Rev Jamie Freeman Team Leader 

The word “pivot” became colloquial in 2020 and characterised the work of the Gen1K Mission Team and our churches. Following the devasting impact of the drought and bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic led the Baptist Ministry Centre to set up a cross-functional response team. The team utilised a Disaster Recovery Framework that helped our churches and community with responding to the crisis and begin the process of discovering life and ministry in a pandemic aware world. A key initiative was the online Pastors and Leaders Q&A that engaged 600 individuals and 265 different churches.   

FORM Conference was another casualty of the pandemic. This led to the launch of the Forming Church Podcast, which reached an audience of 3500 people. There are 12 episodes with guests from our movement and around the world.   

Belinda Lakelin, Evangelism Consultant 

One of the highlights of 2020 was the partnerships formed between our Association and other organisations wanting to see the good news of Jesus proclaimed.  Once again, we partnered with Olive Tree Media running the “Jesus the Game Changer 2” campaign. Around 30 churches signed up to participate in the campaign. Olive Tree Media quickly adapted to the restrictions of the pandemic, making the material available for small groups and Zoom.  Churches participating in the campaign reported the material was excellent.  

We partnered with Crossway Baptist to offer “Building a Discipling Culture” (BDC) training to all our churches.  BDC is a two-year coaching process that looks at the words, works and ways of Jesus.  As BDC coaching clusters are run via Zoom, BDC was well placed to continue their training during the pandemic restrictions, and we have 19 churches now on the journey.  Crossway offered full scholarships for churches wanting to sign on for the coaching process and this offer will still be available in 2021.  

“Plan A: The Great Commission for Every Christian” evangelism training run by the Association also proved to be adaptable during the pandemic and 14 churches engaged with the training. Small group material has been developed for churches and engaging videos can be found online.

Ken Kamau, Multiplication Facilitator 
Teri Capehart, Discernment Process Coordinator 
Esther Thackray, Assistant 

In 2020 five church plants and 3 new sites (attached to a multi-site church) were started. These different congregations reflect the diverse or “blended ecology” approach that was outlined in the strategic approach to congregation multiplication at the October Assembly. This was part of a broader analysis that mapped and categorised all the existing churches in our movement and compared this to projected population growth, ranking Local Government Areas (LGA’s) according to church planting priority.  

Two other key initiatives in our strategic approach to multiplication are the development of collaborative church planting networks and Catalyst Community Training. 11 churches completed this training with a commitment to grow from 27 to 62 congregations and 8 networks are at different stages of formation.   

In conjunction with the Accreditation review, further development of the Church Planter Discernment Process occurred to move toward a formational approach. The Gen1K Mission website outlines the different steps and helps guide the candidate through the process with the support of regional facilitators. There are currently 9 potential planters on this discernment journey

Kelly Crawford, Public Community Engagement Coordinator & Bushfire Relief and Recovery Coordinator 
Rev Trevor Wight, BaptistCare Relationship Manager 
Marbuen Diaz, Baptist World Aid Church Relationship Manager 

2020 provided opportunities and challenges for public engagement and showcased the strength of partnerships.  The year focused us on important topics such as community engagement, assisting the vulnerable and responding to domestic and family violence (DFV) while also forcing us to put other priorities on hold.  At the start of the pandemic we provided resources including information about the public health orders, opportunities to engage locally and globally to love our neighbours, advice on responding to DFV, and adapted spiritual care webinars (in partnership with BaptistCare NSW & ACT).  We also encouraged churches to sign up to the End Covid for All Campaign, supported by Baptist World Aid, and helped deliver a four-part series on rediscovering Christianity in an age of consumerism.

We continued with our DFV work, becoming part of a national working group to equip churches and pivoting in 2020 to deliver the Healthy Relationships Project.  Over 30 pastors and church leaders also participated in DFV training delivered in partnership with Relationships Australia.   

We worked with BaptistCare NSW & ACT to not only deliver the Spiritual Care webinar series (which had over 500 engagements) but also to assist our churches offering essential services during Covid with up-to-date information and support.  BaptistCare and the Association worked closely on bushfire response, connecting churches to BaptistCare Housing sites, helping churches with community connect grants, and exploring how to support churches working with people who are ageing and nearing the end-of-life.  With the establishment of the Baptist Association and BaptistCare Strategic Planning Group and both organisations having representation on the NCLS Board and its Research Subcommittee, 2020 was a year committed to partnership, collaboration and breaking new ground. 

Bushfire Relief & Recovery Report:  

In 2020, over $320,000 was donated to the Association’s Bushfire Relief Fund from individuals, churches, BaptistCare NSW & ACT and BFS.  Sixteen churches accessed the Fund to assist bushfire-affected people from the far South Coast to the far North Coast of NSW.   

Churches, the Association and BaptistCare partnered to assist with vouchers for necessitous items, provide counselling, pay for utilities, donate materials and provide generators, rainwater tanks, and water delivery.   

On the South Coast, churches arranged for over 220 voucher packs or hampers from local businesses to support bushfire-affected people.  The Relief Fund paid for a counsellor in Mogo and Batemans Bay, and drought funds provided piping for a water project for people on remote properties in the Bega Valley.  

In the Riverina, bushfire funds paid for shipping containers for people who lost their homes in the fires allowing people to safely store their belongings while they rebuild.  Riverina pastors and church leaders arranged for tool vouchers, water pumps and more for those affected by the fires.   

In the Bilpin area, Kurrajong Baptist Church assisted in property clean up with the Bushfire Fund paying for equipment hire to pull down damaged trees.  Kurrajong Baptist also arranged social events to help build community spirit and give people an opportunity to reconnect.  They stepped in to replace damaged parts of property and to support local businesses.