THE BAPTIST UNION OF AUSTRALIA INC.
The Baptist Union of Australia Incorporated – Trading as Australian Baptist Ministries
Suite 1, 3 Carlingford Road EPPING NSW 2121
PO BOX 122 EPPING NSW 1710
02 9868 9222
National Ministries Director
Rev Keith Jobberns
Opening Hours: By arrangement
Records are held by both the Baptist Union of Australia and within the NSW Baptist Archives. Interested persons should contact either the National Secretary (as above) or the NSW Baptist Archivist.
Holdings (material is held at NSW Baptist Archives)
Australian Baptist Congress: reports and minutes from Congress in 1908, 1911, 1922 and 1925
The Baptist Union of Australia: minutes and some reports for Executive Committee, National Council, Triennial Assemblies from 1926 onwards
Australian Baptist Board of Christian Education: minutes and reports; samples of curriculum materials and other papers from 1940 onwards
Clifford Press: samples of booklet series, The Clifford Press, from 1952 onwards
Crossover Australia: correspondence, minutes, reports and other assorted material from 1985 onwards
Handbooks from some other National Baptist Unions
Reports from some Baptist World Alliance Congresses
National Baptist magazine - copies from Issue 1 (March 1988) onwards
Finding Aids: Only minimal classification
Special Note on the Baptist Union of Australia
Baptist work was initiated in the various Australian colonies during the period from 1831 to 1895. Initially, each area functioned more or less independently. But as the colonies prepared for political federation in a Commonwealth of Australia at the turn of the century, voices were raised calling for the federation of Baptist work also. After a series of congresses in the early years of this century, an Interstate Convention in 1912 resolved to initiate joint action in missionary work, in the training of ministers, and in the setting up of a publishing house. In 1913, the state missionary societies combined forces in the Australian Baptist Foreign Mission (now known as Global Interaction), and The Australian Baptist commenced publication (ceased in 1991). Legal difficulties prevented the Baptist College of Victoria from becoming a federal institution.
After the First World War, the Baptist Union of Australia became a reality, when it was inaugurated at the Burton Street Tabernacle, Sydney, on Wednesday, August 25, 1926. The architect of its constitution was Mr. J. McDonald Martin. Rev. J. H. Goble of Victoria was elected as the Union’s first President. This is a union of state Baptist Unions, not churches.
Initially, three Boards were set up through which the Union would function: a Home Mission Board, with its secretariat located in NSW, to care for Baptist interests in the Federal capital, Canberra, but later to initiate work amongst Australian Aboriginal people; an Educational Board located in Victoria; and a Young People’s Board, served by Queensland officers. 1929 saw the establishment of the Ministerial Fund, located in Victoria, and in 1935 a Federal Advisory Board. Victorian women were active in setting up a Women’s Board, which also began its ministry in the same year. Then in 1938 a Board of Evangelism was formed, located in South Australia.
In the post war period, these bodies were supplemented by a Literature Board in 1947, located in Victoria, and in 1950 by a Men’s Board. Later, in 1956, the functions of the Young People’s and Literature Boards were combined in the Board of Education and Publication. In 1971, the Australian Baptist Missionary Society became a Board of the Union. For the most part, responsibility for the work of the Boards has been shared, as offices have rotated between the states. The Educational Board ceased to function in 1975.
Considerable restructuring has occurred from time to time, especially around 2010, including the appointment of a National Ministries Director, the adoption of the working title, Australian Baptist Ministries and a new logo.
There are now Affiliated Bodies which operate under their own Boards (Baptist Care Australia, Baptist World Aid Australia and Global Interaction) and Delegated Bodies (Crossover, Australian Baptist Women, Australian Baptist Youth Ministries, National Administrators’ Conference, Multicultural Ministries Task Force, Australian Baptist Insurances and Baptist Financial Services).
At the 2012 Australian Government Census, Baptists were 1.64% of the population or 352,499 persons, although this figure has to be compared with the official denominational membership figures in 2012 of 63,392 and a linked constituency of around 140,000 in 957 churches. The proportion of active members is relatively high. Australian Baptists also have numerous 'ethnic' churches, which reflects the multicultural nature of modern Australia.
As well as its relations with state Baptist Unions, churches and related organisations, BUA represents Australian Baptists in national and international scenes with other religious bodies and with government. BUA is a member body of the Baptist World Alliance, connecting Australian Baptists with over 220 other Baptist groups in about 120 countries, with a total of over 41,000,000 members.
(Adapted from a document by B. S. Brown and the BUA webpage.)