Sonya de Lacey gives us a taste of the Bishop’s Training Event in the Diocese of Tasmania.
Sonya de Lacey is the Media and Communications Officer for the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania
The atmosphere had an expectant buzz as 400 plus Anglicans from across Tasmania gathered for the third annual Bishop’s Training Event. This year’s theme was Making Disciples Every Day. It was Saturday 22 September. Music filled the auditorium. Lanyards were handed out. Resource tables were plentiful, covering topics such as: Alpha, Bush Church Aid, Church Missionary Society, Diocesan Training and Youth/Kids ministry info, Safe Church Communities, University Fellowship of Christians and Worldview College—to name just a few. The aroma of freshly ground coffee filtered through the air. This was our biggest event ever with around 350 adults, and 70+ children in the children’s event and creche.
At morning prayer we gave thanks to God that we, his people, could gather together in his name. We asked the Holy Spirit to fill us and empower us to be Christ’s disciples, sending us to go and proclaim the gospel, making disciples in our own neighbourhoods and to the ends of the earth. In the morning session Bishop Richard challenged us to ask the Lord of the harvest prayerfully and regularly for workers to send out into the harvest field.1 He concluded his session by sharing a video of Patricia McCormack who goes into Risdon Prison to share the good news. This lovely story showed how God can take our brokenness and create something truly beautiful.2
The Rev’d Andy Goodacre shared how Jesus chose unlikely people, in unlikely places, and invested in the few for the sake of the many.3 He shared an encouraging video from his church called: Barney’s Missionary People, Seeing Lives Transformed.4
We heard testimonies of God growing the church in Circular Head from about 15 to 20 people 18 months ago to over 90 people the Sunday before the Bishop’s Training Event. Others talked about how the Holy Spirit had been preparing them for a move and how they had sold up and were now moving house to join a new church plant in Brighton. There was much to give thanks for and celebrate.
The singing was both powerful and beautiful. One attendee wrote, ‘the very best thing about the day for me was the singing … Standing there, surrounded by the swell of sound from four hundred people all singing together, was the most uplifting, encouraging feeling. I was carried on the sound. I was buoyed by it … Saturday’s singing was about being community. Being family. Singing with one voice. Joining together and making something truly beautiful.’5
In the afternoon, everyone met in smaller groups attending 2 of 22 possible workshops. Workshops covered a wide range of ministry topics: for example, disciple-making in rural areas; connecting the church with young people; helping build disability-inclusive Christian communities; answering tricky questions in the workplace; everyday pastoral care; making disciples every day and missional communities; making disciples in the everyday.
‘There is always more we can learn to help us to serve God and with the wide range of session topics to choose from there was something for everyone’, said Philip Ruston. ‘It was good to learn more about personal witness and that even if we’ve had a Christian upbringing we still have a story to tell about our walk and relationship with God.’
Steve Abbott, author of Everyday Evangelism, led the two main auditorium workshops on sharing our faith with others. He talked about the ‘key practical biblical elements of personal witness’6 and ‘Understanding the five thresholds unbelievers cross from distrust to trust in Jesus’.7 We learnt valuable new skills and ideas to make disciples across Tasmania.
Our vision is to be: a church for Tasmania, making disciples of Jesus. Hopefully we have all taken away something new which will enable us to be a blessing within our communities and to share the good news. ‘I would certainly recommend the day, it allows you to see the depth and breadth of our Anglican Church community, making new friendships, renewing old ones and getting a broader view of what is happening across Tasmania,’ said Heather Krause. ‘It gives a better perspective regarding our faith community, rather than your head being down and just working on where you are. It is so important to raise your head and see what is happening outside of your circle, it gives you encouragement and new ideas and resources’, she said.
We left, thankful for what God is doing amongst us, with new skills and ideas to make disciples across Tasmania, and keen to invite others to join us next year.