Mission Catalyst on Grassroots Placemaking and Welcoming New Team Member Danny Ang!

It was a great day out on Sunday, 23 March with the Ordinands for our third week with Mission Catalyst. Interviews and prayers at Mill Park for the three new church plants as well as our newest member Danny Ang, who presented on Grassroots Placemakers at Olivine. Read on to know more about Danny!

Danny Ang is the newest member to join team Mission Catalyst, charged with oversight to Grassroots Placemakers (GRP) movement. His role is to support the continuing work of mission and has dual functions of creating opportunities for place making and supporting place makers to become effective in their roles. He brings more than 20 years of management experience in the commercial sector and more than 8 years in the non-profit sector focusing on process innovation and strategic planning.

On March 22, we saw Danny in action in Donnybrook shared cup café, giving his first talk about GRP to a group of pastors as part of their Intensive Ordination Program. The talk reinforced the Mission Catalyst initiative of reimagining mission.  Danny presented a practical framework on how to express Mission in community and a process that helps to identifying works that create the greatest impact to the community, using the existing assets of the local church.

Danny is now in conversation with several churches exploring new expressions of mission. He invites every church to explore this avenue as a way to building new faith communities.

Professional Development for pastors to handle conflict.

Story by Rev Jonathan Stark, Head of BUV Pastoral Leadership Support & Development

A group of pastors from churches around Victoria gathered on line and there was just one item on the agenda – conflict. In fact the whole day was about “Facing Conflict Well” and the BUV Pastoral Leadership Support and Development team provided input and facilitated discussion.

Many pastors feel unprepared for conflict when they begin ministry. The church is a community of people who gather in Jesus’ name and so many are surprised when conflict arises in the midst of Christian community. But conflict arises when people who are in community disagree with each other. When a pastoral leader is passionate about leading God’s people, conflict can and often does arise. And when a ministry ends due to conflict pastors often regret not facing the conflict sooner.

So, pastors went online to understand how to face conflict well.

We were helped to explore and understand five different personal conflict styles (based on Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model) and how these might affect how we respond to conflict. Some can be forceful like a bull and others can be accommodating like a cuddly koala. We had input to help identify different types of difficult people who we may face in our churches, and the ways we can minister to them and understand their needs.

We were encouraged to think about how to actually engage in conflict and the steps we could take. We began by asking ourselves how we might honour and please God in this situation, then made sure we got the log out of our own eyes before seeking to actually engage gently by speaking the truth in love, all the while seeking to reconcile.

Throughout the day a real highlight was hearing two pastors share from their own experience how they had experienced and faced conflict in their ministry. Their insights were very helpful to all who attended. As the day concluded, we identified together the many gifts available to pastors when facing conflict. Among the many gifts were the help from leadership in the church, peers at clusters, and support from the BUV Hub.

One pastor reflected on the day as being so important and timely for pastoral leaders that they wished all Baptist pastors had been able to participate. The day was one of the BUV’s pastoral leadership development days called EDGE 10:10. These days are aimed at helping pastors grow by sharpening their skills.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, “If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.”

 

Look out for details about our next EDGE 10:10 on June 9 and don’t forget to register today to connect with other pastors for Nourish, a day especially for pastors on May 21.

Empowered Faith Community launches its first ever learning and training experience

On Thursday, 18 March COACH in partnership with The BUV launched our first Empowered Faith Community – learning and training experience. It was so good to see people representing churches from Geelong, Bendigo, Sale as well as a number from across the Melbourne metro area, be trained in reaching people in tough places and helping them to flourish.
 
The Empowered Faith Community concept centres on community gatherings in and amongst people living in poverty. During the training we explored questions like what does poverty and oppression look like in your local community.  How does your church engage with people who are doing it tough and what would an entire community of people who were doing life tough look like if they were now empowered as a disciple of Jesus.

Mission Catalyst Team : Refresh Retreat Day and Missional Imagination Workshop

Refresh Retreat Day 

This was held at Aintree in the beautiful shared space of Katy and Jono Ingram and Lee and Norm Palumbo’s houses. They are our placemakers in this location and have developed a quiet space for contemplation and renewal. Pastors attended the day with Graeme Semple (Regional Pastor) and Gayle Hill (Mission Catalyst) to spend time in God’s word as well as sharing with one another their personal journey of recovery from COVID, and their aspirations and plans for reorientating to 2021, in terms of serving their church, but also their neighbourhood.  As an added bonus, Jono shared over lunch from the social enterprise café he and Norm established, their journey of neighbourhood engagement and the rhythms of their personal and faith community. All in all it was a meaningful and refreshing day.

 

Missional Imagination Workshop – The Church

A full day of engaging with pastors and the Mission Catalyst Team at NewHope Baptist Church was experienced where we collectively unpacked what missional imagination would look like if the church community was activated for local and neighbourhood mission. How do we undertake this transition from a formulated model of church to a missional ecclesiology? We considered the value of a multiplying model for the church as distinct from a growth model. How might our churches undertake a “side project” in missional experimentation in order to bring about missional praxis? Some of our pastors are considering how commencing a micro-church within their existing church which reaches out to people of peace is a good start. Others are considering commencing a social enterprise within their confines of their footprint. The Mission Catalyst Team has expertise in helping our churches develop and activate missional imagination.

Houses of Hope – a generous gift for Asylum Seekers

We are so excited to be commissioning and celebrating the partnership among St Kilda Elsternwick Baptist Church, St Kilda Baptist Benevolent Society, the registered charity associated with the church and Baptcare’s Houses of Hope Program. Listing three organisations together like that makes it sound rather complicated but to put it simply, we have come together to provide housing that is affordable or free for asylum seekers in two flats that the church owns.

We want to celebrate that today.

We want to pray for all those involved.

We want to thank God that we have been able to do this one small thing in our attempts to make St Kilda, and indeed Australia a more just and equitable place for all.

A brief reflection on how we got here:

St Kilda Elsternwick Baptist Church has a significant history in providing social/affordable/supported accommodation through Scottsdale and Macasseh House. The Church also owns a block of four flats, all of which were previously rented out commercially.

In late 2017, the Church formed an Asylum Seeker Advocacy Group to advocate for dignity, justice and hospitality for asylum seekers who have come to Australia seeking help. As well as events, letters and petitions, they have been seeking a project to give local expression to this mission.

In 2018, following a seminar with Hal Bissett and a congregational conversation, we formed an Affordable Housing Working Group to consider further steps our church could take in addressing the lack of affordable housing. The group recommended that we use one/some of our church flats in partnership with Baptcare’s Houses of Hope program to provide supported accommodation for asylum seekers. Just as the church prepared to engage this recommendation, Stacey resigned and we decided to pause this initiative.

Over the last 2 years, the St Kilda Baptist Benevolent Society (SKBBS), a registered charity associated with the church and committed to the relieving of poverty in our local area, nominated Fair Share, Community Kitchen and some expression of affordable/social housing as its priorities. While SKBBS has been able to support Fair Share and Community Kitchen, it needed significant additional funding to be able to fulfil its dreams to provide affordable or social housing.

In mid-2020 a generous, unsolicited gift was provided through the benevolent arm of the House of the Gentle Bunyip, a ground-breaking ministry of the Baptist Church in Clifton Hill. Suddenly resources became available.

Soon after that donation the two upstairs units in the church owned flats became available.

Recognising a significant moment, SKBBS undertook substantial research and formed a recommendation to embrace asylum seeker housing in partnership with Baptcare and invited the church to consider entering a 3-way partnership between Baptcare, church and SKBBS.

The church was excited! And a green light was given from the church.

So what formed was a wonderful three way partnership. The Church owns the flats, provides the volunteers/neighbours to the resident asylum seekers should they wish for any neighbourly assistance/friendship. The church leases the flats to Baptcare and SKBBS provides the vast majority of the funding.  

And so with the help of you all and the local community we furnished those flats and set them. They are now filled with wonderful people. Some of you may be getting to know them. We have volunteers from our community who under Baptcare’s capable guidance are acting as “neighbours” to our new neighbours as they orient themselves in a new country and community.

This housing is a practical extension of so many things that this church cares about. But more than that I pray this housing will not just be nice social housing but be a home and a so much more to the women and children we are so thankful to have stay there. Amen

Kathryn Jensen, Robyn Song and Christine Wanstall – a historic day for BUV Ordination

This year, the BUV held an ordination service on Saturday, 27 February at Mill Park Baptist Church. This was the rescheduled service that would have occurred in October 2020 had we not been in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. If this is not history-making enough, the service was a celebration of the setting apart of three women to pastoral leadership – perhaps the first time in the history of ordination within the BUV that the ordinands standing before God and their sisters and brothers in Christ, and vowing to honour the call of God on their lives, were all women

Kathryn Jensen from Mill Park Baptist Church, Robyn Song from Bentleigh and Korean Baptist Church, and Christine Wanstall from the BUV Church Health and Capacity Building Team brought inspiring words of commitment and vision, as they shared their stories of obedience to God’s call to service as pastoral leaders.

All three paid tribute to the pioneering women who had gone before them; all three testified to the work of the Spirit within their lives and ministry; all three celebrated the importance of their faith communities as companions along the way to ordination and all three proclaimed a vision of a great God who continues to call them into partnership in God’s redemptive and restorative work in the world.

It was an inspiring service. Our only regret is that attendance was restricted to a limited number due to COVID-safe regulations.

This year, as we look forward to the ordination of fourteen candidates in October, we hope that we will be able to return to an open invitation service. As we journey through this new year of training and formation, we thank God for these leaders and the nineteen other men and women in the accreditation and ordination formation program that God is continuing to call, transform and equip for pastoral leadership within our BUV churches.

Kathryn Jensen from Mill Park Baptist Church

Pastor Kathryn Jensen is the Care and Connect pastor Mill Park Baptist Church. She is responsible for all of the church’s pastoral care and Life Groups as well as working part-time as a counsellor at the Mill Park Community Care. Kathryn loves seeing people of all ages, stages and cultures gathered together under the name of Jesus, and sees the local church as the hope of the world.

Robyn Song from Bentleigh and Korean Baptist Church

Pastor Robyn Song is the pastor for the English service at Bentleigh and Korean Baptist Church and a serving member of the BUV multicultural ministry group. Robyn made her mark in the Baptist world by becoming one of the first ever female Korean pastors. She is a passionate advocate for women to take up their calling and be inspired for change, and for the existing church leadership to give more opportunities, training and encouragement for women to become leaders and changemakers.

Christine Wanstall from the BUV Church Health and Capacity Building Team

Pastor Christine Wanstall is part of the BUV Church Health and Capacity Building Team as a Church Health Consultant. She has been involved in a variety of church settings in both paid and volunteer positions including worship pastor, playgroup coordinator, children’s leader and women’s ministry coordinator. Christine believes strongly in the local church (both small and large and everything in-between) and works towards helping the local church into bringing the kingdom of God in all and every situation into seeing redemption and restoration happen.

Beginning a pastoral ministry during lockdown with Pastor Sally Agostino

In the middle of lockdown in July of last year, Sally Agostino was appointed as Senior Pastor at Southern Cross Community Church. Despite not being able to meet in person with her congregation, regional pastors or anyone at the BUV Support Hub, Sally was still able to engage and participate in a number of initiatives that we provided online, which allowed her to meet with other pastors and leaders.

Some of these online events included Nourish, Next Steps, Tuesday Chats and our Marriage Celebrant Training. Tuesday Chats was particularly helpful for Sally, who joined this small group of pastors who met every Tuesday afternoon to discuss up-to-the-minute issues that arose within their churches. This was also a chance for the group to encourage and support each other. Sally credits this time as vital and essential time for not just her but for each of the attending pastors who were all going through the same experiences and challenges together.

“When the second lockdown coincided with my role starting at Southern, it became a strange way to begin pastoral ministry. But thanks to the BUV Support Hub, I was able to connect with experienced pastors in a way I never would have been able to in a normal year. My first six months became a unique and pretty wonderful training ground, where I could glean wisdom from those who had been pastoring for many years. I feel so privileged to have had that start.”

Melbourne Burmese Community Unite for Democracy

On Sunday, 7 March, hundreds of people from the Melbourne Burmese community gathered together in a park in Melbourne’s west where they held a multi-faith prayer service and fundraising event to both pray and raise funds to support the pro-democracy government in Burma.

Stalls were set up selling noodles, fried snacks, desserts and drinks—all sold to raise a generous total amount of $14,000.

This collective gathering is a momentous one for the Burmese people given that the various ethnic and religious groups that the country is comprised of would normally never gather together as one. Historically, these varying groups were created by the Burmese military to incite ethnic and religious divisions that they used to undermine their democratic opposition.

For the Melbourne Burmese community to stand and pray together was their own act of peaceful defiance against this tactic of division among the people.

Even with the different opinions regarding the current democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi (some believe she’s a heroine for leading the pro-democracy movement while others are deeply suspicious of her ties with the military and her support of the genocidal violence against the Rohingya and Kachin ethnic group), the Burmese community took to prayer as a response to the current happenings back in their home country.

As violence and uncertainty rages on, the Melbourne Burmese community of all ethnic and religious backgrounds continue to stand together in prayer for genuine peace and democracy in Burma.

International Women’s Day 2021 – God’s plans are so much better than your plans for yourself

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge and we’ve invited women leaders here at the BUV to share with you their thoughts about choosing to challenge the status quo to create change.

By Joyce Choi

My name is Joyce Choi and I am a former student and now one of the newest faculty members at Whitley College. Apart from being the go-to support person for CALD students at Whitley, I am also a lecturer, teaching the English for Theology subject and the coordinator for the TransFormation program, a program which provides training for church leaders who serve in all denominations and whose first language is not English.

The journey that has led me to where I am now as a teacher and coordinator at Whitley has definitely been an interesting one, especially since my background was in Media and Communications, having graduated with a degree in one, and only a vague idea of wanting to be an influential Christian with the thought that working in media and broadcasting would be the answer.

During my time as a part-time high school tutor while studying in university, I realized that a good teacher can be one of the most influential people in a young person’s life. This then led me to getting a degree in teaching.

I grew up as a pastor’s child in an immigrant church, and I did not want the burden of ministry for my life. I tried various jobs, including teaching, but I was unsatisfied and unhappy. I had the relevant education, experience, and expertise, but it didn’t work when I wanted to use my God-given gifts in my own way. Eventually, as a last resort, I agreed to listen to my parents’ suggestion and I went ahead to do further study but this time in theology.

Studying theology was a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed all aspects of the learning experience. The most surprising thing was how my complicated life started to untangle and God’s purpose for my life started to become clearer. During the first year of my theology degree, the lecturer for English for Theology decided to retire.

When Whitley College became aware that I had experience and a degree in teaching English, I was asked to step into that role. At the same time, I was offered a part-time position at a school I really wanted to work at, which could financially provide for me while I continued my studies. For a long time, I tried so hard to find a fulfilling job, but after making a decision that I never would’ve made nor even thought about in the first place, I suddenly had two amazing jobs.

I’ve always enjoyed helping students, but my role as a lecturer for English for Theology opened up a new world for me. It is so rewarding to help students from refugee backgrounds in their theological studies, so in turn they can minister and serve their own communities. Their stories transform me, and I learn more from them every day. After teaching this unit for the last 4 years, I am excited to step into the role of Coordinator for TransFormation.

I am only starting out and still need more support and guidance, but my advice to any young woman is to listen to God. I was stubborn and wanted to live my life as I wanted, but now I realize that in doing so, I suffered needlessly. Whatever God has planned is so much better than what you have planned for yourself.

International Women’s Day 2021 – Be confident in who God made you to be

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge and we’ve invited women leaders here at the BUV to share with you their thoughts about choosing to challenge the status quo to create change.

 

Interview with Megan Stock

“There is something special in position that allows you to help others and you shouldn’t forget that.”

Pastor Megan Stock is the Associate Pastor for Operations and Integration at Narre Warren Baptist Church and is currently its acting senior pastor.

Having freshly returned from a restful and rejuvenating long-service leave with her husband as they traversed the Northern Territory and Western Australia on the road, Megan handled the challenges of her new role–from staff transitioning to the pandemic–in stride. Apart from crediting the incredible teams at both her previous church in Crossway Baptist Church and at Narre Warren Baptist Church, Megan knows full well that she would not have been able to do what she had to do (and still does) if it weren’t for God’s grace, wisdom, favour and leading in her life.

“Be confident in who God made you to be and be confident in His timing… not necessarily your ambition.”

Megan recognises that she could never have “orchestrated” the path that she finds herself in now in service, and she acknowledges that if she had seen the advertised position description for her role now, in her human thought-process, she would not have actually taken it on. But she is thankful for what she calls the “God process” wherein God, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge of not just her as a person but of His greater plans, made a way for her to be where she is now in a way that she least expected.

Much like many women pastors in ministry, Megan understands the challenges that they face in their positions of authority. Without having been officially voted in at her church, Megan sometimes questions herself as a pastor sharing the Sunday message and whether she truly does have the authority to make certain decisions for the congregation. But as she continues to grow and develop in her walk with God, she finds peace and confidence in knowing that she only needs to rely on and trust in God and not on other people’s feedback and opinions, and that it was Him who has called her to serve where she is.

As she continues her journey in servant leadership, investing in others and living a Christlike life, she encourages women, in particular, to find love and support from the truth found in the Scriptures when it comes to their calling within or outside of the church. She quotes that Jesus spent a lot of time “raising the profile of women” as He spent time with them, talked to them and treated them with love, care and respect despite their social status.

She challenges women to not fall for the lies of the world in terms of “title, the admission…or [having] the name on the door” as those are the things that get in the way of what God is doing and wants to do in their lives. Instead, she draws upon her time spent travelling where she found a rhythm of listening to messages, playing worship music and enjoying and interacting with God’s beautiful creation. Finding “real rest” in God’s presence is an imperative, particularly for those serving in full-time ministry, and she encourages others, particularly women serving in ministry, to find a time of “just being instead of striving for something”.

“We need to really recognise why God positions us in place because sometimes that’s to help other men or other women along their journey and it’s not necessarily all about us; it’s actually about helping them up. [Don’t let] yourself miss that; seeing who God wants you to help, seeing who God wants you to invest in.”