Greetings from the National Office.
Our National Conference, held earlier this month, saw 235 in attendance – from all the states of Australia, and brothers and sisters from five overseas countries. As usual, it was a time of great fellowship, reunion, and celebrating together. In addition, this was in many ways a milestone conference in the history of the journey of our fellowship here “down under”.
In this year of transition, our current Pastor General, Joseph Tkach, reflected in his first session on numerous aspects of our denominational transformation over the years, often called a modern miracle. He shared some behind the scenes details and stories of coming to understand the Trinity, the New Covenant, and women in ministry. His second session pointed forward to the future, of the challenges and growth and development still ahead of us.
Current Vice President Greg Williams, who will succeed Dr Tkach next year, gave sessions outlining what he termed “The Big Picture”, his approach and some of the restructure in mind. He spoke of the importance and need for denominational alignment – structurally and theologically. His second session focused on the importance of teams. (This is something that was intrinsic to our restructure back in 1998 here in Australia.)
Greg used the acronym REAL to encapsulate his vision of pastor-led, team-based ministry: R for the importance of Relationships, E for Enthusiasm, A for Affirmation, and L for a culture of Liberation that empowers others in ministry, and makes room for developing young leaders. We have endeavoured to encourage exactly this kind of team development locally over the years through our pastors and pastoral teams.
He also gave a sermon entitled “Taste and See that God is Good”, encouraging us to seek and celebrate the goodness of God. Tammy Tkach gave a presentation called “Plan to Imitate Christ”, discussing aspects of personal spiritual disciplines. Daphne Sidney talked to the pastors on Friday, covering the important subject of child safety protocols, and embedding child safety into the culture of our congregations. She also spoke about Mission – in particular, taking an asset-based, community empowerment model, and working in our own “back yard”, as opposed to simply sending money overseas.
I interviewed Greg twice, and Joe and Tammy. Joe spoke about the New Covenant, why we don’t observe the Hebrew calendar, and the use of language in the Bible – amongst other things. He also gave a rare insight into some of his own pain in working through the changes in our journey. Videos of these sessions will be available on our web site soon!
I was overwhelmed by how receptive and welcoming the people were toward me. It was a lovely reunion since my last visit at SEP in 1982, and I noticed a deep appreciation about our past and a very positive spirit about our future.
One conference participant succinctly summarised a lot of the comments that were made to me at the conference this way:
“The Queensland conference projected an example of seamless transition of church leadership, plus it projected an undercurrent of positive expectations and further changes in the future. The Tkachs’ interview session revealed Joe’s spontaneous, genuine tears. The tears were endearing, bonding us all. Some human details of the stories behind past doctrinal changes, helping us to understand our collective past helps us to accept where we are now plus helps gives us a clearer overview of what the future may, or could hold. Thanks to all in all directions for this “hilltop” conference as we look forward to new adventures.”
Tammy and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Queensland for our Australian Conference. It was like a family reunion and a celebration! The praise music and the worship was excellent, and the food and fellowship was abundant. Even though I retire this year, we are planning a return visit in the future.
And Tammy herself said:
Catching up with old friends and making new ones were the highlights of this conference for me. Everything was wonderful, the praise team, the food, the presentations and interviews. Being there for Daphne’s ordination was a real treat.
At the end of the conference, Heather, Daphne and I made a presentation of Thanks to the Tkachs on behalf of the Australian churches. Many ladies sent messages of affirmation to Tammy, which Heather collected as a Barnabas Box.
ACCM course in the Philippines taught by Phil Hopwood
Last weekend Phil Hopwood taught the ACCM Pastoral Care course in Tagaytay, the Philippines. Sixty people attended, including many younger leaders. Both MD Eugene Guzon and Audie Santibanez remarked on how helpful and successful the two day intensive course was.
Audie wrote: “It is the day after our ACCM Pastoral Care Class and I just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate the coming of Ptr. Phil. This is one of the classes that we need addressed currently in the Philippines. Ptr. Phil’s heart, sincerity, and passion came out wonderfully together with solid material and teaching that benefited over 50 senior pastors and church leaders.”
Phil said: “Words can’t really express the joy of being able to bring the Pastoral Care class to the pastors and pastoral team members here in this area of the Philippines. The attendees were a big part of that, as well as Rex and Audie. Audie is an excellent host and organiser, and Rex, as you know, brings a special authenticity, and open humility and vulnerability that communicates well.
We had 60 in attendance. The initial estimate was around 25. Around 30% were young emerging leaders, so it was a great mix of youth and experience. We started on Friday night with an introduction, worship and the first session on the Trinitarian underpinnings of pastoral care. This allowed us to finish early on Sunday.
The feedback and response from those present was humbling and deeply affirming for me, and hopefully for the others as well. They very much appreciate the gentler, incarnational, accompanying and nurturing approach we continually emphasised, as well as the importance of understanding we are participants in God’s work, and not the authors and finishers of member’s problems etc.”
Here’s a link to a lovely interview with Phil and Eugene after the Intensive:
Phil will be teaching the course in Kuala Lumpur this weekend, before travelling on to take the class to Thailand and India. He will then return to the Philippines to teach the Preaching class there. And the Philippines want more! We are excited to see these developments, and how Greg Williams sees and supports ACCM as a core element for training our ministry leaders around the world.
Wishing you God’s blessings, as we continue our journey of faith and transformation into Jesus Christ, participating with him in the Father’s work here on earth.