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Stu Cameron

More About Stu’s New Role

Earlier this year I accepted the call to serve as the next Superintendent Minister/CEO for Wesley Mission, succeeding Rev Keith Garner who is retiring from the role after 15 years of exemplary service. My transition into the position will commence on November 2 learning through a handover period alongside Keith, culminating after Christmas this year when I will take on all the responsibilities of the role.

This year unfolding as it has means I’ve been limited in my ability to share the range and scope of the role I have been called into, which I will attempt to redress a little now. Wesley Mission is a remarkable organisation with an incredible history that has been served by some of Australia’s most admired Christian leaders. Previous Superintendent Ministers have included Rev Gordon Moyes and Rev Sir Alan Walker. To be called to serve as the next Superintendent Minister/CEO is a humbling privilege.

Thoroughly evangelical in its theological convictions and public witness, Wesley Mission enjoys a heritage spanning more than 200 years, tracing its history back to the very first Methodist Church established in Australia in 1812. Based in the heart of Sydney, the majority of its ministry serves the people of NSW, but also includes programs and staff serving in other states and territories.

Drawing directly from the inspiration of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, the purpose of Wesley Mission is to continue the work of Jesus Christ in Word and deed in seeking to “do all the good you can by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” This purpose is fulfilled through the ministries of Wesley Congregational Life and Wesley Community Services, both of which I will lead as Superintendent Minister/CEO. 

Wesley Mission has 10 congregations with total average weekly attendance of 1500 (pre-Covid), meeting both in the Sydney CBD as well as suburban locations. The CBD based congregations meeting in Pitt Street and are blessed with facilities including a 900-seat theatre and a 250-seat chapel, as well as an extensive number of other rooms. Services are conducted in English, Mandarin, Indonesian and Samoan. Worship styles across the congregations ranges from contemporary and charismatic to more traditional. Wesley congregations are made up of people from diverse backgrounds, including many who find a spiritual home at Wesley who would struggle to ‘fit’ in a more conventional church.

As Superintendent Minister I will be responsible for leading all of Wesley’s congregational life, serving alongside a team of ministers, pastors and other staff.  I will be working closely with the Senior Minister, Rev Dr Rick Dacey. As has been the case at Newlife, I will be preaching most weekends.  Where and when will be worked out when I commence and get a sense of how I can be most helpful.

Wesley Community Services is served by 2300 staff, 3000 volunteers, has an annual budget in excess of $230 million resourcing more than 130 different programs, serving 15,000 people in need every month. Ministries include counselling, homelessness, employment, disabilities, residential aged care, mental health and education services – to name just some. Wesley is one of the largest providers of foster care services in NSW and has established, and now resources 101 Lifeforce suicide prevention networks across Australia. Lifeline 24/7 suicide prevention, now a global initiative, was established by Wesley Mission.

As CEO I will be responsible for leading Wesley Community Services, working closely with the board and Chief Operating Officer, Chris England as well as a senior management team. I will be responsible for managing Wesley’s relationships with politicians (local, state, federal), government departments and other social sector leaders. Leading such a significant ministry is going to be both a steep learning curve and a wonderful privilege.

Former Prim Minister of Australia, John Howard, is the Patron and actively involved in supporting the mission and ministry of Wesley Mission.

Another significant part of my role will be media ministry. Working with a team, I will be responsible for producing a half hour TV program called Wesley Impact, which currently is broadcast nationally on Channel 9 at 5.30am each Sunday morning. Currently Wesley Impact comprises musical items, interviews with well-known Australians and other guests and stories of Wesley’s extensive work and witness. Every Easter Wesley Mission broadcasts nationally on the Seven Network a Sunrise Service from the Opera House, where I will be preaching. I am already nervous! I will be the primary media spokesperson for Wesley.

Sue and I will be living in a manse provided for the Superintendent Minister in the lower north shore suburb of Roseville. My primary office location is in Pitt Street in the CBD, a short walk from the mall.

In summary, in my role as Superintendent Minister/CEO for Wesley Mission I will be responsible for, amongst other things, leading the senior leadership team, developing and executing vision and strategy, preaching and communication and spiritual leadership for both congregational life and community services. I will be working closely with a wonderful Board (Community Services), Mission Council (Congregational Life) and leadership team, many of whom I have met already, in a city I know Sue and I will come to love.

We covet your prayers – that God would use us for his glory and that Wesley Mission will continue to flourish and profoundly impact our nation with the love of Christ.

You can find out more about Wesley Mission here: https://www.wesleymission.org.au/

Lead Minister – FAQ

The Joint Nominating Committee (JNC) appointed to lead the search for a new Lead Minister has developed this document to address the ‘frequently asked questions’ about the process that is underway.

THE POSITION

Why are we needing to call a new lead minister?

Rev. Stu Cameron has accepted a call as superintendent minister of Wesley Mission, Sydney, commencing 1/11/20.

What are the selection criteria for the lead minister? Can I see the position description?

The position description was drafted by Stu and approved by the Newlife Elders, Presbytery’s Pastoral Relations Committee and the Synod Placements Committee. The PD indicates the key responsibilities and selection criteria. It is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYJZk5NwPOPo_TX5nei7XdqKnyVJXOnH/view?usp=sharing

Who determines the lead pastor’s salary and conditions (manse, car etc)?

Standard terms and conditions apply to every ministry placement in the Qld Synod of the Uniting Church, with flexibility on some matters (e.g., providing a house or paying a housing allowance; providing a car or paying a travel allowance; providing a phone and laptop, etc). Some matters may arise in the JNC conversation which are negotiated as part of a condition of call. These need to be ratified by the Church Council (Newlife elders). The Letter of Call to the minister lists the final set of terms and conditions.

How long is the new lead minister appointment for (e.g. 5 years? 10 years?)

A Uniting Church ministry placement is for up to 10 years. This may be extended by decision of the Presbytery, after consultation. After 5 years in a placement, a minister may be asked to consider a possible call elsewhere but they are not obliged to do so. Rev. Stu Cameron was granted two extensions (after 10 and 15 years).

THE PROCESS

What is a JNC and how is it selected?

A Joint Nominating Committee is the body elected to discern who to recommend to the Congregation for call to a ministry placement. The JNC comprises up to 6 members from the Congregation (elected by the Congregation or the Church Council), and 2 elected by the Presbytery. One of the Presbytery representatives chairs the JNC.

This JNC comprises 6 from Newlife and 2 from South Moreton Presbytery, one of whom, Rev. David Busch (the Presbytery Minister) is the Chair.

What is the usual UCA placements process and is that the process being followed here?

The UCA’s ministry placements process is outlined in the national Regulations and Qld Synod information, all publicly available. The UCA Regulations are on the web here (see Section 2.6 starting on page 105). This web page lists documents relevant to JNCs and the placements process as applied in Qld. The most relevant one for general information is this one: Newlife JNC is using the decentralised pathway which gives greater flexibility to the JNC (see Section 9).

Rev. Stu Cameron, Rev. Brad Foote and previous Newlife ministers were all called according to the usual UCA placements process.

Where was the position advertised and for how long?

The position was advertised within Newlife (email, Facebook, website blog); Presbytery of South Moreton Facebook; Uniting Church Qld Synod Facebook and ‘available placements’ list; Uniting News (Qld Synod broadscale weekly email); Christian Jobs Australia and Eternity jobs market (Bible Society). It was sent to the Propel Network and other Synods with a request to circulate. This was all instigated by June 11 and the closing date for applications was July 10.

Who was eligible to apply?

Applications were openly invited from people within and outside the Uniting Church, and from within and outside Newlife, lay and ordained, men and women.

Were particular individuals encouraged to apply? Was anyone ‘head-hunted’?

Members of the JNC do not actively solicit applications, but there is nothing to stop other people from encouraging suitable candidates to apply. The 1-month window was designed to maximise the opportunity for prospective applicants. Synod Placements Committee also may recommend ministers to the JNC or encourage ministers to apply.

How were the applicants shortlisted?

The Synod Placements Secretary (Rev. John Ruhle) and the JNC Chair did a primary sort to sift out any applications which are manifestly unsuitable (e.g., significantly under-qualified; visa issues for overseas applicants). The remaining applicants were given to the JNC for their shortlisting and follow-up.

Will all shortlisted applicants be interviewed?

The JNC shortlists and prioritises the candidates. A JNC is able to proceed to interviews (the UCA calls these ‘conversations’) with up to 3 applicants at a time. If more than 3 are shortlisted, the JNC may invite applicants to provide further information or make further submissions before it decides on its preferred 3 for conversation. If none of those 3 proceed to recommendation to the Congregation, the JNC may look at others on the shortlist.

Will all members of the JNC interview the candidates or just a subcommittee of the JNC?

The JNC exercises collective discernment, and so the whole JNC is involved in all aspects of consideration, conversation and decision about a recommendation.

If the JNC brings forward a recommended candidate, does that mean that candidate has already been approved by the Uniting Church?

Yes. The applicants provided to the JNC already have been assessed as potentially suitable to serve in this placement. If any of the JNC’s shortlisted applicants come from outside the Uniting Church, the JNC Chair liaises with the Placements Committee Secretary to confirm their suitability to serve in a UCA placement should they be called.

I’m concerned the Uniting Church will select a candidate that suits their particular requirements that may not align with the Newlife culture and DNA. How can I be sure that the new lead minister will be a fit for Newlife?

The UCA doesn’t select ministers for placement in the way this question suggests. That is the task of the Congregation, in considering a recommendation from the JNC. The JNC’s task is to prayerfully discern the person whom they believe God is calling for this new season for Newlife. The UCA’s requirements for those who serve in its ministry placements can readily be expressed within Newlife’s culture and DNA, as Rev. Stu Cameron and Rev. Brad Foote’s ministries demonstrate.

Does the recommendation of the JNC need to be unanimous?

Essentially, yes. The JNC must seek consensus on its discernment. Where there are disagreements, these need to be shared and discussed openly. If a JNC cannot reach unanimity, it needs to decide how it should proceed. The JNC Chair is to ensure that the integrity of collective discernment and decision-making is upheld.

Can the preferred applicant meet with people from Newlife other than the JNC?

While it is not normal practice, the preferred applicant and the JNC may agree that it would be appropriate for the person to meet the Church Council, or a wider group of members, prior to a decision to proceed to call. It is customary that those who will be team ministry colleagues have an opportunity to meet with the recommended minister prior to call.

TAKING A NAME TO THE CONGREGATION

What is the timeline and when can we expect to vote on the recommended candidate?

The timeline is open. The JNC is underway. It is aware of the desire for a timely outcome.

What does the JNC bring to the Congregation?

The JNC reports to a meeting of the Congregation. It brings the name of its recommended candidate, outlines the person’s relevant background and experience, and explains why this person is their discerned choice. Each JNC member speaks. There is opportunity for questions and discussion.

Will we receive more than one name?

No. The JNC is entrusted to do the deep, probing work of discernment with its shortlisted applicants until it is clear and confident about the name to recommend.

Can we hear the recommended candidate preach in church, or conduct a Q&A with them?

No. The JNC report will bring something to share about the person’s preaching, but the Uniting Church does not have a practice of a person ‘preaching for the call’. The JNC will have asked the person many questions relevant to a discernment about their suitability for the placement, and it will field questions from the Congregation. The Congregation meeting does not undertake the whole discernment process again. The people listen carefully to what the JNC has discerned.

If I have concerns with the JNC recommended candidate, how can I voice those concerns more than just a “yes” or “no” vote?

The Congregation meeting is open to all questions and comments, offered respectfully and in a spirit of shared discernment.

How is the vote conducted?

Secret ballot, yes or no, in answer to the question: “That Newlife Church call [name] to the placement of Lead Minister.”

Who can vote?

Members and members-in-association of the Uniting Church at Newlife.

What percentage support is required, and will the percentage be revealed?

A simple majority is mandated, but a Congregation meeting can choose to ‘raise the bar’ if it wishes (e.g., two-thirds). The vote is counted by scrutineers appointed by the meeting (usually 1 of the members of the JNC and 1 member of the Congregation). Whether or not the percentage is revealed is up to the Congregation Chair; there are reasons why this may or may not be helpful.

If the congregation approves the JNC recommended candidate, how soon will they commence their term?

This depends on the person and their current circumstances. A start date of 1/11/20 is preferred; even a week or two earlier to allow a handover with Stu. The person’s proposed start date will be included in the JNC’s information to the Congregation.

What happens if the congregation does not approve the recommended candidate?

If the ballot outcome is ‘no,’ then the Congregation can discuss possible next steps. One option would be to pause the process and appoint an interim lead minister. Another would be to re-advertise. New JNC members might be elected. The Presbytery Minister, who will be present as he is chairing this JNC, could inform this discussion.

Is there an example of a church our size and culture that has undergone a similar leadership transition? How did that go, what did we learn? How is that learning applied here?

As the largest Uniting Church Congregation, Newlife is unique but there are other Congregations of similar culture and complexity, if not size. The UCA placements process has served those contexts well in ministry leadership transitions – recognising that there is much more to effective transitions than the call process itself. The JNC has flexibility in how it engages its discernment with the applicants to confirm their suitability. But no new leader arrives with everything ready to go. The strength of the Newlife ministry team will be key to the effective transition to new leadership.

If I have further questions regarding the process, where can I take these?

You’re welcome to raise questions or concerns with the JNC Chair, Rev. David Busch ([email protected], 0438 646 559), or any member of the JNC, or Newlife elders ([email protected]).

Announcement: Stu and Sue Cameron

FROM THE NEWLIFE CHURCH COUNCIL (ELDERS)

Dear Friends,

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.

Blessings,

Rick

Rick van Drimmelen

(Elders Chair)

FROM STU AND SUE

Dear Friends,

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

Stu Cameron

Lead Minister

COVID-19: A Message from Stu (March 12)

Dear Friends,

I want to update you on Newlife’s response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and the steps we are taking to mitigate the risks, and to ensure as a church family we continue to model the faith, hope and love that is at the heart of the gospel.

First, what are we doing.

We are closely monitoring and following advice from government, health and denominational authorities, and will continue to do so.

We are continuing to ensure our properties are thoroughly and hygienically cleaned.

We are providing hand sanitizer stations and encourage you use these on entering and leaving our venues, and to wash your hands thoroughly at other times.

We are reviewing our communion preparation and serving protocols in preparation for our next scheduled Communion Sunday (April 10).

We are continuing to host all of our current programs and activities, including weekend worship, and will continue to do so until we are advised otherwise.

Second, what risk-mitigation efforts are we asking of you.

If you are unwell, in particular if you have cold or flu like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat etc.), please do not attend any church activity until you are well again. Seek medical advice.

If you have recently returned from overseas from a region or country where the Australian government requires a 14-day quarantine (currently Italy, Iran, South Korea and China) please comply with that advice.

If you are unable to attend weekend gatherings because you are unwell, or are in quarantine, please join us via online church. We stream our full 10am Robina celebration every week via Facebook, our Church App and our website. You can watch the service through the week from our Facebook page.

Restrict hand to hand contact at gatherings (we will remind of you this during welcome times), and use sensible precautions when in closer proximity to others.

Thoroughly Wash and/or sanitise hands regularly.

Third, let me talk about our opportunity in this unprecedented and challenging season.

This pandemic is a serious global crisis that we all must take seriously, and do our part to slow. Having said this, while we need to be wise in minimising the risks to ourselves and others, we also are not governed by fear. God’s perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). In and through Jesus we also have a hope that is imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42). Together, with our words and by our actions, let’s model the gospel hope we have.

How?

Pray for those who are infected with the virus – for their healing. Pray for our world and our nation – that the pandemic would slow and halt.  Pray for our health care and other professionals at the frontline, including many in our church, for safety and strength. Pray for our state and national leaders – for wisdom. And pray for those whose livelihoods which have already been impacted by the economic fallout – for provision. As you are able, I encourage you to attend any of our three church’s regular prayer gatherings.

Care for one another and for those God has placed your world. Together, lets model the love of Jesus and the hope we have in him.

We will keep in touch with you regarding any further developments as necessary. 

This weekend we continue our Shepherd King series, as Mike (Robina 8am and 10am), Calvin (Robina 6pm) and Scott (Coolangatta 10am) unpack the story of David and Goliath. What a story it is, reminding us of what a hope we have!

Grace and Peace

Stu Cameron

Lead Minister

Domestic and Family Violence: A Pastoral Statement

A pastoral statement offered to the Newlife Church community at gatherings on Sunday February 23, 2020.

This week we were shaken by the horrendous news of a mother and her three children brutally murdered by her estranged husband and the children’s father. It was and is an unimaginable horror. Except it wasn’t. Tragically, what happened on Wednesday is an all too common occurrence.

Women and children far and away suffer the most through domestic and family violence.

The statistics paint a blunt picture:

Of the 77 reporting countries listed by the UN, Australia has one of the highest rates of domestic and family violence in the world.

According to the Australian Institute of Health, 1 in 6 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former partner.

1 in 4 women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.

Intimate partner violence causes more illness, disability and deaths than any other risk factor for women aged 25-44 years of age.

Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and their children.

On average, at least one woman is killed every week by a partner or former partner.

95% of violent perpetrators are men.

The Domestic Violence Prevention Centre (DVPC) is one of the agencies who serves and advocates for domestic and family violence survivors here in our city.  Through January, one calendar month, here on the Gold Coast:

  • 703 women sought help from the DVPC
  • There were 285 police Referrals
  • 254 women were supported for their Southport Court Appearance.

I could go on. Domestic and Family Violence is a scourge that reaches across, and impacts all sectors of our community, including the church. Rates of Domestic and Family Violence are just as high in the church as outside. It causes extraordinary pain and suffering that has generational impacts. Domestic and Family Violence is expressed and experienced in a variety of forms, including verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. All are completely and utterly unacceptable and inexcusable.

In light of this, and in light of what has happened this week, I want to do six things.

First, and perhaps most importantly, I want to express a heartfelt and repentant apology, both personally and on behalf of our church, Newlife, to domestic and family violence survivors here today, or reading or watching this statement later.

I am sorry that we have been complicit in perpetuating a culture of silence about domestic and family violence, as well as its causes. We have not spoken up, educated or advocated near enough about these matters. In my fourteen years here I have mentioned, in passing, domestic and family violence a few times. No longer.

I am sorry some of you have not felt able, or been or confident you could confide in your church family and leaders what you are experiencing – or even known who you could talk with.

I am sorry for where I and we have let you down, and repent and ask for your forgiveness. I am, and we are committed to change, with God’s help.

Second, I want to say that if you are right now, or have suffered domestic and family violence and confide this fact in one of the leaders of our church – we will believe you. Further, you will be cared for and offered support every way we can, both through the resources we have to offer as a church, and through the wonderful agencies here on the Gold Coast who are ready to assist. If this is you, at the end of the service today I invite you to share with one of the pastors or leaders of our church, or with someone in our community you trust. Help is available. You will be believed.

Alternatively, at the end of the service there will be a slide on the screen with some numbers of agencies in our city who would be only too happy to help.

Third, I want to say thank you to those of you who offer care for survivors of domestic and family violence, whether it’s through one of the ministries of our church or Newlife Care, as a professional working in the field, a health professional, counsellor or through your own personal commitment and engagement.  There are so many of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you – for taking up the gospel cause of working for justice and caring for those who suffer. You have my commitment we will do all we can as a church to support you in your vital ministry.

Fourth, I want to share with you that together with many other churches on the Gold Coast, Newlife is committed to the long term goal of playing our part in seeing the incidence of domestic and family violence significantly reduced across our city. Such a goal is almost overwhelming, so horrifyingly numbing are the statistics.  But work, pray, advocate and educate for change we must. The gospel asks nothing less than this. It starts with us.

It is my privilege to be a member of our city’s pastor’s roundtable.  For around a year now we have been learning together through workshops and immersion experiences about the root causes, and experience of domestic and family violence through partners like the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Centre and Griffith University. This listening and learning phase is part of a long term commitment Gold Coast churches have made to make a difference, both inside our churches, and in the broader community.  We have a long way to go and a lot to learn. But we are committed to the journey.

Fifth, I commit our church to be a place where violence, in any form, will not be tolerated. I and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that Newlife, in all its expressions, is a safe place marked by the peace of God, where people can encounter and experience the love of God free from fear.

Finally, I want to pray. To lament, to confess, to offer intercessions and to look to God for hope, wisdom and strength. Will you join me.

Rev Stu Cameron – Lead Minister

Newlife Care

Phone: 55933262

Domestic Violence Prevention Centre (Gold Coast)

Phone: 55329000

Email: [email protected] domesticviolence.com.au

DV Connect Womensline:

Phone: 1800 811 811

DV Connect Mensline:

Phone: 1800 600 636

Lifeline:

Phone: 13 11 14

Newlife Men Supporting Men Group 

Newlife Men Supporting Men Group 

STARTS: Thursday 7.30 pm on 22nd August 2019
WHERE: Newlife Church, Lake side Lounge, Robina
COST: $25.00 (course material)

A safe place to witness, mentor, tell your story or just listen. We will be running an educational course called ” Man to Man ” which is a programme to assist men to overcome the challenges of life.

Have you ever wanted to be a better Husband, Father, Son or Brother? This is for you.
If you ever wanted to get more out of your life then this is for you.
If you ever wanted to be a better person or just find more fulfilment in every day then this is for you.
If you just want to find peace or more joy in your life then this is for you.
If you ever wanted to heal or grow or just know that you are not alone then this is definitely for you.

A great time to have a CHECK UP FROM THE NECK UP

To sign up, call John Grosser on 0408 751888.

Fasting and Prayer

In this season our Lead Minister, Stu Cameron, has called Newlife church to 25 days of prayer. During this season we’re also being encouraged to fast, so that we can draw closer to God and not only discern God’s will for ourselves, but also our church. As we do, we realise that it would be good to shed some light on what fasting is biblically. 

The Bible presents fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial. The book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:214:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:375:33). Too often, the focus of fasting is on the practicalities of limiting/eliminating our food intake. Instead, the purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God. Fasting can help us gain a new spiritual insights and deepen our reliance on God.

Although fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, there are other ways to fast. Anything given up temporarily in order to focus our attention on God can be considered a fast (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). For instance, you could fast from watching TV at night and instead spend that time in prayer and reading your bible, seeking direction from God. Social media is another ‘everyday thing’ you can fast from. I have taken Facebook off my phone, so now every time I would have checked Facebook, I pray and spend that time talking to God and it has been so beautiful setting my attention on him throughout the day.  

Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when fasting from food. Extended periods of time without eating can be harmful to the body. Fasting is not intended to punish the flesh, but to redirect attention to God. Fasting should not be considered a “dieting method” either. The purpose of a biblical fast is not to lose weight, but rather to gain deeper fellowship with God. Anyone can fast, but some may not be able to fast from food for medical reasons (diabetics, for example). You may want to fast just one meal a day and spend that time in prayer or you can fast for a whole day or more, that is up to you. Everyone can temporarily give up something in order to set time aside to draw closer to God.

By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can more successfully turn our attention to Christ. Fasting is not a way to get God to do what we want. Fasting changes us, not God. Fasting is not a way to appear more spiritual than others. Fasting is to be done with a spirit of humility and a joyful attitude. Jesus says in Matthew 6:16-18, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

As we fast, please pray for the Uniting Church, its leaders and its congregations across Australia. Pray for Newlife church – that over these 25 days we would hear the voice of God and be led by the Holy Spirit in truth and love and draw closer to Him in relationship. Pray for the elders, ministry team and staff of Newlife – for strength, peace and grace. Pray for our Lead Minister, Stu Cameron, that he would be loved and supported by us all and that Gods Holy Spirit would rest on him and anoint him for such a time as this to lead Newlife and others in the power of the Holy Spirit in truth, love and grace.

Scott Wrigley

Services Pastor Newlife Robina

25 Days of Prayer

We are inviting everyone who calls Newlife home to pray every day for 25 days from May 27 onwards.

Specifically, we’re inviting you to pray 7-7-7.

Pray for 7 minutes.

At 7am and/or 7pm.

Wherever we are, whether on our own, or better still – with one or two others.

What are we asking you to pray?

Every day we are asking you to lift your heart to God in adoration, acknowledging the beauty and wonder and glory of God’s character and nature.

Every day we are asking you to pray God would pour out his spirit on our church, convicting us where we need to repent and empowering us where we have become too reliant on our own strength.

Every day we are asking you to pray God would pour out his spirit on our church, that we might have a deeper heart for those far from God, a boldness in our sharing of the gospel and that we would see many, many people come to saving faith in Jesus in this next season – more people, more like Jesus. Go one step further; pray daily for someone in your friendship or family circles that does not yet know Jesus. Pray they would encounter and respond to God and his grace.

And especially, every day, we are asking you to pray God would deepen our hunger and thirst for him, that God does a ‘new thing’ in our midst – we would see it, perceive it and cooperate with it (see Isaiah 43:18-19).

Pray God would pour out a spirit of revival in our midst.

In addition, we invite you to pray specific prayers each day as detailed in this document.

Yes, all this in seven minutes. Of course, you can spend more time with God in prayer if you like!

Let’s be praying with a spirit of expectation and anticipation, believing God will do amazing things amongst us (Joshua 3:5).

We’d also love to invite you to join us in sharing on social media over the next 25 days. By following this link, you’ll be able to download sharable tiles for each day.

Day One – May 27
Pray for our Cities (Gold Coast and Brisbane)

Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.

(Jeremiah 29:7)

Pray God would prosper our cities; that they would be infused with peace, justice and prosperity for all. Pray for Mayor Tom Tate and for the Gold Coast Council, as well as Mayor Adrian Schrinner; that God would grant them wisdom and strength in order to lead and serve our cities well.

Day Two – May 28
Pray for Families and Marriages

Pray God would strengthen marriages, in our church and our cities, and that spouses would seek and find help when they need it. Thank God for the opportunity we have to serve couples, particularly through our counsellors and Marriage Alpha. Pray these ministries would grow and flourish, and other God-breathed ministries might emerge. Pray for single-parent families and for foster carers.

 Day Three – May 29
Pray for Gold Coast and Brisbane City Churches

Pray God would flourish gospel-proclaiming church across our cities. Pray for revival –for a mighty move of God in and through his church! Pray for those who lead – priests, pastors, ministers and elders. Pray for City on a Hill – Gold Coast and Gateway Baptist – Brisbane City as they prepare to launch in coming months.

Day Four – May 30
Pray for our Governments: State and Federal

There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

(Romans 13:1)

Pray for our Premier, Prime Minister and Opposition Leaders. Pray for a spirit of consensus and coalition building across ideological divides. Pray for a spirit of humility and service in our elected officials. Pray our governments will protect the poor, stand for truth, hold fast to freedom, strive for justice and work for prosperity. Pray God might grant us the governments we need, rather than ones we deserve.

Day Five – May 31
Pray for Business Owners and Operators

Pray for business owners and operators who call Newlife home; that God might prosper them in order they might be a blessing to their families, employees, suppliers, customers our church and our city.

Day Six – June 1
Pray for our Schools and Universities

Pray for the pre-school, primary, secondary, and tertiary education providers on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane. Pray they would increasingly offer environments that nurture curiosity and a love of life-long learning. Pray for teachers, lecturers, and ancillary staff.  Pray particularly for Christians serving in the education sector; that their light might shine.

Day Seven – June 2
Pray for our Hospitals and Medical Professionals

Thank God, and pray for the many doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who call Newlife home. Pray for their witness and ministry at work, often in demanding and crisis situations. Pray for the emerging network of Christian medical professionals on the Gold Coast, for Dr Tash Yates and Dr Iain Johnston and their leadership – that God would flourish the network to be a mutually edifying and prophetic witness.

Day Eight – June 3
Pray for Newlife Care

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.

(James 1:27) 

Pray God would flourish the ministries of Newlife Care – our Op Shop, Counselling Service, Princess for a Day, Caravan Park Ministry, Emergency Food Relief, Christmas Hampers and Support Groups. Pray for Rob Collins (Executive Officer), David Armstrong (Chairperson), the Board and the Staff team as they lead and serve.

Day Nine – June 4
Pray for Village Church and Uniting North

Pray for our two Gold Coast church plants – Uniting North at Coomera and Village Church Burleigh. Thank God for their ongoing life and witness and their partnership with us in the gospel. Pray the Holy Spirit would be poured out on them in a way that overflows into the communities they serve; that more people would meet and grow in Jesus. Pray for Ralph (Village Church) and Orrell (Uniting North) as they lead their churches.

Day Ten – June 5
Pray for Church Planting

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.

(Acts 16:6)

Thank God for the three churches that, by God’s grace, we have planted – Uniting North, Village Church Burleigh and Newlife Brisbane. Thank God for the opportunities for further church plants we have been invited into. Pray God would grant us wisdom to know which open doors to walk through. Ask God to lead us into the right, God-breathed opportunities.

Day Eleven – June 6
Pray for Cambodia

Pray for the nation of Cambodia, particularly its many young and poor people – that the number of those who come to saving faith in Jesus would accelerate. Pray for the church in Cambodia, that it would be a creative and life giving minority. Pray especially for our Acts 1:8 Mission Partners – Stu and Jo (Battambang) and Rose and Perlito, and Byron (Poipet) – as well as for the children we sponsor in Poipet.

Day Twelve – June 7
Pray for Thailand

Pray for the nation of Thailand, particularly for the communities of Maedet and Musukee, and our Acts 1:8 mission partners – Siami and Sawitree. Pray for the remote-village children we sponsor to attend school, that they would not only thrive in their education, but will meet and grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Day Thirteen – June 8
Pray for Bosnia

Pray for the beautiful, but war-scarred nation of Bosnia. Pray for the tiny evangelical church of that nation. Pray they would not lose heart, but experience a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit. Pray for our Acts 1:8 mission partner, Dina, as she pastors her church in Jajce and leads many ministries serving predominantly Muslim families in her town and beyond. Pray Dina, her family and her church would be light.

Day Fourteen – June 9
Pray for Kidzlife and Playgroup

Thank God for the thriving ministries we have with children and their families. Pray for Nicola (Kidzlife Gold Coast), Sarah (Kidzlife Brisbane) and Sue (Playgroup) and their many volunteers; that God would strengthen them to be the light of Jesus to those they serve. Pray in this next season many more children would surrender to Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Pray many more Playgroup families would make the short step to church, and through church, into a life-giving relationship with Jesus.

Day Fifteen – June 10
Pray for Newlife Youth

Thank God for Newlife Youth, for Jason and his leaders. Pray God would bless and strengthen them with wisdom as they serve and lead our young people. Pray for the young people who have been, and will be baptised this year. Pray for our outreach into local schools; that we would be a blessing to these communities. Pray the forthcoming Newlife Youth camp will see God move in powerful ways. Finally, please pray for Newlife Brisbane as it dreams and discerns what a flourishing youth ministry in the heart of the city might look like.

Day Sixteen – June 11
Pray for Crossroads

Thank God for our Crossroads community. Pray for Brad, Rob, Christine, Paula, Bec and our wonderful volunteers who serve alongside our crossroads clients and carers every week. Pray that Crossroads will navigate the transitions currently happening in the disability community sector wisely and well, and that Crossroads will continue to flourish into the future, providing a glimpse of the kingdom to come.

Day Seventeen – June 12
Pray for Newlife College and Worship Academy

Thank God for the incredible growth of Newlife College and Worship Academy over the last year.  Thank God for the graduates and students already on our staff, including Mike and Jo at Newlife Brisbane. Pray for Brenden, Erica, Craig and our Education Committee as they lead and oversee Newlife College and the Worship Academy. Pray for our students; that College would help them to love Jesus and the gospel more fully, particularly with their minds. Pray Newlife College and Worship Academy will produce missional leaders for a missional church.

Day Eighteen – June 13
Pray for the Isle of Capri Learning Centre

Thank God for the opportunity we have to serve families in our city through the Isle of Capri Learning Centre. Thank God for the funds the centre provides which supports new mission initiatives, including church plants. Pray for our co-directors, Aimee and Mel, and their amazing team of educators. Pray for every child in the centre, and their families. Pray for increasing enrolments through 2019 and beyond.

Day Nineteen – June 14
Pray for the Uniting Church

Pray for our denomination – the Uniting Church – for its congregations, leaders, agencies and councils. Thank God for the support we receive and missional opportunities we have through our denomination. Pray for a spirit of humility and, where necessary, repentance – that God would bring our movement back to two of its foundational values – a commitment to mission and God’s word. Pray for our leaders; our Moderator (David) and President (Deidre).

Day Twenty – June 15
Pray for Propel Network

Pray for the newly forming Propel Network – a movement of evangelical leaders, congregations and agencies in the Uniting Church. Pray many will make the decision to join and partner in its vision to see leadership development, evangelism, disciple making and church planting and revitalisation thrive in the Uniting Church. Pray for the Propel Steering Group, and for the inaugural conference to be hosted by Newlife in August. Pray the conference would be a significant time of refreshment and renewal in God for all who attend.

Day Twenty-One – June 16
Pray for the Global Leadership Network

Pray for the Global Leadership Network (GLN) (formerly Willow Creek Association), which Newlife has the privilege of hosting and significantly supporting as an expression of our call to be a ‘lighthouse church’. Pray for the GLN staff and board, for Phil (Executive Officer) and Bron (Administrator) in particular. Pray for the forthcoming GLS Plus events with Craig Groeschel, as well as the GLS season in October and November; that these 30 or so events would edify the church as they resource, equip and inspire leaders.

Day Twenty-Two – June 17
Pray for our Young Adult Community

Thank God for the many young adults who call Newlife home, in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast. Pray for our young adult small groups and their leaders. Pray for Anna and Matt as they lead our young adult community on the Gold Coast, and for Mike and Sarah and Newlife Brisbane young adults community. Pray for our 6pm community; that it would flourish and be an increasingly welcoming environment for all who come.  Pray God would birth new dreams and visions in our young adult communities.

Day Twenty-Three – June 18
Pray for our Small Groups

Thank God for every one of our 120 or so small groups, across all our generations. Pray for every small group leader; that God would strengthen them and grant them great wisdom and a deepening pastoral heart. Pray our small groups would dive deeper still into the beauty and truth of God and His word, and deeper in relationship with each other. Pray God would bring people to faith in and through our small groups.

Day Twenty-Four – June 19
Pray for our Staff and Ministry Team

Thank God for our Staff and Ministry Team. Pray God’s blessing, strength and protection over them and their families. Pray God would lead them deeper into his presence; that God’s presence would be their strength and joy. Thank God for the unity our staff and ministry team enjoy and pray God would deepen it further still. Pray our staff and ministry team would always and first pick up a servant’s towel as they lead.

Day Twenty-Five – June 20
Pray for our Elders

Thank God for our Elders and the wise and godly leadership they have provided our church over many years. Pray for Rick, our chair of Elders. Pray for our newly elected Elders. Pray that as Newlife steps into a new season, our Elders will lead us wisely and courageously – ensuring we always, and in all ways fix our eyes on Jesus.

Catalyst Network

I’m excited to share with you that a new network of evangelical leaders, congregations and agencies in the Uniting Church has been established – Catalyst Network. Catalyst seeks to be a renewing movement with an emphasis on church planting and revitalization, evangelism and leadership development. But more on that in a bit. Let me remind you of the context in which Catalyst has been established.

In July 2018, the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church decided to allow congregations to marry same-gender couples, should they choose. Leading up to and since that decision Newlife has prayerfully engaged in how we should respond to this decision, especially given it contradicted with our long-held position on marriage. This culminated in a meeting of our congregation in early September where we made a series of decisions (including to change our name to Newlife Church).

Since September, various state and regional bodies (synods and presbyteries) have met to consider proposals that would invoke a constitutional challenge to suspend the decision of the Assembly, requiring it to consult further with the church before reconsidering the matter. We enthusiastically supported this challenge. However, the challenge just fell short of the required support, which means the decision of the Assembly stands.

Which leads me back again to the formation of Catalyst Network.

One of the decisions we made last December was, ‘consistent with the paper ‘Standing Firm by Stepping Aside – 22.07.18’, joins a new national network of congregations and leaders, with the view to forming non-geographic presbyteries.’

Catalyst is that network, and a few weeks ago we issued a public invitation to congregations, agencies and leaders to become members. Newlife is a founding member of Catalyst and I am the chairperson of the steering committee that will formally establish the network as a separately incorporated body later this year. I invite you to read the Catalyst Network Overview and Invitation documents to gain a deeper appreciation for the vision, values and statement of belief of Catalyst. Catalyst seeks to a be a biblically faithful, evangelistically passionate renewing movement within the Uniting Church.

Catalyst has a clear and unambiguous position that ‘we believe we are called to celibacy in singleness and loving faithfulness between a man and woman in marriage.’

It is early days for Catalyst. There is a great deal of interest from congregations and leaders across the nation actively considering joining Catalyst. There is a lot of prayer, planning and preparing of the ground we need to do in formally establishing Catalyst as a legal entity. There are sometimes difficult conversations to be had with denominational leaders. In all of this, I and we ask for your prayers.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions about any and all I have shared about.  You can email me at [email protected].

New Things

God is always speaking, particularly through his word revealed in scripture. Sometimes God speaks so clearly and unequivocally that even those of us who are hard of (spiritual) hearing, hear. This past week God has spoken in such a way to us – to Newlife. Let me explain.

Last week we held our J35 prayer and worship nights, in Brisbane on Wednesday (February 13) and the Gold Coast, Thursday (February 14). I attended both, each evening rich in the presence of God.

On Wednesday night, Mike spoke a scripture over us he sensed was God’s word in season for us.

Unbeknown to him, as she prepared for our Thursday night gathering, earlier that day and before Mike had spoken this word, Ash had sent a few of us a scripture she sensed God was speaking into our life. It was the same verses. Exactly the same.

Then Thursday came.

Earlier in the week Scott had emailed some of our prayer team, asking them to pray into our J35 nights, preparing the ground spiritually.  He invited them to email or text back any direction they sensed from the Lord.

On Thursday morning Belinda messaged Scott with the same verses Mike had spoken and Ash had shared – without any knowledge whatsoever of what God had laid on their heart.

Then on Thursday afternoon, again independently and without any prior knowledge, Mandi did the same.

36 hours. Four different people seeking after God. The exact same scripture received by each for us as a church. Added to this, the scripture received was the ONLY one offered to us in this time period.  What is the scripture? What is God saying, so clearly and unambiguously to Newlife in this season?  The prophet Isaiah speaks these words from God to ancient Israel. And God, by his Spirit, God is speaking them to us now:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Thank you God! Thank God for his word, that speaks freshly and powerfully into our lives and our life together. And so we treasure this word in our heart, rest in the promise offered and continue to seek after God for the ‘new things’ he is going to do in our midst.