FROM THE NEWLIFE CHURCH COUNCIL (ELDERS)
It is with much sadness I need to inform you that, that after more than 14 years serving Newlife as our Lead Minister, Stu Cameron has accepted a call to lead Wesley Mission Sydney as its Superintendent Minister/CEO from January 2021, commencing a handover in November 2020. I want to stress that Stu will continue as our Lead Minister until that time.
Whilst this is not something we had anticipated, we recognize the call on Stu’s life to be a leader in God’s mission and we acknowledge that we have been blessed tremendously to have a pastor of his capacity play a significant part in growing Newlife to become the church that it is today. To Stu and Sue, we are eternally grateful – THANK YOU.
Stu has written a letter to you sharing his and Sue’s heart as they have prayerfully discerned this decision. Once you have finished reading this letter, we urge you to read it.
We are communicating this news as soon as is practical as his appointment at Wesley Mission has only been confirmed this past week.
Since learning of the likelihood of this call being extended to Stu, the church council (Elders) have been meeting regularly to hear from God, pray earnestly for wisdom, and consider the process of appointing our next leader as we seek to live out Vision 2030. We are totally committed to the vision of one family, many churches, a plan that we believe God has ordained for Newlife. Our confidence is in God, the one who has prepared and planned in advance a vision for us to fulfill. Jesus has declared He will build His church. We thank God for that.
As a church we are blessed with a fantastic team leading our churches, including Stu, Mike, Scott and Jon. With faith we believe that as we continue to be obedient in our love for, and commitment to Jesus, he will continue to bless us during this transition – that we will continue to see more people more like Jesus. Together we urge you to keep the faith to which we have been entrusted.
The Elders are actively engaged in a period of discernment in this season. We will consult with, and engage external advice from church leaders who have walked this journey before. We will consult with the Presbytery and those we believe can provide valuable insight into the path we seek to take. We will continue to work with Stu, Mike and the team as we discern our next steps. I stress that any recommendations regarding new leadership will ultimately be a decision for the congregation at a meeting of its members.
This Sunday we had scheduled a meeting of the congregation immediately after our Gold Coast 10am celebration. We will now be holding that meeting via our online church platform, commencing at 12noon. The meeting will enable us – the Elders, Stu and Mike – to share with you more information about the transition we are entering into, as well as the steps to appoint a new senior leader for Newlife.
In conclusion, please pray for Stu, Mike and the leaders of Newlife. We will be meeting as often as necessary as we fervently seek God’s will for this season at Newlife and begin the next chapter in our family’s future. Rest assured we will keep you fully informed along the way. We thank you for your prayers, your participation, and your encouragement during this process.
Be assured of our daily and ongoing prayer for you and your family as our nation and world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic. Through it all our faith is in Jesus.
Rick van Drimmelen
FROM STU AND SUE
This is a letter Sue and I never thought I would be writing, certainly not now. As you will have read in Rick’s letter, after much prayer and a lot of tears, I have accepted the call to be the Superintendent Minister/CEO for Wesley Mission from January 2021, commencing a handover in November 2020. I will share more about my new role later in my letter, but for now I want to share my heart.
A little over fifteen years ago, Newlife (then known as Robina-Surfers Paradise Uniting Church) took an enormous step of faith when it issued a call to a 38-year-old, freshly ordained minister who had never led a church of any size – me – to be its Lead Minister. I was a leader with ‘L’ plates.
The years since have been the most incredible adventure of faith, for me and for us. God has been faithful, always and in all ways. You have loved us, prayed for us and supported us. You have been, and continue to be family to us. Thank you! The thought of leaving you is heart-wrenching, but we believe God is sending us to Wesley, and in accepting the call our motivation is to be obedient to God, no matter the cost. Let me share more of the journey.
Last September a recruitment firm working for Wesley asked if I would be willing for my name to be added to a long list of potential candidates for the role. After praying about it with Sue, I said no, feeling peaceful about that decision. Then, in late October the chair of the Wesley Board rang me and asked me to reconsider. After praying some more and consulting with trusted mentors we decided to enter the discernment process, which unfolded from November through to January this year.
Along the way, God has slowly shifted our hearts, to the point where when Wesley indicated they would like to issue a call, we were ready to say yes. There was no audible voice from heaven, but critically we heard the still, small voice of God directing us through scripture, prayer, journaling and conversations with trusted mentors.
Over the last couple of months I have said to Sue on numerous occasions, especially after we have come home after a worship gathering on the Gold Coast or in Brisbane or visiting Coolangatta, ‘Why would we ever want to leave Newlife?’ Here’s the thing – we would never leave Newlife – other than believing God was sending us to a new assignment. That is where we are.
Right now our hearts are filled with grief, gratitude and love. Our grief is real and profound. Over the last few days I have cried a lifetime of tears as we have shared our news with our ministry and staff team. And we know that grief will be magnified in coming months as we prepare to say farewell to all of you – our church family. As hard as it is, this is a good thing, because our grief is born out of gratitude and love.
There is so much we are grateful for – the hundreds of transformed lives celebrated in baptism, the churches planted, the incredible team I have served alongside, the deep friendships and pastoral connections made, the developing unity amongst Gold Coast churches – the list is long. Above all, we are grateful to God. Years ago a scripture was prophetically spoken over me – ‘I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.’ (1 Timothy 1:12) That God appointed me to serve you these years is one of the greatest gifts and privileges of my life.
And there is so much we love. More to the point, so many people we love – you and your family included. In return, thank you for loving us. You have blessed us beyond measure.
What does this all mean for Newlife? Our vision remains the same – to see more people, more like Jesus. We still passionately believe that Vision 2030 is God’s idea – that Newlife will be one family, many churches – a multiplying movement. We believe God will continue to build his church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I truly believe that Newlife’s best and most fruitful years are to come.
Newlife is blessed with an incredible team of Elders. Over the past few months they have loved and led Sue and I, and our church, so beautifully and well. Together with our presbytery, they will oversee both the transition season and the process to appoint a new senior leader for Newlife. I have every confidence in them.
Newlife is also blessed with an outstanding ministry and staff team. You know that. I know they are determined to lead and serve you with excellence, empowered by the Spirit as they do so. For the last few years Mike has led our church superbly in my absences on annual and long service leave. I will continue to lean into him, Jon, Scott, Liz, Rob and Corey as together we offer leadership to our ministry and staff team, and through them, our church.
Let me assure you that until Sue and I move to Sydney, I will be giving all I can to lead Newlife well – relying on God’s strength. In accepting a call to Wesley I will not be turning off, but rather stepping up – especially given the particular challenges presented because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here is what I would ask of all of you who call Newlife your spiritual home in this season – continue to gather, pray and love. Gather weekly with us for online church and other announced gatherings. We are committed to keeping you up to date and fully informed along the way. Pray – for our Elders, for Mike and our team, for me and for our church – that God would continue to lead us by his grace. Finally, and above all, love – love one another and our neighbors as Christ has loved us. God’s perfect love casts out all fear!
Before I finish I will share a little about the role I will be moving to. Wesley Mission, based in Sydney and part of the Uniting Church, is a large city based family of congregations, with 1500 in weekend worship, as well as one of Australia’s oldest and largest community services organisations, with more than 2300 staff across NSW and Australia. Wesley is thoroughly evangelical in its convictions and expression of faith. In my new role I will be leading all of Wesley’s congregational life and community services ministries. You can find out more at https://www.wesleymission.org.au/
Thank you for your continued partnership in the gospel. I look forward to gathering with you online this Sunday at 10am, 4pm and 6pm for worship. In addition, I strongly encourage you to attend our online meeting of the congregation this Sunday at 12noon via the link provided in Rick’s letter. We know too well that meeting this way is a poor substitute for being in the same room together, but we believe it is critical we have an opportunity to share with you more and to hear and respond to your questions.
Be assured of my daily prayers for you and your family. We are all facing an incredible season of challenge. But God is with us, and will never leave nor forsake us.
Finally, a word of encouragement, not from me, but from God’s Word. It’s a personal promise for each one of us.
‘Come near to God, and God will come near to you.’ (James 4:8)
In these challenging times, on so many fronts, I simply want to remind you of our God’s amazing promise through Jesus. Any time we draw near to God – our loving God will come near to us. Always has; always will. Thanks be to God!
Grace and Peace