Photo: Collective 2020 was hosted in two regional locations – Maitland Church of Christ (pictured) and NationsHeart in Canberra.

By Emily Ferguson

It’s been a year of challenge and innovation for local churches due to COVID-19, and the same was true of Fresh Hope’s 2020 Collective gathering this month.

For the first time, Collective was held in smaller one-day regional gatherings in Maitland (pictured below), Canberra, Stanwell Tops and online, rather than the usual all-in experience at Stanwell Tops.

                              

The regional Collectives provided much-needed opportunities for local ministry leaders to connect, share stories and encourage one another, and be inspired by pre-recorded keynote sessions from Alan Hirsch, Karina Kreminski, Doug Paul and Andrew Ball.

The week began on Tuesday 10 November with over 45 ministry leaders gathering in Maitland, followed by 65 meeting online on Wednesday, over 30 in Canberra on Thursday, and around 100 in Stanwell Tops on both Friday and Saturday.

For Brent and Jill Smith (picture below right with Fresh Hope Chaplain Nicole Gorzalka), Pastors at Redhill Church in Canberra, the local Collective gathering was both encouraging and engaging.

“We felt encouraged by the team that pulled Collective together and gave their time to travel and to be with us. We also enjoyed digging deeper after each talk with our local friends. The takeaway for us would be that what we encounter leaving the safety of the harbour isn’t always what we expect. However, trusting God’s goodness, we go out deep and – as Alan Hirsch said – seek to be “always reforming according to the Word of God.”

Steven Martin, Senior Pastor at Living Hope, Maitland, commented, “Collective is always a refreshing and encouraging time and I really needed it this year! Having Collective in Maitland was really significant to me and not just because it was hosted by the church I lead. I was blessed to properly meet fellow pastors who are (relatively) local to me; and to contextualise the teaching with our regional perspectives.”

“Collective regionally was a tangible indicator that Fresh Hope’s posture is towards local churches across NSW and the ACT,” said Mission & Ministry Director John Crowther.

This year’s Collective was also an opportunity to farewell Fresh Hope’s outgoing Executive Ministry Director (EMD) of 18 years, Andrew Ball. And in the Annual General Meeting on Saturday 14 November, Collective voted to receive Fresh Hope’s new EMD Daz Farrell who will formally begin his new role on 1 February 2021.

Conference Executive President and chairperson Raewyn Williams was also farewelled, along with board members Andrew Berthelsen and Chris Powell. Emily Drough and Mike McGarrity were successfully voted as Conference Executive board members. Continuing on the board are Stephen Cha, Karen Baker, Simon Brailey and Stephen Toomey and Victor Tee, who was welcomed as the new Conference executive chairperson.

Three Property Trust members came to the end of their terms – Ms Patricia Chan, Mr Damien Hannes, and Mr Philip Smith. Mr Philip Smith stood for re-election and was re-appointed by Conference to the Property Trust for another 9-year term.

Read more stories of Fresh Hope here.