Who We Are
The Baptist Union of Victoria is made up of over 230 churches and congregations throughout the state of Victoria. Churches of all size and in all corners of our state make up the Baptist Union as a whole, as well as the Union Council, Baptist Union of Victoria Coordinating Office and other Baptist agencies and affiliates.
- Advancing the Kingdom of God
- Empowering leaders for mission
- To align our churches for mission and develop and communicate a vision for Christ-centred, Kingdom-oriented mission.
- To support and develop healthy pastoral leaders and empower them to lead their churches in mission.
- To promote healthy churches, systems and behaviours across the whole BUV, and to specifically build the capacity of church leadership teams to work in healthy and effective ways so as to enable the churches to devote themselves to mission and ministry.
- To enable high levels of communication throughout the Baptist system, empowering belonging, coordination and engagement together in ideas, resources, training, support and mission.
- To provide effective risk and financial management, high quality information to BUV leaders and reduce the compliance and administration burden on churches.
- The divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
- The existence of one God in three persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- The deity and incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity.
- The fallen, sinful and lost estate of all people.
- The salvation of men and women from the penal consequences and power of sin through the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ, His atoning death, His resurrection from the dead, His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and His unchanging priesthood.
- The immediate work of the Holy Spirit in the regeneration of men and women, in their sanctification, and in their preservation to the heavenly Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The necessity, in order to know salvation, of repentance towards God and of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The resurrection of the dead, and the final judgment of all people by the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The two ordinances of the Lord Jesus Christ, namely Baptism and the Lord's Supper, which are of perpetual obligation: Baptism being the immersion of believers upon the profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and a symbol of the fellowship of the regenerate in His death, burial and resurrection; the Lord's Supper being a memorial, until He comes, of the sacrifice of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. The Lordship of Christ and the authority of the scriptures
We believe that to be a Christian one must confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Jesus reveals himself through the Bible, which is the authority for us on matters of faith and practice. For this reason Baptists have not normally been required to accept formal creeds or statements of faith.The Lordship of Christ and the authority of the scriptures
2. The church is a fellowship of believers, or a company of committed disciples
Baptists have always stressed that the church can only consist of believers who have been born again by God’s spirit. Baptism is an expression of the believer’s repentance and faith and so is generally a requirement of membership in a Baptist church. Ultimate authority in a Baptist church resides, under God, in the church meeting, when members meet together to discern the mind of Christ on all matters related to the work of the church.
3. The priesthood of all believers
Because the church is a fellowship of believers, each member has a living relationship with Christ, therefore each member, regardless of gender or office, is equal and has a share in the ministry of the church.
4. The ministry
While everyone is equal and shares in the ministry of the church, different gifts and functions are recognized by the church. Pastors are appointed to lead the church in worship and in mission and to administer the sacraments. They are seen as the equippers of the local body of believers. Ordination is the recognition by the church of these leadership gifts and responsibilities.
5. Baptism and church membership
We believe the New Testament teaches that belief is confessed through baptism. Accordingly, Baptists insist that only believers may be baptised and believe that it should also be the basis of membership in a local church. The meaning of Baptism is expressed in many ways in the Bible:
- It is a sign of the forgiveness of sins. (Acts 2:38; 22:16)
- It portrays death to the old life of sin and resurrection to the new life that comes through faith in Christ. (Romans 6:3,4)
- It is a symbol of participation in the Body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
- It is a confession of faith in Christ as Lord, and of the desire to obey the Lord’s specific command. (Romans 10:9, Matt 28:19,20)
- It is a dramatic presentation of Christ’s death burial and resurrection. (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12)
- Full immersion of the body is the appropriate mode of baptism since it best signifies the believer’s death, burial and resurrection. (Romans 6:3,4)
- It is linked with the blessing of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38, 1 Corinthians 12:13)
There have often been differences over “open” and “closed” membership in our churches. “Open Membership” churches teach and practise the baptism of believers but accept Christians from other traditions into membership upon profession of their faith. “Closed Membership” churches will only accept into membership those who have been baptised as believers.
6. Churches together
While the local church is the essential part of the Baptist concept of the church, they have always emphasised the importance of fellowship between churches. Associations and Baptist Unions are the expression of this concern. Sharing in the support of missionary work, the training of pastors and leaders, social services and support for new and struggling churches.
7. Religious freedom
Baptists have been enthusiastic supporters of religious freedom. They have opposed all forms of religious coercion and affirm the rights of all people to follow their conscience on matters of faith. We seek to affirm diversity even among our own churches.
8. Other denominations
Most Baptists have always maintained fellowship and communion with other denominations and seek to find cooperative ways to work beside them. While many are willing to share in the more formal ecumenical activities others fear this may lead them to a compromise of their basic beliefs and witness.July 2012 Close