We kicked off October Gathering on 18 October with Nourish where we spent the day with our pastors (and their spouses) to “Imagine” the possibilities and impact of being part of a movement of flourishing churches in Victoria together.
Our BUV Director of Mission & Ministries, Rev Daniel Bullock, led us in opening our minds to new possibilities by dreaming of what our churches might look like if we invited God to inspire those dreams for our Church, and to imagine how the Church might then flourish beyond all expectations.
Daniel said: “I have a dream of flourishing Baptist churches in every corner of Victoria – produce passionate disciples who will bring hope and transformation to our world, and I am looking forward to hearing the great stories of transformed lives and communities and I hope you share my dream, not only for your church but for all churches.”
Using John 15, Dr Lynn Moresi from Whitley College encouraged us to imagine our churches transformed with Christ-like disciples whose encounters with all those around us were characterised by the love and welcome of Jesus.
Following a tasty and satisfying lunch, and a relaxed opportunity to catch up with colleagues and friends, Rev Dr David Talathoti invited us all to imagine our churches filled with people from all cultures who felt a sense of belonging and identity. He used the example of Dandenong Church welcoming members of their local community to weekly events, where many have found acceptance and friendship beyond the limitations of their cultural and religious restrictions.
Rev Carolyn Francis from Collins Street Baptist Church capped off Nourish by inviting us to imagine what it could look like to see a whole society redeemed and transformed by the faithful and genuine witness of all believers to the crucified and risen Christ.
“I valued the reminder that we are witnesses to redemption when, to people living in fear and confusion, we offer our vulnerability, woundedness, and peace.”
– Rev Alison Sampson, Sanctuary Baptist Church
In the evening, over 300 delegates attended the Members’ Dinner where we voted for Mick Turnbull to be reappointed as a member of the Union Council for another three years. We also thanked Rev Dr Allan Demond for his six years of service to the BUV as a member of Union Council and we invited nomination for a new Union Council member by Friday, 8thNovember.
Debbie Uy, Director of Finance and Administration, presented the proposed 2020 Pastoral Stipends and proposed 2020 Membership Fee. The Assembly accepted both proposals by show of hands.
Rev Daniel Bullock provided an update on the Baptist Identity Project. He thanked churches for their input at the five Consultation Forums and confirmed that the current doctrinal statements and principles and ideals of faith documents will remain with a revision of wording and phrasing using modern language.
Our discussion topic for the evening was centred around Climate Change with Dr Keith Dyer from Whitley College, presenting on the Biblical and theological reflection. He pointed out eschatological misreading on heaven and rapture as not biblical, and stressed the earth needs redemption not annihilation.
We celebrated and welcomed three new constituent churches: Kangaroo Flat Karen Baptist Church, Grace Baptist Church of Melbourne and Zomi Mission Church; three faith communities: Melbourne Agape Baptist Church, Ebenezer Karen Baptist Church and Radiant Church; and two new Missional Communities: Sandy Life Baptist Church and Social foundry. We also farewelled Thurgoona Baptist Church.
The evening concluded with Rev Daniel Bullock sharing a new vision for the BUV: “To be a union of flourishing churches with Christlike followers, that redeems society and brings transformation to Victoria.” He encouraged churches to use the Flourishing Church Framework to measure themselves and back up the rating with current stories of transformation.
“I am convinced that every church in our Union has some good news stories of transformation to share, I am convinced that most churches are flourishing in some shape or form. But I am also sure that we are not flourishing to the fullness of God’s intention and I want to make sure we in the Union office are directing our resources to help change that.”
This framework will be communicated to all churches in 2020 as an assessment tool.
“I found the day both encouraging and inspiring. The BUV’s vision and flourishing church framework resonates well and will help us with our own visioning.”
– Rev Paul Llewellyn, Knox Community Baptist Church