Hello December…

We have had a very busy end to November, kicking off with a Christmas luncheon with our pastors who are Experienced in Ministry. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and reunion for everyone.

Alan Marr and Lindsay Smith

We also held two big events – SEND and IGNITE Discipling Youth Symposium.

Alan Hirsh, SEND Conference Guest Speaker

SEND was sold out this year with more than a hundred church and missional leaders coming together over two days of training. Our main speaker Alan Hirsch, gave three keynote sessions outlining the five-fold matrix as a powerful tool for church flourishing and missional revitalization. Attendees also joined in with workshops on church planting, faithful neighbourhood presence, and working with emerging, pioneering, and multicultural leadership. 

Pastor Tommy Nguyen, IGNITE Guest Speaker

At IGNITE Discipling Youth Symposium, over 90 people, many from LOTE (Languages other than English) came together to explore the themes of discipling youth in the context of cultural diversity and belonging. Our keynote speaker, Pastor Tommy Nguyen, shared his church’s story of wrestling with expectations from first and second Vietnamese generations, but the key for them has been to respond and practice love as demonstrated by the life of Jesus.

What an encouraging week for our BUV family and a great start to the Christmas season as we finish the year Together on Mission!

Lives transformed through Simple English

“When I first visited Camberwell Baptist Church (CBC) earlier this year, my goal was to learn English. I went to church on a Thursday night thinking that there was going to be an English class but there wasn’t. Instead it was a Simple English Bible study class. I listened to worship songs for the first time and even though I didn’t understand the lyrics, I felt touched. I had no idea who Jesus was and what He did. I didn’t believe anything in the book of Matthew even after reading it. I said to myself, “that’s only myths.”  I left the church for some time and went interstate. 

When I returned, I was out of work and desperate. I turned to Jesus for help as I felt like I had nothing to lose anyway. Something miraculous happened. I was invited to an interview and offered a job that I’m so passionate about. God REALLY exists! He listens to my prayers and responds to my every need. That’s something I had never experienced when I believed in Buddhism.

I decided to come back to church this time to learn more about Jesus. I long to know everything about Him. During the time when I studied the Bible, the Lord showed me my life status with a picture in my dream one night. I was so moved as I finally realised that Lord has known me all the time. While I knew nothing about Him, while I didn’t realise His existence, He still knew me, cared about me, and protected me.” Aini shared her testimony at the recent CBC Baptism Service.

Aini’s story is one of many lives transformed through the Simple English ministries at CBC.

We are excited to see people of all nationalities come to know Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him,” says Karen Newnham, Associate Pastor for Multicultural Ministries.

Through our Let’s Talk English and Simple English Bible Study, we encourage people to practice English and also introduce them to cultural aspects of Australian life. There is also a Mandarin speaking Bible Study run at the same time, for those who want to find out more about the Christian Faith.”

As the Boorondara neighbourhood becomes increasingly multicultural, CBC strives to represent Christ and continue to seek ways to serve and reach people with the good news of Jesus.

Sowing Seeds for the Kingdom

In the history of the church and revivals, united prayer has been a focal point. That’s what we want to happen in our churches and in our generation.

When we first arrived at Bacchus Marsh Baptist Church in 2010, a long-time church member commented, “We are like a horse without a rider – we need some direction!”

People were zealous for God and the gospel but the challenge was in finding ways to reach the community outside the four walls of our church.

We prayed for God to provide resources and direction to reach the people in our community. A lot of change and growth has happened since. Mostly the changes are small and quiet, like the Kingdom. A seed is sown, you don’t see it growing, then something sprouts.

God brought the right people to help expand our church’s Silver Lining Op Shop to four days a week. We started gaining a reputation in town for fair prices and friendliness. Even our non-church volunteers shared our vision: to care for people, meet their needs and provide good customer service. These volunteers became comfortable with faith and even asked us to pray for them occasionally!

Op Shop

In 2015, God gave some of our people the idea to establish a community garden. With great efforts from a core group and the support of a council grant, the garden grew and is now complete with a home-built pizza oven. The BUV and BaptCare also helped with grants to develop our courtyard and build a playground.

Community Garden


This beautiful community area helps us connect with people from all walks of life, especially with those whose lifestyle and culture are different from most of us. Like the church in Acts when the Gentiles arrived, there were challenges and things to learn and understand from one another. We embarked on a journey of learning and our church started to change.

Our average 40-person Sunday congregation didn’t get bigger, but it was different. We celebrated newcomers who made commitments to Christ, and from September 2018 to March 2019 we baptised five people, four from non-church backgrounds!

A year ago, with the help of the BUV, we reviewed our church’s health and capacity and realised that we needed to “grow young”. Our committed members were mostly in the 50+ age group. Just when the review concluded, a pastor named Scott James left his previous role, convinced God had something for him in Bacchus Marsh.

Scott James

“As a family we felt we were slowly being led here,” Scott said. He is now our associate pastor. With a young family and a heart for community, he fills a welfare role with some junior football teams. In addition, our fragmented teens group is rallying under his leadership.

“I am really enjoying serving within the local community God has placed us in,” Scott says.

In October, we held an event at our community garden. We offered free pizzas, hired a jumping castle, served scones and more than 50 people from our local community turned up.

Last month, we cancelled a Sunday service to participate at the annual Bacchus Marsh Strawberries and Cherries Weekend Festival. We ran a church stall and gave away free plants and cookies. Over 50% of our church members participated to be together amongst the community!

We sense the Spirit moving and we are convinced in the role of prayer in sowing seeds for the Kingdom. We wait for what else God will do in our community and our next generation.

Jeremy Van Langenberg
Pastor, Bacchus Marsh Baptist Church

Bengalis Gathering at West Melbourne

When we realized the large proportion of our church who were born in Bangladesh or who had Bengali friends in Melbourne, it prompted us to hold an initial Bengali Gathering in September of this year.

Our second Bengali Gathering at the West Melbourne Baptist Church on 30 November was another experience of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and people of no religion coming together to meet and eat, share stories and pray together. We sang along to a popular Bengali song that celebrates the way Bangladeshis have often sung together, enjoyed theatre together and raced boats together without caring about each other’s religious affiliation.

Bengali Gathering at Eighth Day Church

As people arrived they were invited to stick their names on a map of Bangladesh on a town or city that was special to them. Later around tables and over a cuppa people shared why that location had personal significance. Former cross-cultural workers to East Pakistan/Bangladesh were in attendance as was a recently accepted candidate bound for service in that country.

With famous poets like Rabindranath Tagore writing lines about the Bengal, it was fitting at our gathering to have an Australian learning Bengali reciting a Bengali poem and a Melbourne-based Bengali poet reading two compositions from his published book of poems.

Lew and Mary-Anne Hess were interviewed about how their relationship flowered in Bangladesh and what it was like to live there thirty years ago. They spoke of their recent visit to Dhaka in November, and the changes that they’d seen. Mary-Anne said they were in the country when Cyclone Bulbul struck causing the death of several people and the evacuation of thousands. She remarked on the resilience of Bangladeshis who are used to facing such devastation. Lew spoke of the 900,000+ Rohingyas who have been exiled from Myanmar and are living in camps in the south of Bangladesh. He said that while there are issues to do with the distribution of aid, Bangladesh has demonstrated a remarkable generosity of spirit in its welcome to these homeless people.

Now, after a recent successful second event, it seems that hosting Bangla get-togethers several times a year will be a fixture for us at the West Melbourne Baptist Church in the foreseeable future.

Geoff Pound
Pastor, The Eighth Day (also known as the West Melbourne Baptist Church).

Kew’s EP Launch!

On Thursday 7 November, Kew Baptist Church celebrated the release of our debut worship EP ‘Daughters and Sons’ with a special Launch Event. It was a wonderful night of celebration, featuring musical performances from the EP worship team, creative artworks on display from some of our resident artists, and times of worship in song together as a community. One of the highlights of the evening was a reflective dance item performed by one of our young adults, choreographed especially for one of the EP tracks. The whole evening was a beautiful outpouring of God-honouring creativity and Christ-centred community. We are so encouraged by all that God has been and is doing among us. It’s been humbling to see how God has already been using these songs to bless and minister to His people, and we’re so excited to finally make them more widely accessible through this EP, to further bless people and to share the heart of Jesus.

EP Launch

‘Daughters and Sons’ was recorded live at the church earlier this year, featuring four congregational worship songs (including three originals). The overarching theme of the EP is identity in Christ – knowing who we are in God. This theme is woven throughout the four songs in different ways, through a narrative of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Declaration. The final words sung in the last song, “Lord, help us know who we’re made to be”, are really the heart of the whole EP; that through these songs, God would draw us into a deeper understanding of who we are in Him, empowering us to go out into the world in the assurance of His grace and love, and to step into all that He has purposed for us – His chosen and beloved children; His daughters and sons.

The EP is now available on all digital platforms. You can find streaming links and chord charts at http://kewbaptist.org.au/daughters-and-sons. CDs are also available to purchase from the church office. We hope these songs will be a blessing to your church! For more information, please contact Lauren Pickering (admin@kewbaptist.net.au).

Views from the Manse – A Model Rural Minister

Here is some fun in the form of a skit produced for a church concert. It was produced and presented by Dorothy Morgan and the family while they were at Naringal. The item illustrates one way a modern minister’s wife may contribute to church life. While the focus was on the role of the pastor, he was not present but was represented by a puppet.


Parody of “I Am the Very Model of A Modern Major General” by Gilbert & Sullivan in the ‘The Pirates of Penzance.’ If you are not familiar with the music then Google ‘I am the very model…’ and you will find several renditions. These will give you the tune and the style in which it is usually presented.  

The item was performed at a church concert in the mid-1990s by a pastor-look-alike puppet in the pulpit, to a soundtrack graciously recorded by the pastor, who was unable to be present.

I am the very model of a modern rural minister,
Although I do suggest ideas that challenge folks and cause a stir –
Like building renovations that would rival ol’ Westminister –
And introducing songs that no-one’s ever heard or sung before.
I’ve made a point of learning all about things agricultural:
I now can say with confidence, “Look, that one over there’s a bull!”
I’ve asked the dumbest questions that the dairy farmers ever heard,
But when they say, “Will you help milk?”, I answer “Don’t be so absurd!”

But when they say, “Will you help milk?”, he answers “Don’t be so absurd!”

I play a mean trombone and know a lot about things musical.
I like up-tempo songs in church, but love to play the classical,
And though I do enjoy old hymns, I steer away from dirgey ones
‘Cause I’m the very model of a trendy Aussie clergyman.

And though he does enjoy old hymns, he steers away from dirgey ones
‘Cause he’s the very model of a trendy Aussie clergyman.

I like to read the printed page (my wife says I’m obsessed with it –
in early days my thirst for books caused her to throw many a fit!)
And yes, my library shelves are filled with many volumes biblical,
Theological, historical and plenty that is pastoral;
And some books that are comical and others rather serious
And magazines and newspapers and booklets that all gather dust;
But all of them are useful for a Whitley-ordained reverend:
I write such wondrous sermons – people wonder if they’ll ever end!

He writes such wondrous sermons – people wonder if they’ll ever end!

Though farming types like to believe my skills aren’t very practical
I’m not afraid to try my hand at matters electronical
Like mother boards and cards and RAM that make computers faster
‘Cause I’m the very model of a nineties Baptist pastor.

Like mother boards and cards and RAM that make computers faster
‘Cause he’s the very model of a nineties Baptist pastor.

In fact, when folks around this way have problems technological
They have been known to call me (though my role is theological)
‘Cause though I’m far from expert (and know so much less than RB[1] does!)
I’m game to try the options out – and when they work, I get a buzz.
I’ve also filled the vital role of holder of the big spotlight
While others aim and fire some shots to catch the bunnies out at night.
I preach and teach and organise and try to visit everyone –
Despite ferocious dogs at times that make me want to turn and run!

Despite ferocious dogs at times that make him want to turn and run!

Though what I’ve said may not sound like a man filled with humility
I’m not (and know I’ll never be) the perfect rural church “GP”
‘Cause really, when all’s said and done, I’m here to serve God’s precious Son –
And He’s the ideal model of a rural Baptist clergyman.

‘Cause really, when all’s said and done, I’m here to serve God’s precious Son –
And He’s the ideal model of a rural Baptist clergyman.



[1] Church member qualified and working in the IT field

The Victorian Baptist Historical Society (VBHS) – Who we are, What we do and Why we do it

The Victorian Baptist Historical Society (VBHS) had its first public meeting in November 1987.  The Society was set up to ensure that our past is not forgotten and that we recall people’s responses to God’s calling over many years!  Membership is open to anyone with an interest in Baptist History, particularly Victorian Baptist History.  The annual membership fee which primarily covers the publication, printing and postage costs of our quarterly newsletter and annual publication “Our Yesterdays” is very modest, with special rates for couples and churches.  Our current President is Marita Munro, Treasurer and BUV archivist is John Sampson, Secretary is Richard Thwaites and journal and newsletter editor is Ken Manley. 

We meet three or four times a year and in recent times our speakers have covered a diverse range of topics, including histories of churches, biographies of prominent Victorian Baptists, and the impact on our denomination of significant local, national and international events.  Over recent years we have also run coach trips to the central Victorian Goldfields and Geelong, to visit Baptist churches of historical significance, and in September 2020 plan to run a trip to Castlemaine and Bendigo to visit Baptist churches there.

A new initiative of the VBJHS this year is an essay competition.  Details have been published in recent BUV bulletins, but can also be obtained from the Secretary at Richard.thwaites@bigpond.com

Our well attended meeting in November featured a presentation by Dr Ros Gooden, who reflected on her lifetime of service and mission.  Here is a brief precis of her presentation:

“Glancing Backwards: One thing led to another” by DR ROS GOODEN

Dr Ros GoodenRos provided the audience with background notes to her presentation and it is planned to include her talk in the next edition of “Our Yesterdays” which will be made available to VBHS members in 2020.  She noted that many of her ancestors had been missionaries, and she felt mission was in her DNA.  She initially did a science degree and taught just one year in a school before focusing on adult education.  Her first missionary journey was to East Pakistan in 1965 but within a few months was evacuated to Singapore due to the war.  She spoke about the ongoing political situation in Pakistan, the establishment of Bangladesh as a separate country, and the challenges of life on the mission field as a single woman.  She talked about her experiences as a language teacher and consultant, and ongoing theological education.  She noted how God had opened new opportunities throughout her life, and how mission itself had changed over the years.  She reflected on her time with the (then) ABMS in Melbourne and especially thanked Ken Manley and Whitley College for the help she had received.  She challenged the audience in two areas.  She challenged the VBHS to establish an index of significant Baptist Women who had played prominent roles in the life of the church, denomination and in society in general, and to explore what Baptists had learned from Bengalis, not just vice versa.  She also noted the next International Conference on Baptist Studies (ICOBS) to be held at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina on 21-24 July 2021 when the theme would be Baptists and Gender.

Our next meeting will be our AGM, planned for Saturday March 14th 2020, at 11-00 am, when the Annual GeoffreyBlackburn Memorial Lecture will be given jointly by Rev Drs Gary Heard and Geoff Pound, who will talk about the history of the Eighth Day Church in West Melbourne.  Remember, everyone is welcome to attend!

Disciplines for Longevity

Longevity in fruitful church ministry requires a foundation of discipline – one that Mark Purser has cultivated over the last twenty-three years in his various pastoral roles. Mark, along with this wife, Tania, and four children, feel called by God to the local church and have a strong desire to make a difference in people’s lives. Mark recognises that to be responsive to this calling requires them all to be at their best. “I have seen too many pastors burnt out and living with anxiety on the back of not attending to their own needs and those of their families.” Anxiety affects one in four people in Australia at some stage in their lifetime. For Mark, it is clear that pastors are not immune from society’s expectations, distractions and pressures. In fact, pastors and those in ‘helping positions’ can be more prone to these pressures, which often lead to burn out.

Mark reflects, “Finding healthy rhythms with work, family and rest has been crucial to my enjoyment and effectiveness in pastoral ministry and life in general.”

In his youth, Mark made a firm commitment to Christ at a Scripture Union camp. He recalls the experience of God’s creation at its best being a catalyst in that decision. One aspect of Mark’s discipline in self-care is solitude with God in wilderness experiences. “I still find myself connecting deeply with God in these beautiful and peaceful settings today as I remove myself from the external distractions and noises so prevalent in our culture.”

Mark’s launch into pastoral ministry was a leap of faith. Leaving a national field hockey career and secure family business behind, Mark took seriously the need to close doors of possibility and worldly success in order to be obedient to God in becoming a Youth Pastor at Heathmont Baptist. The discipline of saying no to stability and success is not revered in our culture, but it was the risk that God required of Mark at the beginning of his pastoral work, and for his various leadership roles since.

It was in this first pastoral role that Mark submitted to mentoring. Being mentored has become a life-long discipline and has been responsible for significant growth in his life. Rev. John Wright at Heathmont Baptist mentored Mark in theology and practical application of the Word. Rev. Allan Demond at NewHope Baptist imparted to Mark strategic visioning and preaching, while Pastor Wayne Cordeiro at New Hope, Oahu (Hawaii) has helped Mark in personal disciplines, leading out of one’s strengths and self-care.

Having given up a successful sporting career has not stopped Mark from maintaining physical exercise as a key aspect of his self-care. Regular running, walking, bike riding and time at the gym helps him to be at his best. His love of sport has been well matched with an AFL chaplaincy role at the Essendon Football Club. 

Mark is passionate about living a life of faith and embracing the principles that Jesus lived out. What some may see as work, he sees as simply part of his life that he carries with him wherever he is.

God led Mark and his family from Heathmont to NewHope in Melbourne, then to Clovercrest Baptist in Adelaide as Senior Pastor, and more recently back to Melbourne to undertake a role as the Church Relations Manager with Baptist World Aid. Mark’s wife and four children have been with him through these big changes and challenges. Mark acknowledges family as of utmost importance in his pastoral work and commitments: “Family is a high value in my life, and I am attentive to the time we spend together. I’m determined to make sure that my vocational ministry does not come at the expense of a happy and healthy family unit.” All his children are now in their teenage years, and while Mark describes himself as an ‘uber parent’ responding to their transportation needs, he gets immense satisfaction from seeing his kids excel in their giftings and growing from their constant learnings and challenges in life. “My deepest prayer is for each of them to continue in their faith and step into the calling God has for each of them.”

A new challenge is now on the horizon. Compelled by the vision to grow and multiply disciples, Mark is moving into a new role as Campus Pastor at Crossway, Burwood East Campus. To this role, he brings a wealth of experience and gifts that lend themselves to a multi-staffed and multi-ministry church. He also brings the wealth of life-long disciplines that bring life and health to ministry and family; disciplines that build a foundation for longevity. “It’s a discipline to find time for myself, my wife and kids, but one that is truly rewarding.”

Rev Mark Purser

Mark and his family

From Fields to Follow

In Victoria today, many people from the city are moving to the growth corridors because they can’t afford inner city. For this same reason many who migrate from other countries also end up settling in the growth corridors.

Not long ago, the Officer region consisted of paddocks and cows, but it is now a key suburb in the rapid expansion of the South East growth corridor, with significant infrastructure and housing estates being developed in the area. This means that there are thousands of people moving into our region and it presents great Gospel opportunity to represent Jesus through sharing the good news, blessing the local community, caring for the poor and lonely and raising disciples on mission.

Follow Baptist Church started as a dream in the hearts of some of the people at Beaconsfield Baptist in 2012. The dream was to plant a new, vibrant, faith community in the Officer Region that would reach new people with the Gospel.

We publicly launched as a Church in July 2015 and 3 acres of land was generously donated to us in central Officer. We have since grown from 31 committed people as part of our Core and Launch Teams to celebrating with almost 300 attendees at our recent 4th birthday celebration. By God’s grace, we have grown to become a vibrant, Jesus loving community in Officer!

One of the great joys of the Follow journey so far is that we feel as though we are growing up with our local community, and that they already view us as a significant part of it. We also love seeing God at work with many new Christians and people being baptised.

Recently someone from our congregation had a conversation with a Muslim man at Hallam Hotel. This encounter led to further conversations and the man has now committed his life to Christ. It was a joy to meet him recently and talk of the freedom he has found in Christ and how he loves that Follow is a place with so many cultures who gather to worship in one name. This is a foreign idea for him, but as he explained, it “feels like 100 kilos has been lifted from his shoulders” He is now wanting to be baptised!

The big dream for Follow is that we will bloom where are planted in the Officer region. We will be fruitful and then multiply to establish new Churches throughout the South East. We desire to see real transformation happen in the South East of Melbourne and we would love for you to join us in prayer for a move of God! We know and believe that God can do immeasurably more than we could ever hope, dream or imagine, according to His power at work in us for His glory!

Pastor Luke Williams
Lead Pastor, Follow Baptist Church

Our Vision and Mission
Our vision at Follow has always been very simple. Our vision is Jesus. He is the one we look to in all things, He is the one we want to imitate and follow with our lives. Our mission is almost as simple; to Follow Jesus in our community for His glory! We have probably all seen long vision documents which sound amazing, but nobody actually remembers them. We chose to make it simple enough for our people to remember.

Our Name
People often ask why we are called Follow Baptist Church. We were praying about what to call a new Church and during that period, a relative had been to the Melbourne Art Gallery and had taken a photograph with hundreds of words on it. As I looked at the picture the word that jumped off the page was the word Follow. Essentially following is what discipleship is all about and that’s who we want to be; followers of Christ. It is an ancient word, but it’s also a modern one as we ‘follow’ people on social media, so we felt it was a word people connected with. As far as we know it is the only Church in the world called Follow!

Our Ministries
The Growth corridors are vibrant places to live where new things are always happening. With affordable housing and many education and employment opportunities, the South East is an attractive place to live. This creates a wonderful opportunity for us to reach a high percentage of young families and children settling into the area.

While there are many positives of a corridor such as this, there are also challenges. Many people feel lonely or isolated in our area and there is a higher percentage of homelessness, poverty, mental illness and youth suicide than in other regions of Victoria. This is tragic; however, it does provide opportunities for us to minister and serve in those areas to bless our community. We believe Officer should be a better place because we are there! 

All of our missional activities are under the banner of the Bless Collective.

The Bless Collective Food Van
After researching and seeing the needs of our local community, we consulted with our local community and council to ask them how we could best serve our community. The needs we saw and they had identified, matched up and those discussions led to the establishment of the Bless Collective Food Van. Every Tuesday & Thursday evening we meet in what was a notorious Pakenham Park adjacent to Pakenham Station. Over the years Bourke Park has been associated with addiction and drug dealing, violence and homelessness. The council felt that it was a key place to meet real needs in our region. We meet there twio nights every week and have developed a community connection HUB to help break isolation, build relationships and alleviate the pain people are feeling. We set up tents, tables and chairs and provide cooked meals for all of our guests. We don’t judge people who come to the Bless Collective but seek to develop meaningful and ongoing relationships. We have also partnered with Cardinia Shire Council, Orange Sky (Portable Laundry) and Clean as Casper (Portable Shower Truck) to make a HUB for our community, while also providing a referral service for our guests who need additional support. We have recently employed a new Food Van Manager who has valued experience in these areas and we look forward to new and creative ideas to further help people break down these cycles in life and find wholeness in Christ.

Mainly Music
Our mainly music program has expanded to back to back sessions predominantly filled with unchurched families. This has flowed onto a parenting course and it has been a joy journeying with new families and to see several of them cross over into a faith community as a result.

Officer Secondary College (OSC)
We have the privilege of running a breakfast program every Tuesday morning at OSC as well as running a No Limits mentoring program for Year 9 boys. It has been a wonderful way of connecting with both staff and students.

Timbertop Christmas Festival
In 2018 we were approached by a local resident’s group to work with them to deliver a Christmas celebration is the new Timbertop Estate in Officer. It was a special event where we were able to take our portable coffee cart, provide a sausage sizzle and perform and sing Christmas carols at such a significant time of year. The mayor opened the event and it is the first carols event in the Officer region.

Learn more about Follow Church