It is this commonality and a passion to see the Kingdom of God expand that brought Baptist churches together 150 years ago. They knew that in order to serve Christ, to make him known and to live out the great commission in NSW that they had to work together. And for 150 years we have done exactly that.
In the early days of the Association, prayer was a central focus. The small group of churches fell to their knees and cried out to God to empower them to follow His calling boldly. This prayer bore fruit and the number of churches grew. Church planting was key to the growth in numbers, a vision that continues through to today. The Association is currently prayerfully pursuing a goal to become a movement of 1000 healthy Baptist churches in the next generation – primarily through revitalisation, evangelism and church planting.
Growth came in fits and starts in the early days of the movement, but as the 20th Century approached a new sense of optimism and commitment to Home Mission emerged. Combined with clear strategy and more adequate resources, many new churches and preaching stations were commenced.
With this philosophy of ministry permeating the culture of the Baptist movement, significant social justice, mission and aid ministry was birthed from the local church. Baptist World Aid Australia began out of Frenchs Forest Baptist Church, growing into one of Australia’s largest and most dynamic faith-based international aid agencies and significantly impacting communities across the world through advocacy, aid, development and education.
BaptistCare, a ministry originally called the NSW Baptist Homes Trust, was established to provide housing for the aged. Through this and various other ministries including HopeStreet it offers support, care and compassion to street workers, the homeless and survivors of domestic violence as well as numerous partnerships with local churches to provide services to those in the community with significant needs.
NSW & ACT Baptists have invested heavily in global mission, especially through its national Baptist mission agency Global Interaction. One of the key areas of cross-cultural mission focus was the highlands of Papua New Guinea. An unreached people group up until the middle of the 20th century, in the decades following World War II the gospel was carried into the region and God worked powerfully to the extent that now this region has an extensive Christian community.
The growth of the number of churches in the Association led to a need for equipped leaders to pastor churches and disciple new believers. Morling Theological and Bible College began with a goal to raise up, equip and release ministry leaders into churches. The college recently celebrated its 100th year of serving the Baptist movement (and other denominations) and continues to grow and respond to the changing needs of ministry in the 21st century.
Whether it is the establishment of training institutions such as Bedford College or Christian camping facilities such as Kiah Ridge the Gospel and the kingdom of God has always been the primary focus of the Association. This desire saw the Association undertake significant cultural and structural changes in 2012 to position itself for a new season of fruitful ministry, building on the same foundational principles that began the Association over 150 years ago.
Over this time, God has continually strengthened and led the Association of churches and we are humbled to be part of His continued work in His world into the future.