Pastors & Leaders eNews - April 2024

Hi there, and welcome to the April edition of Insights eNews.

A couple of weeks ago we had that significant rain event drench a number of areas along the NSW coast. Dams spilled over, rivers rose, some homes were flooded and communities were reminded of the trauma many suffered in the last few years of natural disasters. Some of our churches were damaged, some Sunday services were temporary shifted online while cleaning up and repairing was done. Despite the damage, and sadly some tragic loss of life in the community, we’re grateful that the toll on local areas was not as bad as it had been in the past.

It reminded me of the power of being better together. In the last few years, in the face of significant disasters, our Baptist family rallied alongside other community and religious organisations. We coordinated fundraising, contributed towards emergency relief and arranged longer term support in funding community chaplains on the South Coast (after fires) and in the Northern Rivers & Western Districts (after floods). One of our longer-term initiatives included a narrative therapy initiative called The Strong Story Project in the Northern Rivers. It was run out of our Lismore church. You can read more about this impactful ministry in this edition of Insights eNews.

God calls us to reflect his heart of compassion, justice and mercy as we share the love of Jesus in word and deed. We’re grateful to those in the front line of serving our communities in this way.

This edition of Insights eNews includes a number of initiatives which also demonstrate what God can do when we partner together across our movement. Check out info on:

  • The Gathering (incorporating the Annual Assembly),
  • 4 x 4 Prayer opportunities for you,
  • May Mission Month – resources for your church,
  • Stories about some recent events and information about some upcoming ones,
  • … and much more

May God continue to work in and through you as you partner together in your churches, regions and across our movement.

Grae McWhirter
Associate Director, Strategic Support and Regional Development

You are invited to The Gathering Incorporating the 156th Annual Assembly! It will be a time to reflect on all that God is doing amongst us, to connect with others in our movement, to worship and to discern how Jesus is leading us as we work together to minister with one another and those around our world.

Dates: Friday & Saturday, 14 & 15 June 2024
Time: 10 am – 3:30 pm (sign-in from 9 am)

Main Venue
(Friday & Saturday, 14 & 15 June)
Auditorium, The Ministry and Learning Centre (The MALC)
5 Saunders Close, Macquarie Park NSW 2113

Additional Venues
(Friday & Saturday, 14 & 15 June)

Alstonville Baptist Church
Canberra Baptist Church
Mayfield Baptist Church
Molong District Baptist Church
Tamworth Baptist Church
Wagga Wagga Baptist Church
Wollongong Baptist Church*

*For the Wollongong venue: only Saturday is confirmed, register as per normal and you will be contacted if the Friday does not proceed. Check The Gathering website for updated information.

Documents for this Assembly will be posted on The Gathering website as they become available in the weeks ahead. Currently the nomination information sheets, forms and profile proformas for positions on the Assembly Council, Morling College Council and Baptist Churches of NSW Property Trust respectively can be found at the link below.

We look forward to seeing you at The Gathering Incorporating the 156th Annual Assembly! Use the link below to register!


Prayer Season
: Autumn (April to June)
Prayer Spotlight: Justice

During 2024 we are praying through four spotlights which align with our Association’s four vision pictures:
Summer: Health
Autumn: Justice
Winter: Leadership
Spring: Mission

God has a heart for justice. We know the call to us through the prophet Micah: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

And so, in this season a spotlight in our times of prayer will be asking God, that in our four spaces (as individuals, churches, regions and a whole movement) we will be transformational influences which impact those around us with the heart of God for justice, mercy and humility. We’ll particularly be remembering in prayer places and people who are oppressed, abused, disadvantaged and marginalised, and ask God to rescue and free them, and to do that where possible through us.

Please join us in two significant ways:

  1. 4 x 4 Autumn Prayer Calendar. This has already been distributed. BUT – if you missed it, please contact Grae McWhirter . If you want to make sure you are on the Prayer Calendar distribution list to receive future prayer calendars, simply fill out the sign-up form on our 4 x 4 Prayer page.
  2. Join us for our Autumn Online Prayer Gathering on Wednesday 15th May from 7.45pm to 8.30pm. You can register here.

Meanwhile, please continue to pray for yourself, your church, your region and our Baptist movement in NSW and ACT, that God would work in and through us as we move together in health, justice, leadership and mission towards 1000 churches in a generation.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

Welcome to our newly launched website! We have been tirelessly working to update our website to provide you smoother navigation,  improved functionality and a more user-friendly design. Some of the new features included in this update are:

  • An updated resources library with the ability to see the most popular resources accessed across the site and to also save resources and documents that you know that you access frequently
  • A new and improved custom events system which will help to smooth out the process of registering and staying up to date with Association events
  • Improved menus and interface to make navigating our site easier and faster
  • And much more!

We appreciate your continued support as we strive to deliver the best service possible to you and your churches!

May Mission Month is coming soon… And this year, the theme is Mending! No matter where we are, we can join God in mending a beautiful, broken world. We don’t bring healing in our strength—we are co-menders with God in Jesus Christ, our Healer and Saviour.

There are May Mission Month resources ready to help your church or small group explore:

  • The key themes of the Mending! series
  • How God is at work across the world through our teams and your partnership
  • How we can all join with our mending God in His restorative vision for communities near and far.

Let’s unite in partnership with our Baptist Mission Australia intercultural teams and get excited about all that God is doing through His people in Australia and beyond. We can only do it together!

Following the 2022 floods in the Northern Rivers, Lismore Baptist Church and other local Baptist churches, joined many others who were doing all they could to provide various kinds of emergency assistance to people who, in some cases, had lost everything.

Now 2 years later, for many people, the future is still very uncertain, especially regarding housing, which is such a basic human need. The trauma and uncertainty continue to take a toll.

That’s where the Strong Story Project aimed to make at least a small difference. Sarita Barnett is a trained narrative therapist, and in 2023 she invited people affected by the floods to tell their story. As you would expect, these stories revealed much pain and grief, but the process also highlighted how people came together and used their strengths and skills to get through hard times.

Word has just come through that a book telling these stories, titled ‘Strong Together’ is complete and has been sent off for printing! We are aiming at a book launch on the weekend of 4th or 5th May in Lismore, where community members will be invited, and copies of the book will be given to participants and those willing to display it or distribute it to those who may benefit.

Please pray with us that as the stories are shared through this coffee-table style book, many more people will benefit from the rich knowledge and ideas, the resilience and hope that are contained within. They are a reminder that no matter what you are going through, you are not alone and there is hope.

If you would like to know more, look out for the upcoming article in OurStory, or you can email Sarita or Steve Hales (Disaster Recovery Coordinator, Northern Rivers).

State Kids Camp 2024 is coming up in the first week of the July school holidays!  Camp will be packed full of fun, new friends, and peak faith experiences.  If you know someone in Years 4-7 at school, we’d love them to join in at Kiah Ridge for this two-night, three-day, memory making camp.

Throughout camp we’ll be exploring Psalm 23.  God is our Good Shepherd – he provides, guides, stays close and loves us!  Camp will be packed full of interactive hands-on Bible learning, content creation, awesome activities and much more!

Visit https://baptistcfm.org.au/state-kids-camp/ for more info and to register.

Already 6 Connect events have happened across NSW as far North as Alstonville and South to Wagga – but there’s more to come! At least 4 regions on May18: Mid North Coast, Sydney Southwest, Transform Southern Sydney and the Canberra Region. The insights from our keynote speaker Mark McCrindle have been greatly appreciated. Alongside this are excellent workshops, delicious food and the opportunity to strengthen teams and connections across regions, particularly for those ministering with young people and children. Head to our website for more information, dates and registration details.

Some feedback from those who have already attended in 2024:

“My youth team got so much out of this day and having shared language across ministry teams will be a game changer for our church.”

“As an SRE teacher I found Mark’s talk helped me understand what is happening for Gen Alpha.”

“The workshop on questions was SO helpful!”

“How good was that food!”

Don’t miss out on seeing your ministry teams equipped, connected and encouraged.

On Saturday the 6th of April we held our special State Youth Camp 10 Year Gala Dinner to Celebrate the 10 Years of SYC. It was a great night hearing stories and looking at highlights from the last nine years. Did you know, since 2015, there have been:
  • 89 Baptist churches in our movement who have been involved in camp,
  • 110 staff, speakers, workshop presenters and volunteers serving on camp, and
  • a staggering 1351 youth and young leaders who have attended camp, some of whom have been on camp numerous times.
We are looking forward to SYC24!Our theme is Hold Tight with the key verse we would like to teach the youth being – ‘Let us hold unswervingly (tightly) to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.’ (Hebrews 10:23)SYC24 will be a real Celebration of what God has done with SYC over the last 10 years and what He has done with each person at camp over this time. Over the weekend our speakers will be unpacking our theme answering questions such as:
  • How do you start holding tight to God?
  • What does God give us to keep us holding on to him?
  • How do you discern and hold tight to the journey God has for you, exploring things like calling and spiritual gifting?
  • How do you hold tight when we feel too young, too scared or it feels too hard?
How do we hold tight? Well, as it says in Hebrews 10:23, we can because ‘he who promised is faithful.’We want everyone on camp to be involved in celebrating this 10 Year milestone SYC has reached, so we’re going to be bringing back some of our much-loved activities, worship songs, and village vibes. It’s going to be a big year and we can’t wait to get back on the ground in September to see this all come together.Registrations for SYC24 are open NOW! To register your Youth Group using the link below

State Youth Camp also couldn’t exist without the number of volunteers who help on camp. If you’d like to volunteer to help on camp or during the set-up or pack-down head to the link above to register as well.For more information contact Jo at syc@nswactbaptists.org.au


The Simple Church Taster 2024 was a cross cultural, cross-state, cross-global, and cross-denominational event with 62 people registered to attend. We welcomed people from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds ranging from Korean, Filipino, Russian, Malaysian and Chinese as well as our First Nations leaders. We also had participants join us from Victoria, Queensland and South Australia and even further with some joining us from the Philippines and the United States. We also broke denominational barriers, with attendees coming from Presbyterian, Anglican, and Methodist backgrounds, all of whom we were happy to serve.

Most attendees were new to the concept of Simple Churches, with senior pastors/leaders from local churches and regional churches seeking insights into Missional churches and revitalization. Some leaders preparing for church planting explored Simple Church models. People had so much interest and active questions.

Bree Mills’ teaching was a stand-out, inspiring everyone from the explorers to seasoned practitioners. Bree conveyed her passion, experience and solid knowledge from her background as a Simple/Micro Church movement leader.

We pray and hope that many people and groups join the upcoming Simple Church Foundations on June 4th to be equipped further in the next steps to start their own Simple Churches. Additionally, the Church Multiplication team anticipates more registrations for the FORM Conference and Simple Church Network Day at Youthworks stemming from connections made at this Taster.

‘Our Story’ is where we share stories of our wider Baptist movement; stories from our journey towards our goal of becoming a movement of 1,000 healthy churches in a generation, stories of how Baptist Churches in NSW & ACT are navigating key issues, and stories from our affiliated groups.

Sharing stories is vital so that we can learn from each other, be encouraged to persevere in our ministries, and witness how God is working amongst his Church. We hope that Our Story will be an inspiration for you and your church.

Explore Community Church is one of our new Church Plants in the Northern Rivers built around the values of being biblically grounded, missionally focused and culturally inviting. Discover their story and how they are making it easier for people to meet Jesus in Lennox Head.

If you have a story about how your ministry, church, or region is stepping into the Gen1K vision send an email to hello@nswactbaptists.org.au with more details.

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