So we’re half way through the year and what have we done? 2016 has been a hectic year already. Just ask any of our team at the Conference Office – they know what I mean – they’ve been living the reality of which I speak.
I know there’s more to life than increasing its speed but it seems we pack more and more into each day. I guess that’s because of commitment to the mission Jesus gave us. So let me share on three key areas: Mission, AdventCare and Infrastructure.
Mission in Victoria
What would it take to double our effectiveness in making disciples? Numbers games have never made much sense to me. The gospel is about people – and helping people to know Jesus. That’s what discipleship is all about. The Conference team has been evaluating the implications for the Victorian Conference of the General Conference Strategic Planning document. The GC want to see 30% growth in the number of churches and 20% growth in membership over five years.
That means six new church plants per year – we’re actually ahead of that goal with eight new church plants within a twelve month period. Praise God. 20% growth in membership over five years – that sounds like 4% per year to me and that’s challenging. We know Jesus' command to His church was"Make disciples” and “Baptise them.” Baptisms in Victoria are about 2.5% of membership per year. Then there are deaths and transfers out... We have some work to do. We’re thankful for funds granted by the South Pacific Division to help us with church plants and Christmas in July. This really helps.
So the question I reflect on, is “What would it take for the church in Victoria to double its effectiveness in making disciples?” Mmmm. Keep thinking about that because, as someone said, what you think about comes about.
We’ve conducted what we called “AdventCare Forum” in five locations in our conference, giving an overview of the operation of AdventCare and addressing current issues. In addition to providing excellent care, there are two big factors for AdventCare: mission focus and financial viability. Mission involves Adventist Ethos and that is constantly on our radar. Our staff, residents and chaplains all make valuable contributions in that regard with good results. On the matter of financial viability it is good to report that to the end of May, AdventCare has achieved a surplus of $791,651 for eleven months of the financial year. Praise God!
At the AdventCare Forum, there was discussion regarding the viability of the Warburton facility, Yarra Ranges. For a number of years until 2010, this facility was a 51 bed home. In 2008, auditors indicated the rooms were too small and that this had to be dealt with. From that day on, the future of the home was in question. In 2010, AdventCare purchased an aged care facility at Yarra Junction. Clearly the intent was to close the Yarra Ranges facility and move residents to Yarra Junction and so continue to provide aged care in the Yarra Valley. In 2011 twenty bed licences were transferred from Yarra Ranges and this was seen as a step towards closing the facility. With the inevitable reduction in residents, financial performance of the home went from profits to losses.
Dealing with the underlying issue is not as simple as just transferring bed licences back and increasing the number of residents. Rooms need to be bigger. Increasing room sizes to comply with current standards would require significant funds. We’ve worked closely with the Warburton people over a period of years to explore every option we can. I think it is common knowledge that AdventCare experienced significant losses from 2010 to 2013 and that hasn’t helped. The Yarra Ranges Facility is clearly mission focused but financial viability remains a challenge. We continue to work with our faithful people at Warburton to find a positive way forward.
You may have heard that both Pakenham and MASDAC churches have now purchased properties which will become their new church buildings. Werribee Church is waiting on Council to respond to their application. The Sale of land at Hallam Road is confirmed – and that’s great news! Land sales are going very well at the subdivision at Taylors Hill. A Project Accountability Structure for the Nunawading Estate has been adopted. This will ensure the Project Control Group reports to the Executive Committee on a monthly basis. Howqua land improvements have been approved – new sewage ponds to comply with EPA requirements. We are thankful that the South Pacific Division has promised to help with funds for the purchase of a church building for the Casey Church. This promised funding will help open the way for the Casey church to establish their ministry in a centre which will become an effective Centre of Influence. We praise God for His blessings and encourage all to pray for His leading for His people in Victoria.