Allen Sibley / 2024 Chair

The 2023 the Assembly Council included: 

  • Jamie Long (Chair) 
  • Mark Azzi (Vice Chair) 
  • Allen Sibley (Vice Chair) 
  • Allyson Beddoe 
  • Tim Blencowe (resigned in March) 
  • Catherine Casey (commenced from May Assembly) 
  • Omar Djoeandy 
  • Angelo Gratsounas (Chair – Morling College Council) 
  • Andrew Hall (term concluded in May) 
  • Matthew J Kennedy 
  • Matthew W Kennedy (commenced from May Assembly)  
  • Jonny Lam (term concluded in May) 
  • Edwina Murphy (commenced from May Assembly) 
  • David Slinn 

Attending Council 

  • Steve Bartlett (Director of Ministries) 
  • Ross Clifford (until May) and Tim MacBride (from May) as Principal, Morling College 
  • Geoff Moore (Honorary Legal Advisor) 
  • Fanny Wong (Secretary) 

During 2023 the Assembly Council (AC) continued to address the matter that has dominated the work of the Council for the past three years, being the issues surrounding affiliation, Baptist values and marriage.  This has involved the development of the processes by which the decisions already made will be enacted. No one should underestimate the complexity of working through such issues in an association such as ours. 

The Association team, under the excellent leadership of our Director of Ministries, Steve Bartlett, continues to manage the day-to-day work of the Association with diligence and wisdom. We have been blessed to have a great team supporting Steve, with a strong focus on the Association’s Gen1K vision, through which we have many new fellowships and Churches in various forms being planted and fostered. AC is deeply thankful for the contribution all employees and volunteers to the work of the Association. 

AC continued to oversee the governance required for the healthy operation of the Association and support of local churches. In particular, we acknowledge the work of the Association team to develop and update many new policies, procedures, training programs, IT systems, and support services, much of which is required in response to the increasing regulatory and compliance requirements that all Churches are faced with. 

Baptist Financial Services continues to be an essential ministry partner who enables so many ministries and Churches through provision of financial services, as well as the work of the Association through very substantial grants and management of investments.  We thank BFS for their invaluable contribution to the work of the Association.  

The former Principal of Morling College, Ross Clifford, concluded his long and fruitful tenure as Principal in 2023. AC would like to express its thanks for his always thoughtful and often thought-provoking contribution.  We welcome Tim MacBride to the Council and are appreciating him being part of the team and bringing his perspectives to our meetings. 

We farewelled Tim Blencowe, Andrew Hall and Jonny Lam as Council members during the year, and thank them for their service and contributions to the Council. We welcomed Dr Catherine Casey from Parramatta City Church, Dr Edwina Murphy from Blakehurst Baptist Church and Pastor Matthew W Kennedy from Parkes Baptist Church as new Council members. The time and effort involved for Council members is significant, and if you have the opportunity to thank a Council member for their contribution, please do so. 

Our long-serving Chair of AC, Jamie Long, concluded his service as a Chair at the end of 2023.  He steps down from Council at the 2024 Annual Assembly, having served the maximum number of consecutive terms. His wise, calm, and Godly leadership has been of great blessing to the work of AC and the Association. We deeply thank him and uphold him and Kirsten in prayer in their new season of ministry at Epping Baptist in 2024. 

As AC we prayerfully seek God’s guidance in all that we do, asking the Holy Spirit to guide our meetings and conversations, striving to be followers and servants of Jesus, and earthly facilitators of his purposes.  We deeply appreciate your ongoing prayers, support, and encouragement. 

Jenny Casey / AOT Chair & Team Leader - Pastoral Affirmations

The Affirmation Oversight Team (AOT) is a standing committee of the Assembly Council, charged with considering and determining matters related to the accreditation and recognition of ministers for the Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT.  

In 2023, the Affirmation Oversight Team met 11 times and consisted of the following: 

Voting members: 

  • Ted Bell
  • Jenny Casey (Chair)
  • Min-Ha Choo (stepped down in April 2023)
  • Rev Dr Ross Clifford (Morling rep from in Jan 2023 during Keith Mitchell’s study leave)
  • Keith Jobberns
  • Di Marshall (joined in March 2023)
  • Chris McGowan  
  • Keith Mitchell (study leave January 2023, stepped down December 2023)
  • David Starling (joined in December 2023 following Keith Mitchell’s departure) 

Ex-Officio Non-Voting Members: 

  • Stephen Bartlett
  • Craig Corkill 

One of the ongoing responsibilities for the Affirmation Oversight Team is to conduct interviews for those pursuing ministry affirmation. This was the final year of conducting both accreditation and recognition interviews. In future, under the new process, all interviews will be for recognition candidates, with those proceeding to accreditation from recognition undergoing a supplementary interview, rather than the three panels for recognition applicants. 

In 2023 the AOT and other volunteers interviewed seven transfer of accreditation applicants, four applicants for accreditation and 10 applicants for recognition. These interviews could not take place without dedicated volunteers, and we are very grateful to those who give their time and expertise in order for these interviews to take place. 

The AOT is a very hard-working group, composed almost totally of volunteers, as are many of the working bodies of our Association. In addition, there are a number of other volunteers who serve alongside AOT members on interview panels. On interview days members will frequently be interviewing and meeting from 9am until 5pm. They work hard to create a culture of affirmation, while also bringing wisdom and discernment to the process. We are blessed to have such a committed group. 

The Affirmation Oversight Team would also like to publicly acknowledge the work of a number of employees of the Association: Rev Jonathan Bradford, Ministry Standards Manager; Krystyna Kidson, Resident Psychologist; Fiona Gardner, administrator of the affirmations processes; Dan Waugh, Continuing Ministerial Development administrator and Leadership Incubator overseer; and Rev Craig Corkill, Associate Director of the Discipleship & Leadership Development group. All bring expertise, wisdom and enthusiasm to the affirmation processes, and serve our pastors and leaders with grace and warmth. 

Jamie Long / Outgoing Chair of Assembly Council

It proved valuable to work with a larger nominations Committee over the past 12 months.  The Committee has been made up of Jenny Casey, Steve Bartlett, Allyson Beddoe, Jamie Long, Alan Rice and Allen Sibley. The task of finding nominees from Assembly Council and other committees is not easy. While there are many gifted and capable people within the Baptist movement, it is always a challenge to find the right people for the right places. Often people are already engaged with other ministries and unable to give the time and energy that is required. That said, the expanded nominations committee has had some success at finding excellent nominees either to bring to Assembly or, where appropriate, for appointment to Council.  

The Nominations Committee is first and foremost seeking to discern the Lord’s direction in this. As part of that discernment process the committee has a skills matrix to help think through the issues. The committee has also been concerned to improve the balance of Assembly Council by enabling more female representation.  

In February 2024 Allen Sibley took over the chairing responsibilities for this committee as part of his role as chair of Assembly Council. Allen has a heart for the Lord and a great deal of governance experience. I am confident that both this committee and Assembly Council are in safe hands.