Pastors & Leaders eNews - October 2020

Hi Pastors and Leaders,

Welcome to the October 2020 edition of the Pastors e-News.

Congratulations on getting this far through the year! There isn’t too long to go and 2020 will, thankfully for most, be history. However, we are keenly aware that the Christmas season brings great opportunity, but also significant uncertainty for leaders and churches. How will we manage to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the current circumstances?

We are grateful that in NSW and Victoria, the spread of COVID-19 continues to decline. This means that restrictions and guidelines set by the government continue to be under review and that new announcements are not uncommon. We want to assure all our leaders and churches that the Association team is in frequent communication with the NSW government and being briefed by the Department of Health. We continue to ask the government to consider the specific needs of faith communities, alongside our brothers and sisters from different religious organisations. We are committed to sharing with our movement the way that new announcements are relevant to our family of churches as soon as we are able. As we present our needs to the government, we encourage all our churches to continue to act with grace and collaboration as together we seek to meet the needs of our faith communities and contribute to the safety of the wider community, especially those who are vulnerable.

In this light, we will continue to listen for announcements which might be relevant to Christmas celebrations amongst our churches. Meanwhile, check the suggestions and resources in this e-News regarding ways to have a COVID safe Christmas as we continue to share the Good News of Jesus within our communities. This was the topic of our most recent Pastors Q&A.

The team at the Ministry Centre remains committed to supporting and serving you as you continue to lead our family of churches. As you do, I pray that this season will be one of ongoing fruitfulness, faithfulness and refreshment.

Colossians 4:2-6


Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. …  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

 

Grae McWhirter
Team Leader: Gen1K Leadership Development Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT
and Regional Minister: Southern Sydney (Transform Southern Sydney)
P: 98689242 / M: 0425287910

Annual Assembly - 31st October

 

You are invited to be part of the 152nd Annual Assembly Meeting to be held on 31 October 2020!

Our Assemblies are a place to reflect on what God is doing in our midst, connect with others in our movement and glimpse how Jesus is leading us in our collective ministry in this world.

We recognise that our 2020 Annual Assembly will look different this year, given the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in with COVID-19. However, our hope is that this Assembly will be an opportunity to celebrate the ministry of our movement in 2019, and to look to the future with the affirmation of the next season in our Association’s strategic plan, the ongoing outworking of our Gen1K Vision. It will also ask for your discernment and affirmation of God’s leading for several elected positions, further discuss some significant matters and to keep you up-to-date with important activities.

Because this year has been anything but ordinary and we are doing our best to make sure the Annual Assembly is safely accessible across all our regions. Just this week we launched a new venue in the North West at Tamworth Baptist Church taking us to SIX additional venues!! That way you can get involved with a meeting near you. Find out more here.

WHEN: Saturday 31 October 2020, 9.30am (sign in available from 8:30am) The program will commence at 9:30am with Worship and Prayer. Lunch will be provided following the Assembly for a cost of $15 at the Sydney venues.
Accreditation Service, 3:00pm (Macquarie Park venue only – reserved for family and friends of accreditands. Will also be livestreamed)

Who is able to attend Assembly?
Everyone who is in fellowship with our churches is invited to come and be part of our Assembly. Please let us know in advance who will be the official voting church representatives from your church and any other attendees from your church who intend to be there. Due to COVID-19, 

The Constitution allows for 2 voting church representatives regardless of affiliated church size, plus an additional voting church representative for each 50 members (or portion of 50 members) after the first 50. This is in additional to any Accredited Ministers or non-Accredited Lead Pastors registering from your church. Church representatives and Alternative Church representatives must register before Friday 23 October 2020 to vote, as per the Constitution. Accredited ministers, non-accredited lead pastors, other members of Assembly and non-voting attendees can continue to register until 31 October 2020.

 

Livestreaming
We recognise that during this season, some may feel uncomfortable attending large group gatherings. Our 2020 Annual Assembly will be livestreamed over the internet for those unable to attend an Assembly Venue in person and/or are unable to travel to one of the available locations. Please note, however that this is viewing access only and voting will not be possible. Click here to view the livestream from 9am on 31st October. 

 

FIND OUT MORE 

Live Q&A: Christmas Resources & Carols in Your Backyard

 During our latest Live Q&A session, we looked at Have a very COVID Christmas: In what ways can we hold Carols, Christmas services, holiday clubs and other events during current restrictions? What resources are around to help? We are keenly aware that the Christmas season this year will look different to how it has in the past and we were highly encouraged by the enthusiasm the pastors and leaders had for finding new ways to share the message and hope of Jesus this Christmas.

Throughout this session there were several key resources that are available for adaptation within your local church. These can be viewed below.  We also polled our attendees to find out more about what they are planning for this season. To view the polls from all Live Q&A sessions click here

 

Christmas Resources

  • The Kids and Families team have curated loads of ideas for sharing the hope of Jesus with your community and all generations in your church – check it out here
  • Marc Rader and Gymea Baptist Church are making a Carols in Your Backyard resource available for use in your church. Visit their website to find out more and contact office@gymeabaptist.org.au.

  • Baptist World Aid Australia have 3 ways your church can support the work they are doing this Christmas;
    • Disaster Support in Lebanon – Save lives. Give emergency food, water, healthcare, and livelihoods support to survivors of the Beirut explosion.
    • Ethical Fashion Guide – Register now to be the first to know how your favourite brands fared when we release the COVID Fashion Report and COVID Fashion Guide later this month!
    • Sponsor a Child – your sponsorship will help equip the most vulnerable communities with the knowledge and resilience to cope with crises like the coronavirus
  • Crossover has created a great new video for Christmas that churches can use to spread the message of hope that comes from the birth of Jesus. More resources will be available on their website shortly. If you want an overview of what is in-store, you can rewatch the video we shared during the session.

2020 Christmas Resources from Crossover from Crossover on Vimeo.

Forming Church Podcast - New Episode this Thursday

Three weeks ago we launched Forming Church Podcast and we have been completely blown away by the response! We spent 4 days as the number 3 Australian ‘Religion & Spirituality’ podcast if you haven’t listened to it yet, don’t miss out!

Forming Church is all about exploring what church planting, mission and evangelism could look like in our rapidly changing world. We want to create content that generates learning and conversation around these areas, while resourcing the next generation of planters, urban missionaries and followers of Jesus in contemporary Australian contexts.

The podcast is being produced by the Baptist Association of NSW & ACT in collaboration with Lead by Story, and will be hosted by Will Small and Benj Gould, who currently host Inhabit podcast — a conversation about forming habits to help us follow Jesus. After each episode Jamie Freeman will sit down with a few friends and unpack what we’ve just heard, sharing insights and dreaming about what Forming Church could look like across Australia.

 

 

  Benj & Will

  Host

  The podcast is hosted by Will Small and Benj Gould. Will is a poet, speaker,
podcaster, founder of Lead by Story and pastor of Meeting Ground. 

  Benj Gould heads up Greenhouse Church in Long Jetty and host Inhabit
  podcast alongside Will.

 

  

  Jamie Freeman

  Round Table Host

  Jamie Freeman heads up the Gen1K Mission team for the Baptist Association
of NSW & ACT. He planted H3O Church and served churches in the UK and
Australia. Jamie now spends his time working with the Gen1K Mission Team
to mobilise new communities and expressions of church as we become a
movement of a thousand healthy churches in a generation.


 

Pip Miner & Ken Kamau

  Round Table

  Pip spent time on the ground in South-East Asia, now working with Global
Interaction as a Partnership Consultant and Gordon Baptist Church pioneering
new ways to create community and foster cultures of multiplication.

Ken has served in the Nairobi Chapel family of churches, leading Kileleshwa
Covenant Community Church (K3C) through a revitalisation journey where
they planted another 5 congregations across the city.

Bushfire Recovery in Bilpin and a bit of Christmas Cheer

Christmas may be a few months away, but Kurrajong Baptist Church brought Christmas-in-July cheer to bushfire affected residents in Bilpin, NSW earlier this year. Since the bushfire season of late 2019/early 2020, Kurrajong Baptist Church has been supporting residents in the Bilpin area to clear damaged trees from their properties, connect with local council, clean up their land, work out accommodation, get utilities up and running, and more.

As July approached, Pastor Stephen Kearns and the leadership of Kurrajong Baptist Church recognized that residents in the area hadn’t had a good Christmas season. They were busy defending their homes from the fires, evacuating, and living in fear of what the fire season was going to bring. When Covid restrictions lifted, Kurrajong Baptist Church worked with the local bowling club and other community groups to bring a Christmas-in-July event to residents of Bilpin who had been affected by the fires. The event included a dinner and entertainment as Pastor Kearns recognized the importance of laughter to the healing process. He wanted an event where people didn’t have to think about the fires but could enjoy themselves with their neighbours. The invitation read, “A little gift to remind you that you are pretty special” and that’s just what attendees felt that evening.

Kurrajong Baptist Church also received gift donations, which they wrapped and arranged to be handed out at the local primary school surprising children with a bit of Christmas cheer as well. Bushfire recovery work in Bilpin and other areas of the mountains continues with Kurrajong Baptist receiving a grant to cover some of the expenses of the Christmas-in-July dinner and to have a coffee cart present at the local primary school for parents to connect and receive assistance to access local services.

By being a faithful presence in the community, Kurrajong Baptist Church and Pastor Kearns have built trust with local residents and have been able to find out where there are needs that they can fill. We thank Kurrajong Baptist for its incredible work and we thank everyone who donated to the Bushfire Relief Fund.

SYC Internship Coming in 2021! - Application Close Nov 13

Want to invest in your youth ministry?
Want to grow your youth leaders?
Is there someone in your church eager for more leadership opportunities?
Check out the State Youth Camp Internship!

 

The State Youth Camp Internship is a 1-year program for those who are passionate about youth ministry. It is designed to equip for leadership, invest in your youth ministry and provide opportunities for further growth. It functions as a 3-way partnership between Baptist Youth Ministries, the intern and your church.

  • For youth leaders, this internship will…
  • Build understanding of God, of young people and themself.
  • Provide opportunity to connect with different pastors and leaders across NSW churches, serve in new ways and explore their gifts.
  • Invest in abilities through mentoring, reflective practice and engagement in ministry events.
  • Release for ministry to keep serving those God has called your youth leaders to!

Interested? E-mail Emma at ependleton@nswactbaptists.org.au or go to stateyouthcamp.org.au/internship/ for more information.

FIND OUT MORE

This internship will…

Build Your Understanding of

 

  • Biblical perspectives and teaching for young people
  • Discipleship and discipleship frameworks
  • Caring for young people
  • Running effective small groups
  • How to write and share your testimony
  • Personal development as a disciple and a leader
  • A biblical approach to leadership and leading others

Provide Opportunity to

  • Have new learning experiences from a variety of Christian leaders about a range of perspectives and topics. This will happen through engagement with Morling College’s IMPACT classes, Building a Discipleship Culture (BDC), BYM State Conference and Tuesday Teaching Days.
  • Explore gifting, abilities, and calling through teaching, reflection and practical serving experience
  • Be mentored and invested in by Christian leaders
  • Engage with Baptist Association Staff, the BYM team and the National Baptist Youth Ministry Network

Invest in the Your Abilities which

  • Allows ideas and convictions to be been reflected on and expanded upon
  • Develops particular ministry/leadership skills
  • Broadens relational links
  • Builds confidence in discipling and leading others
  • Allows time to reflect on personal and spiritual growth while being equipped to continue doing so.

Release You for Ministry through

  • Receiving a certificate of completion for both the SYC internship and Morling College’s IMPACT course
  • Joining the SYC Internship Alumni for future connections and ministry opportunities
  • Potential ongoing volunteer serving opportunities in the SYC Team
  • Optional peer mentoring of future SYC Interns
  • Continuing with BDC post internship

FIND OUT MORE

 

Building Teams for 2021: How can I re-engage my ministry volunteers and develop leaders for a new normal? - Register for our next Live Q&A - 4/11

Over the past few months we have developed a healthy rhythm of meeting together as leaders within our movement and sharing updates on the current COVID-19 situation. This time together have been instrumental in sharing stories from across our movement and spending time in prayer with each other. If you have not yet joined in on one of these sessions why not set aside some time and make next wednesday’s session a part of your fortnightly rhythm.

Want to know what the next Live Q&A Sessions will focus on?
We’ve laid out a roadmap for the next few month’s Live Q&A’s. It might be good to bring certain team members in for sessions that are relevant to their roles!

  • Building Teams for 2021: How can I re-engage my ministry volunteers and develop leaders for a new normal? (4/11)
  • The blessing of regional engagement: How can I connect and collaborate with others in my area in ways where I am encouraged and can be an encouragement? (18/11)

The feedback we have recieved from Pastors and Leaders as they have engaged with these sessions has been highly encouraging. For many this has been the first time that the reality of Greater Together has hit home.

If you have missed a session or you would like to register, please visit https://nswactbaptists.org.au/project/live-qa-recordings/ We also record the data we capture each week and this can be viewed here as well.

 

 

Safe Church Health Check update

 

Safe Church Health Check update

We are very encouraged by the number of churches engaging with the Safe Church Health Check. More than ten churches have already submitted applications and many more are working through their applications. Engagement has been spread across a diverse range of churches in our movement, including suburban, regional, simple, small, large and CALD churches. Some regional ministers have arranged meetings to discuss Safe Church issues and facilitate churches sharing resources and ideas as they address the Safe Church Health Check.

If you have not yet completed a Safe Church Health Check application please go to www.creatingsafespaces.org.au/schc for more information.

Creating Safe Spaces Training – Available online!

COVID-19 has had some impacts on how we operate Creating Safe Spaces courses and the implementation of Safe Church Health Check within your church. In the context of restrictions on meeting in person, the important work of Safe Church training has continued with Creating Safe Spaces workshops being held via Zoom.

Creating Safe Spaces is a valuable tool for improving awareness of Safe Church principles. Topics covered in Creating Safe Spaces include prevention of harm to children, ministering to vulnerable adults, risk management, reporting requirements and legal responsibilities. Anyone in leadership and anyone involved in ministry with children, young people or vulnerable adults should do Creating Safe Spaces every three years. Participants in Creating Safe Spaces complete a self-paced online module, covering important information, before attending a workshop at which that information is explained, discussed and applied. Feedback suggests that the discussion of practical scenarios in the workshop context is particularly helpful.

Due to the importance of the training to our churches, we moved quickly to transition Creating Safe Spaces workshops from in person to the Zoom platform. The enables the crucial discussion aspect to continue, without jeopardising the health of participants or presenters.

A number of presenters have now been trained to present Creating Safe Spaces via Zoom. In addition to addressing Covid related restrictions, the zoom workshops have also provide useful for parents and regional participants. Contact Joseph Lam jlam@nswactbaptists.org.au to arrange a Creating Safe Spaces workshop for your church or arrange for new volunteers to attend a general registration workshop by registering at www.creatingsafespaces.org.au .

 

Can you help? - Creating Safe Spaces and Safe Church Health Check translation

We are looking to translate the Safe Church model documents and Creating Safe Spaces material into languages other than English. Some of our churches have already started work on Chinese and Korean translations but we are looking for some additional assistance.

If you know of someone who may be able to assist please contact Katie Watson: kwatson@nswactbaptists.org.au.

Also. if there are any other languages that your church would like to see Safe Church materials translated into or if you know someone who can help with translation into other community languages, please contact Katie Watson: kwatson@nswactbaptists.org.au

BaptistCare Sunday - November

For many years BaptistCare has asked our churches to set aside time during one Sunday service in November to focus on the work of BaptistCare. It is important we take time to:

– acknowledge & celebrate God’s provision that enables this work to continue.
– inform and remind ourselves that the services BaptistCare provides are part of Baptist’s shared efforts to ‘love our neighbour as we would love ourselves” and
– to thank both individuals and churches who partner with us and make this work possible

While BaptistCare employs staff, our volunteers have been an integral part of our ability to assist so many people across NSW & the ACT. In fact, Baptist Homes Trust was established by visionary Baptist women and men who wanted to demonstrate the love of God in practical ways, particularly to those most disadvantaged in society. This reliance on volunteers continues and in conjunction with many partner churches, we see increasing opportunities to demonstrate God’s love in action.

There are several resources to help you focus on BaptistCare Sunday, including:

Screen friendly prayer points
Print friendly prayer points
A video to be played during your service at church

All the resources can be found online at https://baptistcare.org.au/baptistcare-sunday

We encourage you to take time in your Sunday services to share the story of BaptistCare with your congregation during November.

PRAC Spring 2020 Edition is here!

Crossover’s Spring edition of PRAC has sprung! In it, we chart how churches have risen to the challenge of Covid-19 restrictions. It includes stories of how churches have created virtual online church, built new online congregations, reached out to neighbourhoods meeting needs, reached into other countries to disciple new believers, changed the structure of their church, and how churches have grown in their digital capability. It is packed with stories from across our movement of Baptist churches in Australia. Please share this edition with your churches.

Read it online here.

Our Christmas Resources are also coming very soon!

 

OurStory - The next iteration of Together Magazine

Earlier this year we launched our new website ourstory.org.au. ‘Our Story’ will build on the work of ‘Together Magazine’ as we share stories of our wider Baptist movement.

We have begun sharing stories from across our movement as we journey towards our goal of becoming 1,000 healthy churches in a generation (2050).  There are stories of church revitalisation and rebirth, growing and expanding during COVID-19, engaging in mission and seeking justice and gathering together through the use of our christian conference centre Kiah Ridge.

We will need your help to tell stories of how Baptist Churches in NSW & ACT are navigating key issues (such as the bushfires and Covid-19), as well as stories from our affiliated groups.

Stories will be published on the OurStory website, and will be shared on social media through our Association Facebook and Instagram along with regular emails (use the sign-up form below to update your email preferences or join our mailing list!) and a free printed magazine to those who subscribe.

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.

To ensure that we are able to paint a broad picture of what God is doing amongst our churches, the Our Story team needs to hear your stories. If there is something encouraging or inspiring happening within your church, we would love to hear about it and share the story on your behalf. Please feel free to to fill in an OurStory Submission here or contact our Content Creator, Emily Christoforou, any time via email (EChristoforou@nswactbaptists.org.au) – preferably with the following information:

  • The gist of the story (what has happened/what is happening)
  • A quote from yourself about why this story excites you (optional)
  • Contact details for anyone else involved (that I could interview/cross-check with)
  • Any images/video/audio content that goes with the story

 


BaptistCare Annual General Meeting - 12 November

BaptistCare invites you to join their online AGM on Thursday, 12 November at 2:30pm. All church attendees, pastors and organisations connected to BaptistCare are welcome to participate in our online AGM.

For more information or to register, visit https://baptistcare.org.au/annual-general-meeting

 

 

 

 

BaptistCare: New community for south-west Sydney

In the space of two months, BaptistCare has opened a second community housing development, located in Sydney’s south-west. 

The 122-dwelling site at Elderslie, named BaptistCare Narralling Community, provides much-needed housing for seniors and single-parent families, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The housing includes both social and affordable housing options. Affordable housing at both Narralling Community and Kitty Doyle Apartments (Five Dock, opened in September) is for seniors who are still in the workforce or self-funded retirees, and on low to moderate incomes. The housing for single-parent families (Narralling Community only) is for single parents in the workforce on low to moderate incomes, and with up to two children (age limits apply). 

Featuring beautifully landscaped gardens, a BBQ area, community centre, veggie garden and playground for children, and carport parking for every dwelling, BaptistCare Narralling Community will become a welcoming, thriving community of seniors and families from mid-October. 

“Our community housing is more than just a roof overhead; that’s incredibly important. But we’re also ensuring that seniors and single-parent families have access to an affordable and secure tenancy, with tailored support from our team if they need it, and delivered by an organisation who truly cares,” said Mike Furner, General Manager Housing and Retirement Living. 

BaptistCare is excited to partner with local Baptist churches in south-west Sydney to extend the care, services and support to the new tenants at Narralling Community.  

If you have seniors in your church or local community who you believe will be eligible for social or affordable housing at Five Dock or Elderslie, please contact BaptistCare on 1300 275 227. 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to know the Team

Each month we will include team members from different departments so you can discover all the different ways we are supporting you in ministry. This month we are featuring the Baptist Youth Ministries Team. To view the full team, events and resources that that they have available please visit their website here

Emma Pendleton | BYM State Youth Camp Internship Coordinator
0413 390 022
ependleton@nswactbaptists.org.au 

As the State Youth Camp Internship Co-ordinator, currently my role looks like a lot of praying, planning, envisioning and e-mails. However, next year my role will be a whole lot more hands-on, as I will be in the office with a group of interns co-ordinating the State Youth Camp Internship. We will be learning from church leaders across NSW and the ACT, chatting about our local church ministries, engaging in spiritual practice and planning for our upcoming serving opportunities.

I am particularly passionate about investing in young leaders through presenting opportunities in an internship context, from my own personal experience as an intern. I’ve grown up in Thornleigh and attend Thornleigh Community Baptist Church. Transitioning from a youth kid to a young adult, I knew I wanted to serve in youth ministry in some capacity but didn’t particularly know what that could look like. I was given the opportunity to partake in an internship with my church, allowing me to explore youth ministry, grow in my gifts, and be intentionally invested in. In this context, God grew me in ways beyond what I could imagine, and ignited passion for sharing the gospel with young people. This internship lead to ministry opportunities, the decision to go to bible college, becoming a student pastor, and lots of exciting experiences of sharing the gospel with young people. Currently, I serve at my church in youth ministry, kids worship ministry, and preaching (online!).

Although beginning a role in the COVID-age has its challenges, I have loved working as a part of the BYM teach. I am incredibly encouraged by the passionate leaders I am able to work alongside and feel incredibly welcomed into this team. Connecting with church leaders across NSW and the ACT, asking them to participate in the internship’s teaching has made me incredibly excited for next year. There are so many leaders across NSW and the ACT with different passions, gifting’s and callings, which I cannot wait to have the interns (and myself) learn from!

 

Peter Alarcon | Youth Regional Support Worker
0413 390 022
palarcon@nswactbaptists.org.au

My role as Regional Youth and Young Adult Support is to provide ministry support to the churches of NSW and ACT in the Southern and Western Region – Focusing in the area of Youth and Young Adult.

I was Born in the Philippines & moved to Australia in mid 80s. I grew up in the Upper North Shore of Sydney (Hornsby Area) & I am from a heavy Catholic family & I left the faith after High School. I was 1 of 4 children in the family and had middle child syndrome (I have 1 older brother, 1 Older sister and 1 younger brother). I met my wife Sarah got married & moved to the Central Coast. When I met her church friends, they introduced me to the Baptist Church. I returned to Faith and was baptised again in 2007.

I joined my local church Youth Leadership Team in 2007. In 2009, God called me and the family to full time ministry as the Regional Director for Youth For Christ for the Central Coast Region. I was with YFC for 8 years. In YFC, we ran school ministries which includes seminars, weekly programs and mentoring. I also managed a counselling team funded by the government. During that time, I was also appointed as a deacon for my church. I am also a chairperson for Insight High School Ministries who provides Christian Youth Workers and Chaplains for the Local High Schools. Currently, I am still a youth leader and deacon for my church & the chairperson for Insight and Church Liaison for the Erina Men Shed. I also volunteer for BYM for the State Conference and State Youth Camp.

Because I have been volunteering for the BYM team for a few years, It was an easy transition for me to join the team. I love working with them and they are full of energy and life.

It has been great to be interacting with churches again. I miss this part of my old role with YFC. It been great to hear the stories about their youth group, the growth and resilience they have shown during this time.

Rachel Stuhr | Youth Regional Support Worker
0412 239 916
rstuhr@nswactbaptists.org.au

My role as a Regional Support Worker is a lot of fun. I get to be in touch with a number of youth pastors spread out across northern NSW and offer them support and connection in a variety of different ways. Mostly, this happens via email and Zoom meetings, although I look forward to meeting with more of them in person as Covid restrictions ease.

I’ve moved around a fair bit in my lifetime – I’ve lived in 11 different homes so far! I spent my childhood in Blakehurst, in southern Sydney, and my teenage years in Broken Hill. I’ve also lived in Wollongong and Germany. I grew up in a Christian family and attended Brethren and Church of Christ churches growing up, before finding myself in Baptist churches in Germany, then back here in Australia.

Growing up, my parents were always involved in ministry – mum taught Kids Church and dad was a key leader in a preteen ministry and the youth group before becoming and elder, a role from which he is stepping down this year. My parents also led kids’ camps, which were a key part of my faith journey. I started leading children’s ministry at age 13 and have been involved in ministry ever since! My primary focus has been youth ministry, although I’ve also been a part of kids, women’s, and worship ministries. I’m currently the youth pastor at Auburn Baptist Church.

So far, working as part of the BYM team has been a delight. It’s been wonderful getting to know the rest of the team better and it was especially good to get together in person for our team day earlier this year. I look forward to continuing our work together.

As I’ve started contacting churches, it’s been exciting to see just how many young people are being influenced by Baptist churches across NSW. We have so many passionate, committed leaders of young people in our midst, and they are having such a broad impact for the Kingdom. It’s an honour to be a part of this work.

Fiona Gardner | Youth Mental Health Coordinator
0406141535
fgardner@nswactbaptists.org.au

My role as the Youth Mental Health Coordinator is to equip and resource local churches, youth ministries and young people in how best to deal with mental health when it comes to those around them, as well as themselves. With education and understanding we can start breaking the stigma that is associated around Mental Health.

I grew up with 2 older sisters in Carlingford, after moving back to Australia from Switzerland. As a family we attended Carlingford Baptist and my parents now attend Thornleigh Baptist Church. I gave my life to Christ when I was 23 while attending Cherrybrook Community Life Church. I got married to my husband in 2010 and we have 3 boys together: Levi (9), Ryder (6) and Saxon (5) and moved to the Blue Mountains, after deciding to have a “tree” change last year. We also have 3 dogs called Kira, Milly and Billie who are extremely spoilt.

The first ministry I served in was with the youth. I loved and still love connecting with young people and seeing them explore their faith while they navigated the world around them. After getting married and moving churches to Toongabbie Baptist Church, I started serving in the cleaning ministry and the community outreach ministry. In 2016 I was appointed the Youth and Young Adults Pastoral worker, which is my current role within the church.

I have known most of the BYM team for a few years now and am very excited to work with such a dedicated and caring group of people. In a short time, there has been so much encouragement and support shown to me and I feel really blessed to be able to work with everyone. As well as the opportunity to connect in with more churches and leaders.

So far, the conversations I have been having with churches has been very positive. There is an increasing awareness around mental health and a desire to learn and be better equipped in helping those within the church and the community.