Representatives from Baptist Churches in NSW & ACT and the Baptist Ministry Centre recently joined with Baptists from around the country in the Converge Preparation Day. Converge is an initiative of Australian Baptist Ministries (ABM) and sees Baptist leaders meet with Federal MPs to advocate for issues of justice. Conference founder Scott Higgins says: “Converge creates an opportunity for Australian Baptists to become part of the national public policy conversation.”
The event is typically held in-person in Canberra, but this year (because of Covid-19 restrictions), most Australian states delivered state-based Converges. It was great to see so many Baptists from churches and organisations around the country involved in the Converge preparation this year. Even though we weren’t able to meet in Canberra, it meant we could have more leaders involved than ever before.
Converge 2021 saw the launch of a new report from ABM called Justice 2021: Toward a More Just Australia. You can view this report here. This report highlights eight areas of justice where Australian Baptists have ‘skin in the game’. Chapters in the report were co-authored by Baptist organisations intimately involved with that issue: Baptist Care Australia led on the homelessness and aged care sections; NSW/ACT Baptist Association led on domestic and family violence; Baptist Union of Victoria led on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice and on the asylum seeker and refugee chapter; and Baptist World Aid authored climate change, extreme poverty, and modern slavery, forced and child labour.
Nicole Hornsby, Executive Director of BaptistCare Australia said, “‘Justice,’ we are reminded in the report’s introduction, ‘is fundamental to every society that values the wellbeing of all its members…The report is a reminder that Baptists are front and centre on major issues confronting Australians, and will be a critical resource for Baptists interested in those issues.”
The Converge Committee hopes that churches will find the report useful as we track justice issues over time, referring back to it and using it to answer questions around the topics covered. The Committee is also planning to develop accompanying materials for churches such as Bible Studies and prayers/reflections that relate to the topics covered in the report.
Representatives from NSW & ACT are focusing on justice for:
- People living in extreme poverty (this issue touches on our aid budget and global response to Covid)
- Women experiencing domestic violence
- People vulnerable to the impacts of climate change
Over the coming weeks, Baptist leaders will be having meetings with their MPs to advocate on the issues listed above. Please pray that our leaders would be receptive to our asks and would work towards a more generous and just nation and world.