, was evidence of God’s rule coming to this planet. After his resurrection he charged his disciples with the responsibility of keeping the project going. Ever since, when the Church has been at its best, it has been an agent of this kingdom.

What we hope for

We acknowledge it “is not the church of God that has a mission, but the God of mission who has a church” [1]. God has a job for his church in Tasmania. As Tasmanian Baptists, we are committed to becoming a union of churches who willingly “lay aside our personal preferences for the sake of the community being served” [2].

It “is not the church of God that has a mission, but the God of mission who has a church”

Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury.

This is the heart of the new vision that we adopted at our May 2021 Assembly. It is to see “Tasmania infused with the salt and light of the kingdom of God.” We believe this is God’s hope for the state of Tasmania; it is our hope too.

The Church needs to adapt

The vision goes on to note that our contribution to the realisation of this vision will be through “facilitating and developing innovative, diverse, and transformative member churches and faith communities living out the Gospel.”

By stating this, we acknowledge how many in our communities do not consider the Church a place to go to for assistance with the issues they face. Our inherited form of being and doing Church needs to adapt to the changing world. This is not a something new for God’s Church. At many points during the past 2000 years, the Church has undergone renewal and reformation as the Spirit has remoulded it for successive generations.

Three key strategies: Reengage | Reimagine | Realign

With that in mind, the newly adopted strategic plan outlines three key strategies: to assist our churches and members to reengage in God’s mission, to reimagine the church for our time and to realign our resources (time, finances, buildings, organisational structure) towards these ends.

This is no mean feat and will not happen overnight. As I’ve said a bit lately, it took God weeks to get Israel out of Egypt, but 40 years to get Egypt out of Israel. Like Israel, we can fall into mourning the loss of the past, rather than embracing the opportunities God has before us. Yet this is the call of the journey of faith, to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us [by] fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith”[3].

“run with perseverance the race marked out for us [by] fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith”.

Hebrews 12:1b-2a

We live in a profound moment in the history of the world. In declaring Jesus is Lord, and praying that God’s kingdom may come, and that God’s will may be done in Tasmania as in heaven, we are not only aligning ourselves with God’s purposes in our world, but asking God to use us.

I trust you can say “Amen” to that.

Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter
Mission Director, Tasmanian Baptists
stephen@tasbaptists.org.au


[1] Former Archbishop Rowan Williams

[2] Church of England, charge for candidates for Pioneer Mission

[3] Hebrews 12:1b-2a

ADVANCE | step by step – Jul/Aug 2021

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
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My plan for your future has always been filled with hope

Based on Jeremiah 29:11

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HOPE. Across the globe this Covid-19 season, we hope like birds in cages.

We HOPE the virus will dissipate; that vaccinations will help; that loved ones are kept safe.

How important to remember Jeremiah’s words:
“God has plans to give us a HOPE and a FUTURE”.

Take hold of hope by joining the National Prayer Gathering for the Covid Situation on Tuesday 31 August. Find out more below.

This issue includes . . .
FROM THE MD: Stephen Baxter with treasures new and old
INTERVIEW: Liam Conway Ministry Apprentice at Hobart: he is a gift!
HOSPITALS IN PNG: Prayers answered to avoid closure (a gift of PPE)
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Jenna Blackwell wrestles with being a missionary in Tasmania
CHURCH PROFILE: LifeWay Devonport, now ministering in the South!
MERGE YOUTH: Citywide are kicking goals
REGIONAL ROUNDUP: City, Latrobe, Westbury, Claremont, Citywide and Hobart
NATIONAL PRAYER GATHERING: Nationwide prayer against COVID-19
CONVERGE CONFERENCE: Advocating to our government leaders
NEED TO KNOW (news):
GATEWAY turns 145! | EmpowHer Northwest walk | Request from Library Aid International | Tas Baptists’ website | Fostering Hope devotional-zoom | Australian Christian Literature Awards | Baptist Basketball Grand Final | Stand Sunday | Farewell PETER CUTHBERTSON | Ray’s Poem

You can read all these in the download-able version

Be blessed this week!

Jenny

Jenny Baxter, God's love poured in to you

Jenny Baxter
Communications Manager
Tasmanian Baptists
jenny@tasbaptists.org.au

Treasures New and Old

Treasures new and old
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comment:

From the Mission Director

Stephen Baxter

Treasures New and Old

After seven parables in succession, Jesus asked the disciples if they understood. When they replied, “Yes,” Jesus responds with a one-sentence-long parable.

“Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (Matt 13:52 NIV).

It’s a comment on his teaching of the Kingdom. Jesus explained how his teaching drew on the rich tradition of the Hebrews and the scriptures of the Hebrews, yet was also full of fresh, new insights that he brought.

EVERY TEACHER . . . brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old

Matthew 13:52

His teaching on God’s kingdom through the parables did not ignore or reject the past, rather he built upon them to explain how God rules in new and engaging ways.

And then . . .

To illustrate the point, Matthew explains what happened next. Having finished this teaching session in parables, Jesus journeyed to his hometown and taught in the synagogue. The people were astounded and wondered where all his wisdom and miraculous powers came from. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son,” they asked, “Isn’t his mother’s name Mary?”. (Matt 13:53-56 NIV)

No wonder Jesus resorted to parables. What he taught was just too hard for some people. The final verse of the chapter notes the outcome: Jesus “did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” (Matt 13:58 NIV)

Treasures New and Old

They thought they knew Jesus, but their familiarity was a stumbling block. Their inability or unwillingness to see it was an act of unbelief and they missed out. The “wisdom and miraculous powers” of Jesus promised them a new future but they were unable to receive it.

The Kingdom Comes

The heart of all Jesus taught was about the rule of God on earth. He taught his disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). Then, as they prayed, Jesus demonstrated what it looked like. The “blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Matt 11:5).

Every healing changed people’s future in an instant.

This was the kingdom coming and it made a profound difference. Every healing changed people’s future in an instant. And not just for themselves, but for the whole community. A healed leper, once shunned by family and community alike, could no longer be treated as an outcast. Their life, and the life of the community, was changed forever, and everyone needed to adjust to the change. Sure, the old familiar ways of living were there, but something new was in the air. Every healing was a small social revolution. Life could never be the same.

A Call to Believe

Treasures New and Old

Everything Jesus did and taught was a call to believe in the possibility of a new and open future for both individuals, and their communities. He called us to trust that things can change, newness can come, and inexplicable gifts will be given. Yet, the people of his hometown took offence. They settled for the familiar and dismissed the new, fresh kingdom transformation Jesus was bringing. Their “lack of faith” meant they missed out.

Your Choice – to be like Him

At the Tasmanian Baptist May Assembly this year we introduced, and received, a new strategic plan. Its key strategies of Reengage, Reimagine and Realign are a call to our churches, and everyone in them, to exercise our faith in Jesus. It is an invitation to trust in God’s goodness and power, and not be content with the familiar. God is not mute or impotent in the face of our current realities of decline, decay and death.

But do we believe it? Will we embrace the new things Jesus Christ is bringing into our world through his church? Like the people of Jesus’ hometown, we have a choice.

Our lack of faith will limit what God does in and through us, but it does not limit God. Despite the “unbelief” of his hometown, Jesus was not deterred. He went on to fulfil all that God called of him despite their lack of faith.

May we be found faithful in life and ministry, just as he was. And may we continue to listen to his treasures, new AND old.

Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter
Mission Leadership Director, Tasmanian Baptists
stephen@tasbaptists.org.au


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

Approaching 2021 with Love in our Hearts

From the MD - Approaching 2021
Mission Director Stephen Baxter reflects on the year ahead

Winners and Losers …

 … Or Something More Profound?

As we are approaching 2021, the 24-hour daily news cycle reminds us we live in unsettling, even dangerous, times. But perhaps we can come with some love in our hearts?

By Mission Director Stephen Baxter

Although somewhat removed in Tasmania, technology connects us to the rest of the world. Recent events in the USA, the increasing bully-like antics of China, and a small virus that continues to bring the world to a standstill, are reminders of the unique moment we are living in.

The relative peace experienced in much of the Western World over the past 50 years or so makes it all feel somewhat “unprecedented”. Recent McCrindle research1 reveals only 10% of those over 75 feel any long-term negative effects on their mental health due of Covid-19.

Yet, among those aged between 18-40, more than half feel the affect has been harmful. McCrindle suggests those over 75 have lived through similar times, like WWII, and have a resilience not known in younger generations.

No wonder the younger ones are struggling more than the older generations.

Stories make sense of the world

Global interconnectedness, which many hoped would usher in a world of increasing peace and harmony, has delivered something like the opposite. The world is full of anxiety and fear, and social media has intensified the rage and polarisation. Now, as we begin 2021, we want to be hopeful, yet it looks like this year will contain as much disruption as 2020, and perhaps more!

In times such as these there are always different stories competing for the hearts and imaginations of humanity, endeavouring to make sense of our lives.

One such story, fuelled by fear and inadequacy, is a tale of “winners and losers”.

Driven by a sense of scarcity, life is a competition and many take sides. The world is divided into oppressors and the oppressed, aggressors and victims. When one believes the path to peace, security and happiness comes by “winning”, violence is an inevitable outcome.

Jesus’ radical contrasts

Sadly, the church is not exempt from the temptation. We too can retreat into an “us and them” mentality built on assumptions of scarcity, competition, and opposition.

Jesus told a different story. He did not view the world through the lens of scarcity, as we can do when approaching 2021, but of abundance. Instead of winning, he talked about serving, stewardship, generosity and sharing where everyone is a winner–for there is enough for all. God, he taught, is a good God full of grace and provision who causes the rain to fall, and the sun to shine, upon all people, both good and evil.

Jesus did not divide the world into winners and losers. His vision for humanity was based on acceptance, grace, and forgiveness. He called every person to love their neighbour as themselves, and even to love their enemies! Life is not a competition fuelled by scarcity, but cooperative empowered by abundance.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 5:44 (NIV)

The result over the ensuing centuries was a slow, gentle revolution. As people believed in Jesus and lived by his teachings, the poor were healed and empowered, and society became more like the one Jesus envisaged. Life was not a competition, and people no longer lived as victims. As co-heirs with Christ, and willing agents in the spread of the Gospel, the world changed for the better.

Love in our hearts and grace on our lips

Society was transformed not through their compliant submission to those who “lorded it over them”, nor through violent revolution and revenge, but by their nonviolent resistance to scarcity, and “winning” through a life of service and self-giving, that transformed the world.

Let’s be Jesus’ agents. This is what our troubled and unsettled world of 2021 needs. Jesus still calls us to be agents of transformation and positive change in the world. His metaphors of salt, light, and yeast help us appreciate who we are called to be. We are those who do not believe life is a competition. We are those who do not withdraw from the world but are active agents within it.

As well, we are not activists, but respectful, welcoming, loving, patient neighbours to everyone, including our enemies and call them to come believe in and follow Jesus. We don’t set out to win but to bless. We set out with love in our hearts, and grace on our lips.

As we are approaching 2021, may the Spirit empower us all to be witnesses for Jesus in Tasmania.

Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter
Mission Director, Tasmanian Baptists
stephen@tasbaptists.org.au

1 Australia in the wake of COVID-19 – McCrindle, accessed January 26, 2021

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