Twice a year, the Baptist Union of Victoria (BUV) holds a two-day weekend of events for Pastors, spouses, church leaders and delegates. I attended all of these events over 26-27 May. The theme for the weekend, and for the year for the BUV, is “growing in love”. On Friday and Saturday mornings, the keynote speakers (Jonathan Stark and Daniel Bullock) contrasted love with fear, focusing on 1 John 4:18:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
In a world increasingly marked by fear, both at a global and a personal level, John puts love forward as the response to fear. They also spoke of Jesus’ great act of love, his sacrifice for us, in which he loved those who were his enemies. (Romans 5:8-10)
They also considered Jesus’ answer to the question, (Matthew 22:36-39)
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ … And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”
For the Christian, love is not an option or a good thing to do, it is a command, the highest command that we are given by Jesus!
On the Friday night, delegates from all the Baptist churches in Victoria attended dinner. At the dinner we welcomed two new faith communities into the BUV, representing the main growth areas of the BUV at the moment:
- Melbourne Karen Baptist Church is a non-English church based in Hoppers Crossing, and
- Now and Not Yet is a café-style church in Warrandyte, pursuing an incarnational ministry model to reach locals resistant to traditional expressions of church.
In our table groups at dinner, we also discussed end-of-life issues, in light of proposed Victorian euthanasia legislation. While this is a delicate topic, the BUV is to be commended in addressing it, and allowing representatives from all the churches to have their voice in such an important issue.
Finally, at the dinner, a new Principal for Whitley College (the Victorian Baptist College) was presented and voted in. Dr Rene Erwich is a scholar and pastor from the Netherlands who accepted the nomination as the BUV’s preferred candidate after a long and thorough search process.
Please pray for Rene Erwich as he begins this challenging new role at Whitley. Please also pray for our Baptist Union generally, that our churches in this state would work well together as we face challenging issues (such as euthanasia), and seek to reach out in love rather than fear.