Leading the way for the North West RMF was Rev Graeme Semple who, together with 12 pastors, 3 spouses and 4 from the BUV staff, gathered together at Kerang Baptist Church to fellowship together. Here is his recap of the gathering:
Despite the RMF needing to be cut short due to Victoria’s snap lockdown announcement, the gathering of regional pastors was still a great event. The Kerang Baptist Church was an excellent and generous host and everyone valued and appreciated their hospitality. There was great food and coffee shared, and each of the attending pastors expressed their appreciation for the investment made into their lives by the BUV staff.
On Thursday morning the group gathered together for breakfast and then quietly reflected on a passage of scripture before getting into groups to share and pray.
Rev Daniel Bullock facilitated a couple of sessions looking at the big, strategic picture of who the BUV is and the vision and mission of the union and how we relate to the churches. He also reflected on the recent church survey on flourishing churches, which generated great conversation and questions throughout.
On Friday evening, Regional Pastor, Graeme Semple led a spiritual reflection followed by a time of fun with an Olympic-themed games night. This brought out the competitive side of the pastors, and the overall winner was none other than our own Rev Daniel Bullock. Who said he isn’t competitive!
Suspecting that the plan for a 3 day event may be cut short, the programme was adapted and adjusted. Certain discussion and fellowship times were prioritised, particularly regarding how everyone was navigating the uncertainties of the pandemic within their own churches. Providing each person a chance to reflect and to be encouraged by one another was definitely a highlight.
Kimberly Smith, the BUV’s Next Generations and Emerging Leaders Pastor, facilitated a great session on emerging leaders and the training processes that are available to support emerging leaders. Again, this created great conversation and questions amongst the pastors.
Finally, Andrew Naylor, BUV Partnerships Development Pastor, shared the BUV’s partnership development programs and ways in which the churches can take part including church planting, gifts and wills, supporting communities affected by the bushfires and a general report on the development of missional communities and churches across Victoria.
During our meal times it was great to hear testimonies from some rural pastors and what churches are doing within their own communities. One particular event that is being planned is called the MADRIDE, an initiative of MADCOW (Bendigo Baptist Community Care) and Bendigo Baptist. This event will promote their work in raising support for those in need especially amongst the homeless. This will be a group of 30 people cycling from Bendigo to Townsville in Queensland. If you are keen to join the riding group you can find out more details at www.madride.madcow.org.au or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The RMF concluded with a beautiful meal and communion before being released to return home. Despite the lockdown and having to shut down earlier than planned, there was a great sense of belonging and hope for the future of the North West Victoria region of Baptist churches.