Pastors & Leaders eNews - May 2024

Welcome to May’s edition of Insights eNews.

I wonder how much mending clothes is a lost art? It seems that in times gone by it was common for someone in a family to have the almost mystical skills to take a sleeve with a worn-out elbow, or a garment with a hole in it, and return them mended and looking as good as new! I’m sure there are still some people who can do just that – but perhaps less than there used to be!

For many years May, in our churches, has been “May Mission Month”. It has been a time our churches partner with Baptist Mission Australia to focus on God’s heart for mission, his love for peoples of all nations and our call to join him in declaring the Lordship of Jesus across the globe.

This year Baptist Mission Australia’s Mission Month theme is “Mending”. It is an invitation for us to join in Christ’s healing and renewing work in his world. In many places this sort of mending may have become a bit of a lost art! This month we have the chance to renew our commitment, personally, in our churches, regions and movement, to be part of God’s mending work in our communities and across the globe. I hope you take the chance to engage with BMA this month, their message of “mending” and the resources they have available to encourage us to be fellow-menders. Take a look at the article in this edition to learn more about BMA’s May Mission Month.

In addition to info on May Mission Month, in this edition you’ll find:

  • all the latest about the upcoming Gathering (incorporating the Annual Assembly),
  • some opportunities to engage in and pray about some issues of justice,
  • info about Baptist World Aid’s matching grant appeal,
  • stories about some recent events and information about some upcoming ones,
  • … and much more

Thanks for your ongoing partnership in the Gospel,

Grae McWhirter
Associate Director / Strategic Support and Regional Development

(Correction: in the April edition of Insights eNews, we incorrectly said that the Northern Rivers Narrative Project was run out of Alstonville Baptist. This project supporting people impacted by the 2022 floods, was run from Lismore Baptist Church and supported by that church community. Our apologies.)

We are now under one month away from The Gathering Incorporating the Annual Assembly! Don’t miss out as we 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 to one another and those around us.

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

Main Venue
Auditorium, The Ministry and Learning Centre (The MALC)
5 Saunders Close, Macquarie Park NSW 2113

Additional Venues
Alstonville Baptist Church
Canberra Baptist Church
Mayfield Baptist Church
Molong District Baptist Church
Tamworth Baptist Church
Wagga Wagga Baptist Church
Wollongong Baptist Church (Saturday only)

Our guest speakers at this assembly:

Friday 14 June – Mark Wilson, National Ministries Director of Australian Baptist Ministries

Rev. Mark Wilson is the National Ministries Director for Australian Baptist Ministries, providing servant leadership through positively empowering, influencing and working with the six Baptist State Leaders and the CEOs of the five National Affiliated Ministries. Mark’s key staff are the Directors of Crossover and A Just Cause, which are ministries of ABM. He is the President of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation made up of 65 Unions with 40,000 churches in 22 countries. Mark is a member of the Baptist World Alliance Executive Committee, and he serves on numerous not-for-profit Christian Boards and holds degrees in Theology, Education and Leadership.

Being a visionary leader and communicator, Mark speaks to numerous gatherings in Australia and around the world each year. Using his unique abilities, he is committed to training, coaching and mentoring people to reach their full potential in Christ. He does this by combining life experience, and Biblical truth.

With over 37 years’ experience in both local church and denominational leadership, Mark has great insight into the needs of people from all walks of life. His genuine concern for people is displayed in the value he places on each individual and his desire to see them achieve their goals in life and ministry.

Mark enjoys hiking, adventure motorbike riding and is a member of West Coast Eagles Football Club. Together with his wife Rev. Karen (President Baptist World Alliance Women), they enjoy a very active lifestyle, taking every opportunity that comes their way. He has two adult married children and two grandchildren.

Saturday – Jamie & Kirsten Long, Pastors of Epping Baptist Church

Jamie and Kirsten Long have been serving together for almost 30 years. They recently joined the Pastoral Team at Epping Baptist Church after serving at Wyong for almost 15 years. They are both passionate about seeing churches and people of all generations thrive as they follow Jesus. Kirsten and Jamie have four young-adult children and are kept active and amused by their border collie, Tosh.

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

May Mission Month is well underway for 2024! 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 Savior. Let’s unite in partnership with Baptist Mission Australia’s intercultural teams and get excited about all that God is doing through His people in neighbourhoods near and far. We can only do it together!

Here’s a story of mending from our friends at Baptist Mission Australia’s South-East Asia team!

‘Frank’ had lost hope. His wife had recently died. He was left with two young children. He couldn’t find adequate employment to care for his children. Earning minimal income through casual work, he and his children ate only twice a day – usually just rice.

One of the local leaders in the education foundation heard about Frank and his difficult situation from her sister. She contacted Frank and invited him to apply for a job as a caretaker at one of our education sites. He now earns enough to provide nutritious food for his children and pay for their school needs. He now has medical insurance through the foundation and a retirement fund.

When Frank received his first work pay, the team told me he literally fell to the ground weeping and expressing gratitude over and over. Born into the majority faith group, he now participates in a weekly small group that learns from God’s Word. His life is being radically changed.

The local staff recently surprised him with a birthday cake. It was the first time in his life anyone had ever celebrated his birthday. Frank broke into tears again! Let’s be praying as God’s Spirit works in Frank’s life, the foundation staff and our South East Asia team.

Frank is loved by our mending God, and I pray for his continuing journey towards Jesus and understanding the good news in ways that make sense to him.

I am reminded that God’s mending activity begins in my own heart and mind – as God’s Spirit beckons me to courageously co-operate with His renewing, cultivating work. The Spirit desires to shape all of us into people who more and more, look, live, lead and love like Jesus. This way we become more authentic and credible witnesses for Jesus in the places we are called to serve.

And what a privilege it is – to rub shoulders with others – seeking to be the hands and feet of Jesus, being used by our mending God to bring love, hope, care and kindness to others – to people like Frank, yearning for change in their lives!”

Let’s continue to partner in mission together to be co-menders with God and each other to those around us! To find out more about May Mission Month check out their website using the link below.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before! To gather with other pastors serving in areas like mine was awesome!” LeadUp 24 participant.

May 6-7th saw almost 40 pastors from NSW & ACT gather at Kiah Ridge for LeadUp (a space for annual training & connection for those serving in staff teams in Baptist Churches but who are not the senior or lead pastor).

The theme for 2024 was “Futureproofing” and saw Richard Black from ‘Mind Health’ in New Zealand, along with Baptist Association staff providing great insights into such topics as: Futureproofing your leadership; Futureproofing your soul; Futureproofing the team; and Futureproofing the mission.

Whilst the competition was fierce, Zak Feacher from New Vine Maryland Church became our inaugural ‘LeadUp Legend’ after dominating the Battlemania activity on the Monday night.

In the midst of engaging content, fun activities and lots of coffee, a genuine highlight expressed by many participants was the space to forge and foster great relational connections.

We’re already looking forward to LeadUp 2025!

We have two areas in this edition to bring to your attention for support and prayer:

Domestic and Family Violence – This is a key issue in our community at the moment, and one which we, as followers of Jesus, should be attending to. We have two significant resources in this space which are available for you and your church to engage in:

1) Safer Spaces Toolkit which is a national Baptist initiative, and

2) Common Grace’s resources which you can find here.

Reconciliation Week (May 27 – June 3)‘Reconciliation through the cross’ is Common Grace’s campaign to raise awareness and highlight the important responsibility we have in deeply listening and taking action together to see the mending and flourishing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We hope you’ll be able to utilise these resources as you seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

Safe Church Team Network Evening – 21st May 2024 7-9:30pm – In person at Macquarie Park or online via Zoom

Domestic and Family Violence has been at the forefront of our social consciousness recently. Our community leaders have described it as a national emergency. The church must respond with the love of Christ and being places of support. We invite church pastors, leaders and Safe Church Team members to join us on 21st May as we consider how to address domestic and family violence in our communities. This event will be facilitated by Carolyn Cousins who has extensive expertise in this area. It will also include representatives from NSW Police talking about the new coercive control laws to take effect in July 2024. We’ll also have other legal and pastoral specialists involved. Please plan to be there! To register or get more information, click HERE.

Advanced Creating Safe Spaces

Are you committed to providing a safe place for all people in your church? Would you like to develop skills and grow in confidence in managing this important aspect of ministry? Would you like to do that with other pastors and leaders across our movement, benefitting from a learning experience together?

In July and August this year, Jonathan Bradford (our Standards Manager) will be hosting Advanced Creating Safe Spaces Training. This training for pastors, leaders, and Safe Church Teams is designed to supplement the Creating Safe Spaces workshops conducted by the Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT to further develop understanding of safe church practices. We will hear from industry and ministry leaders with experience in child protection, risk management, leadership, and church culture. The training also provides an opportunity to discuss and formulate plans of action for scenarios that could arise within your church. The purpose of these is to build skills and confidence in managing them and giving awareness of resources available to support you. The training is run over two days (2 weeks apart) with both in person and online options available. The cost ranges from $80 to $120, with free tickets for subsequent registrations from the same church. For more information and to book, please visit the website HERE.

We look forward to seeing you at ACSS!

Applications are open for our 2025 IMPACT Gap Year cohort. IMPACT is a year-long program for young adults, that aims to grow them in the areas of faith, self, community and ministry. It’s a great opportunity for young people to spend a year exploring their faith and their future in a safe, supportive environment. We offer regular one-on-one and group coaching, ministry experiences, theological study, and personal development skills. If you know a 17-23 year old who might be interested, there is an open night on June 6. Why not take the opportunity to have the conversation with them now and invite them along to open night to learn more. Register using the link below!

Over 500 young people from over 20 churches over 4 days – That is State Youth Camp! And it needs you​​​​​​​!!!

2024 is the 10th Year of State Youth Camp!

We need your young adults. We need your retirees. We need anyone and everyone in your church or your network who loves young people and can spare a few hours or the entire weekend to serve the youth and their leaders at State Youth Camp!

Camp runs from the 27th-30th of September at Cataract Scout Park, Appin, and we will have people on the ground from the 23rd-30th of September to set up and pack down the camp site.

We need everything from prayer warriors to lights and AV support. Site safety, first aid and ushers. We need baristas and donut makers. Activities support and just plain ol’ “stick me wherever you need me” volunteers. We especially need people who can help set-up camp on Tuesday 23rd to Friday 27th of September & pack-down camp on Monday 30th of September. Even if you can just give a couple of hours, a day or a few days to help make camp happen, we’d really appreciate your help.


Insights Online – Pixels to Pews: Maximising your Church’s Online Impact
Wednesday 22nd May, 1-2pm

One of the biggest changes over the past 20 years is that ‘the front door’ of your church is no longer the front door. Long before people enter your physical building, most will have: visited your website; watched you online; checked out your Google Reviews; and stalked you on Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms.

So how do you make these digital spaces clear, compelling and inviting?

Jodie McEwen is the founder & CEO of ‘The Marketing Side’ which empowers businesses, churches and not-for-profits in the area of communication – particularly in digital spaces. Jodie served as Communications Pastor at New Vine Church (one of our Baptist churches in the Hunter Region) and continues to worship there.

Insights was originally started to provide a weekly online update to pastors and leaders during the COVID pandemic. When COVID restrictions concluded, Insights transitioned into a monthly leadership development experience. With the Association now facilitating significantly more training options, we’ve decided to move Insights to every second month. To check out the training options on offer, click here.

If you are a Baptist leader do not miss this opportunity to invest in your leadership development. Be intentional in setting aside time to fellowship and grow with other Baptist leaders as we journey together to our Gen1K Goal of 1000 Healthy Churches in a Generation.

Use the link below to register for our ‘Insights Monthly Online Gathering’ on May 22nd at 1:00 pm.

We’ve been inspired by Isaiah 61 and God’s infinite kindness to those who are suffering. Amid the seeming chaos and strife of our broken world, it’s so encouraging to remember that God is always at work proclaiming good news, mending the broken hearted, and exchanging hardship with flourishing. And the extraordinary thing is that he invites us to partner with him. What an immense privilege and responsibility we have, to share God’s goodness with the most vulnerable.  

Will you support the work of Baptist World Aid before the end of the financial year by praying with us?  

Pray that our supporters would give generously to the Matching Grant Appeal, so that we can continue the important work that allows people to change the course of their own lives.  

Pray for generosity in churches across Australia as they respond to the story of Lota, a woman in Bangladesh who went from living a life full of hardships, to a life of flourishing and independence. 

Pray that the Australian Government would continue to respond generously to our global neighbours by growing international humanitarian aid for communities in need. 

Pray for our local Christian Partners, particularly those who receive support from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).  Pray that their programs would be effective in bringing fullness of life to vulnerable communities.  

Thank you for your support – we simply couldn’t do this important work without it. To find out more about the Matching Grant Appeal and how churches can be involved, click on our 2024 FAQ document here. 


‘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.

Narrabeen Baptist Church is in their third generation of children’s ministry. It has taken many different forms over the years, and recently has been broadening to engage the whole family, not just the children. Find out more about how they are taking their children’s ministry in exciting directions using the link below!

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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