From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Hursts begin work in Australia
21 Feb 2001 10:50:56
February 21, 2001
Mennonite Board of Missions
February 21, 2001
with presentation at conference
MELBOURNE, Australia (MBM/COM) – The Anabaptist Association of
Australia and New Zealand met Jan. 25-28, in Melbourne,
Australia. The theme of the gathering, held at Whitley College,
a Baptist theological college connected with the University of
Melbourne, was “Peacemaking, Reconciliation and Mission.” This
was the second national conference since the AAANZ became
incorporated as an Australian religious organization.
Conference participants welcomed Mark and Mary Hurst to Australia
as permanent residents. The Hursts are mission workers who came
to Australia in 1990 with Eastern Mennonite Missions and are also
currently mission associates with Mennonite Board of Missions and
with the Commission on Overseas Mission of the General Conference
Mennonite Church. Since their primary role in Australia is with
AAANZ, the conference was a wonderful opportunity for them to get
involved immediately with Anabaptists in Australia and New
As pastoral workers with AAANZ, the Hursts organize Anabaptist
networks, provide services, and offer resources to people in both
Australia and New Zealand who are interested in Anabaptism. As
part of the conference, the Hursts presented one session titled,
“Anabaptist Perspectives for Peacemaking.” They also offered a
workshop and sold books.
It was an important time of connecting and reconnecting for the
Hursts. “It was good to see old friends and to meet new folks
interested in Anabaptism,” said Mary
As for Mark, he said the number of young people who attended the
conference was encouraging. “The future of Anabaptist
discipleship in Australia and New Zealand depends on this younger
generation picking up the Anabaptist vision for themselves.” By
examining Anabaptism, young Australians and New Zealanders will
be able to shape the tradition into something that also
incorporates their cultural uniqueness.
A local committee that included former Mennonite Central
Committee volunteers Neil and Saralyn Horsburgh, now in
Melbourne, planned the conference. The four-day conference
featured a daily central presentation, numerous workshops, a
Saturday evening public event in a local town hall, free time to
explore the city, and three suggested worship services on Sunday
in local churches featuring speakers from AAANZ.
The main presentations covered the historical and biblical basis
for Anabaptism and its relationship to the contemporary church
scene in Australia, with an emphasis on Anabaptist perspectives
concerning peacemaking and mission. Most of the speakers were
professors from theological schools in Melbourne who connected
with Anabaptism through their biblical and theological training.
Workshop topics ranged from dealing with conflict in churches to
AAANZ plans to have similar gatherings at least every 18 months
to link like-minded people from across Australia and New Zealand,
a vast territory taking in six time zones. The gatherings also
foster fellowship and teaching, and provide encouragement for
people who often feel alone in their Anabaptist way of life.
* * *
Joni Sancken PHOTO AVAILABLE
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