Rev Grae McWhirter – Associate Director 


The ongoing changing world we’ve been living through has tested and challenged all of our leaders. It has reminded me that recognising, raising, releasing, and resourcing leaders is as important as ever – if not more so!   

I’m so grateful to have been able to work towards this aim with our Leadership Development Group Team Leaders in 2021: Shelley Ashton (Team Leader: SRE), Louise Bartlett (Team Leader: Children and Family Ministries), Jenny Casey (Team Leader: Ministry Affirmation) and Steve Dixon (Team Leader: Youth and Young Adults Ministries), and the many faithful and gifted people they lead in their own teams. You can read more about the work of their teams in their individual reports.   

During 2021 we supported pastors and leaders through personal connection as well as with programs and events like our monthly Insights Zoom meeting, the Leadership Conversations Conference, The Gathering and various opportunities to be trained, coached, or mentored.  

During all or part of 2021, 48 of our churches were searching for a solo or senior pastor. Of those, 18 called a new leader. 18 of the 48 churches continued with or engaged an interim pastor to lead them through the time of transition.   

Also, during the past year, we finalised our project of rewriting the Accreditation Guidelines and we will be presenting new Affirmation of Ministry Guidelines to the May Assembly in 2022.   

We’re looking forward to Craig Corkill joining the team as Associate Director Discipleship and Leader Development in 2022 as we continue to invest in recognising, raising, releasing, and resourcing leaders towards seeing 1000 healthy churches in a generation.  

In the midst of COVID, 2021 was also a year of restructure for the Association staff team, to enable growth.  This has allowed greater focus on support and ministry at a regional level as the Gen1K vision for multiplication is embedded more and more in our movement’s culture.  I want to pay tribute to each and every staff member whose commitment to our mission in the midst of change and disruption this year has been nothing short of extraordinary. 

COVID again proved a challenge to mission and ministry, with patterns of engagement disrupted across churches. Our Association team has spent significant energy supporting, encouraging and standing with leaders navigating this season.  And as a movement we continue to have challenging and complex issues before us that we are seeking to work through together. 

If I was to highlight one final thing that has most excited me about 2021 it would be this: for the first time ever, leaders and members from across our churches joined together in 3 online prayer gatherings.  I am reminded again that our efforts in mission, if not accompanied, covered and protected in prayer, will be of little eternal consequence.  God moves as his people pray.  May it be so for us as we continue to pursue his Kingdom vision for us together in the times ahead.


Rev Steve Dixon, Team Leader 


What a year to navigate in youth and young adult ministry!!!  

We had a real mix of experiences supporting those leading young people this year.   

Our annual conference had to be transitioned to an online event which was indicative of how we connected with pastors and leaders across the year. Through this time, we were able to continue to prioritise starting the year together with a focus on collaboration, discernment, and aligning our hearts with the things of God.    

It was with real excitement and gratitude that we saw the expansion of our team to give greater attention to the support and resourcing of our churches through the appointment of volunteer workers for our Sydney churches. We welcomed Annie Hunter (Springwood), Jasmine Round (Georges River), Stephen Cole (Windsor), Will Tugwell (Thornleigh), and Ben Wilson (Parramatta) – we appreciate the willingness of their churches to release them for our movement in this way. The focus of these roles in ensuring youth pastors are known and connected, as well as proactively looking for ways for youth ministries to work together in ministry and mission.   

We also saw the commencement of Sarah Alarcon as the Impact Gap Year Director as well as Emma Donaldson and Eliseo Juan Ramirez as Impact Gap Year Coaches. This initative is a partnership with Morling College that is intentionally focused on the formation of young adults in the areas of growing faith, personal development, engagement in community, and opportunity in ministry. It is designed for young adults aged 17-21 and is all about seeing young adults growing and thriving as they step into all that God has for them.   

The next instalment of our annual State Youth Camp was again an online experience with messages from Rach Stuhr (Auburn) and Scotty Daniels (Cherrybrook) on the theme of ‘All.’ Youth Pastors again shared with us the life-changing experiences for their young people with every group able to identify the impact the camp has made on the teenagers they work with. Additionally, our State Youth Camp continues to provide significant opportunities for younger pastors and leaders to continue to develop in their ministry skills.   

It is a privilege to lead this team and to be part of what God is doing in and through our youth and young adult work across our movement.   


Louise Bartlett, Team Leader  


The children and family ministries team exists to help churches welcome children as fellow disciples. In 2021 our energy was focused on supporting and resourcing leaders in another difficult season.   

2021 was a disrupted year for ministry with children. There was significant transition in children’s ministry teams as well as concern from parents about being part of gatherings when their children were not vaccinated. The Children and Family Ministry team created retreats, resources, shared stories, provided coaching and advice, partnered with Morling College and other denominations in training leaders and advocated for a way forward that emphasised children and the nurturing of their faith.  

For a number of children in our churches there has been the loss of anchor points in their faith community and many peak experiences like kid’s clubs, camps and special church events cancelled. Some children have had limited interaction with other generations in the church for close to two years. Leaders’ despite being weary of facing ever changing restrictions and uncertainty have continued to look for creative ways to strengthen belonging and discipleship and sought to experiment with new ways of promoting lifelong faith and discipleship.  

The pandemic has shaped the church and will have significant impact on the faith formation of this generation of children. Now is the time to look for and implement Spirit inspired ways of being the church that genuinely encourages the flourishing of faith in children. The Kids and Family Ministries team looks forward to supporting churches as we go forward. 


Rev. Jenny Casey, Team Leader 


COVID provided some considerable challenges for us all, and the accreditation & recognition of ministers was no exception. Unfortunately, lockdown stalled interviews in 2021, as the Committee for the Ministry has a policy of interviewing applicants in person. It is hoped that the delayed interviews will be conducted as early as is safely possible in 2022.  

In spite of these challenges many positive things took place: 

  • The Accreditation Review is drawing to a conclusion. Many people have been involved in this, by providing feedback, sitting on panels to look at various areas of the process, and helping in the re-write of the process. The recommendations leading from this will be ready to go to Assembly in 2022. 
  • COVID restrictions led to the cancellation of the 2021 Accreditation Service. An online acknowledgement was held with representatives from the Assembly Council, Morling College, the Committee for the Ministry, and the Baptist Association where the 16 accreditands were honoured, prayed for, and encouraged, having achieved this significant milestone.  
  • In 2021 the Pastoral Affirmation team at the Baptist Association changed significantly. After a great many years of service Ros Allibone concluded in June. Later in the year Fiona Gardner and Maria Matherson joined the team and are looking after various aspects of the admin for both the affirmation process & the Committee for the Ministry.  
  • Krystyna Kidson joined the team as the resident psychologist. She is providing valuable insight both in the interviews for applicants, but also to the wider Association. 

We continue to be encouraged by the number of leaders who are answering God’s call on their lives, and approach leadership with integrity & truth. We are blessed as an Association in the calibre of leaders, both established and emerging. 


Shelley Ashton, Team Leader  


2021 proved another challenging year for SRE teachers across the state from the end of Term 1 until Term 4 we were again out of schools and awaiting lockdown restrictions to lift. Fortunately, there were some teachers across the state that were able to return in Term 4 of 2021 but in many cases, many did not get to return.  

With the added mandate around vaccines, we have teachers currently unable to return when SRE is allowed to resume.  

Despite the inability to teach SRE for most of the year our team was busy providing training to hundreds of teachers across the state from many denominations, through both our online self-directed course and on zoom. COVID did brings some positives in that we were able to access teachers from the length and breadth of the state in ways that we were unable pre pandemic. We also continued our responsibilities to the Association in asking teachers to complete the required compliance documents that were now in addition to their training requirements. This included the Code of Conduct, Screening Questionnaire, and formal pastor endorsement.  

In August last year we welcomed Frances Schramko to our team. Frances looks after all our admin tasks and has been a great asset to our team! Lysander continues to support our teachers in the High School space and spent a lot of 2021 reviewing curriculum, connecting with high school teachers, and supporting them where he was able.  

We prayerfully seek God’s direction for SRE in 2022 with a couple of key prayer needs to ask everyone to consider. Firstly, with the new vaccine mandate we have lost a number of teachers. We would dearly love to see others in our Baptist churches see the value of SRE and want to be involved. Secondly with COVID a return to school will be with restrictions and protocols in place that will need to be navigated by SRE teachers also.  

We expectantly await God’s leading and look forward to SRE continuing in our schools in 2022