Archives for June 2017

John Morrison – 25 June 2017

Back in November, we participated in the 2016 National Church Life Survey. 122 youth/adult surveys and 17 child surveys (8-14yrs old) were submitted. Results are now out and they provide data and feedback that will be very useful as we evaluate and strategise. Here is just a sample of interesting information from the youth/adult surveys.

58% female and 42% male.

The average age of people is 60 years.

It was 56 in 2006, 57 in 2009, 61 in 2011.

78% were born in Aust. & 23% overseas. 10% speak a language other than English at home. By comparison, 15% of our local neighbourhood (2km radius) were born in non-English speaking countries according to the 2011 National Census.

Here’s what respondents value about our church. (They could tick 3 of 13.)
61% our wider community care/justice.
45% sermons, preaching or teaching.
37% practical care in times of need.
32% openness to social/cultural diversity.

Over 25 years of research, NCLS has identified 9 core qualities of church vitality. Here is our “Circle of Strengths”. Each quality has a score from 1 to 10, 5 being the average of all participating Australian churches.

Service – 8.1
Vision – 6.6
Leadershsip culture – 4.8
Innovation – 4.8
Worship – 4.4
Belonging – 3.3
Faith sharing – 2.8
Inclusion – 2.5
Faith – 2.4 

Here are preferred priorities (could tick 3 of 14) for this year.
43% worship services that are nurturing.
40% supporting social action and aid.
37% sense of community.
30% ministry to children and youth.
29% clear vision of the future.

% who started attending in the previous 5 years has been dropping – 35 (2006), 25 (2009), 17 (2000) 12 (2016).

% who always/usually experience inspiration during services has jumped to 62% from a plateau of 52%.

88% agree leaders take into account the ideas of people to a great or some extent.

Care needs to be exercised in interpreting these summary figures as there is a lot else to unpack. That’s why we have 2 workshops today at 10.30am and 12.00. These are also an important part of the input phase of our current review and planning process. We encourage your participation today and in the other special events planned as part of the review.

John Morrison

Belinda Groves – 18 June 2017

Our church review is underway and as we begin by evaluating what we are doing in ministry or could be doing, the deacons have asked some people to share a story – either about what they appreciate about CBC or something they have seen elsewhere which could work here. Janelle Lamont was the first to share last weekend – but as some of us missed it – here is her story!


When someone asks me where I go to church, I start by describing its location. Then I describe it like this…. “When you walk into the church building it is like stepping back in time… but then you are brought right back to the present with the message.”

Richard and I started coming to worship here in late 2004, but I had had several earlier contacts with people from Canberra Baptist Church at Ladies Meetings, Baptists Today and Sunday@Seven. To have a place to discuss and to hear others who have spent time and energy wrestling with how our Christian faith could apply and be relevant to our world was very significant to me.

So here are the things that I value about this church:

FREEDOM: freedom to think, to discuss, to not have answers, to have doubts, to ask questions, to wrestle together with issues that could divide. To live with grey issues – I don’t mean hair colour- although that mostly brings wisdom, in my experience! I mean those issues that haven’t got a neat and tidy traditional “Christian” answer. To look afresh and unpack what I was taught as a child. To have the Bible opened up in new ways.

PREACHING and WORSHIP: Worship here is thoughtful, ordered, meaningful, contemplative and relevant. Music enhances the worship with well-chosen hymns and contemporary songs. My brother described it as “No wasted words”. I agree.

 THE WELCOME: Both Linley and Merilyn were very significant in helping us feel welcome here and I am grateful to them for their consistency in this area. I am sure we aren’t the only ones who have experienced their genuine and caring welcome. I encourage all of us to be welcomers – not just to join the roster – but for all of us to look out for newcomers and people on their own. It makes such a difference to newcomers to feel like they matter.

AND THE WELCOME CONTINUES: Thirteen years on, we can say we feel part of this church. We are grateful for this fellowship, for this church community, for people who inspire us to live a life that Jesus would want us to live.

To feel welcome; to worship in a thoughtful, ordered and meaningful way; and to join others in the faith journey who are willing to question, think through issues, see social justice as important and encourage a faith that holds freedom and love as essential. I am proud and grateful to be part of this church!

John Morrison – 11 June 2017

“Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the Lord is one.” (Deut. 6:4) Thus begins the Jewish “Shema”, so-called because the first word is “sh’ma” in Hebrew.

This ancient statement was foundational for the Israelites as they coalesced into a nation following the Exodus from Egypt, and it remains the core belief of Judaism. Belief in one God is also at the heart of the world’s two other major monotheistic religions, Islam and Christianity.

For Christians, who affirm the divinity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, this raises many issues. For example, how can God send Jesus to Earth and in what sense is Jesus Emmanuel (God with us)? If God is one, how can the Father speak from Heaven at Jesus’ baptism and how can the Spirit alight on him like a dove? What does it mean for Jesus to pray to his Father? In what sense did God forsake Jesus at his crucifixion? Was Jesus’ ascension in order to reunite with the Father?

In grappling with such questions, the early Church developed the doctrine of the Trinity – that God is 3 in 1. While the word Trinity is not used in the Bible, the concept encapsulates the teaching of Jesus and Scripture in relation to the Godhead. The precise formulation of the doctrine was hotly debated for centuries. The Athanasian Creed is one of the statements that arose from that process.

It stated: “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son; and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. Although you might think that pretty well sums it up, the Creed continues with some 20 or more sentences on the Trinity.

Many analogies have been used in efforts to explain the Trinity, such as a 3-leaf clover; the 3 parts of a finger or an egg; earth, sea and sky; 3 primary colours; 3 forms of water; child, adult, elder; seed, plant, fruit. Ultimately, however, such analogies break down and we are left with the profound mystery of a God who is beyond our finite fathoming.

While also having their limitations, I find it helpful to reflect on other ways of describing God apart from Father, Son and Holy Spirit, such as Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer; God who Creates, God who Saves, God who Guides; God beyond us, God with us, God within us; Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver; Source of Being, Incarnate Word, Holy Wisdom.

Today is Trinity Sunday when we are reminded of the immensity, majesty and mystery of God. Today’s services are not the time to exhaustively catalogue the historical disputes or to pedantically attempt to define the indefinable. They are a time to experience something of the fullness of God’s reality and to come before God in amazed worship.

Welcome to worship on this Trinity Sunday.


Belinda Groves – 4 June 2017

The most surprising part of our trip was our week at Iona. It surprised my children because it was the part of the trip they were least looking forward to (“Do we have to go to church all week?”) but turned out to be the part they enjoyed the most! But it was also a week that surprised me.

I had gone expecting to find a lovely island and an old stone abbey, but I had also planned to absorb new ideas and new songs; information I could consume and take away. Instead, on the evening we arrived, we were told that our purpose in being there for – even for one week – was to form community. We would sleep in the same house, eat together, worship together and share the work of the Community in order to share our lives.

My first thought was that I would prefer to just absorb new ideas and be on my way. However, as the final service of worship and the Friday morning departures approached, I realised how much richer my week and my experience had been – how much more I had learned – from sharing life with these people.

It was the relationships that we formed that were the best thing on this trip for Miriam, Grace and Zach, and it was the relationships that taught me the most and are my richest memory of Iona.

Throughout this year, we are planning, as a church, to review the questions of who we are as a church and what God is calling us to do. As some of you heard at the May Church Meeting, there will be three phases to this process:

  1. Input – where we stretch our thinking;
  2. Reflection – where we gather our responses to the questions above;
  3. Decision – where we articulate answers to those questions.

Below are important dates for the Input and Reflection phases, but my time at Iona has taught me that far more important than absorbing new ideas, is all of us, as a community, committing ourselves to living and learning, working and worshipping together. It is the impact of that that will surprise all of us!

Let us devote ourselves to prayer, as the believers did in Acts 1, and to seeking where the Spirit is guiding this church – noting these dates in our diaries:

25th JuneNCLS Snapshot (followed by workshop at church or in small groups)
23rd July – Sermon & Workshop: How to engage with our community
30th July – Sermon & Workshop: How to deepen our spirituality as a church
6th Aug – Sermon & Workshop: How to respond to the challenges of society
11-13th August – Church Reflection Weekend