What’s Happening at Barossa Community Church
Pastor Richard Ansoul writes…
At the Farmers Market a few Saturdays ago, my wife and I bumped into an old friend, a leading Lutheran layman in the valley. I mentioned a matter that would involve the Baptists dealing with the Lutherans; I said, “ if you can deal with heretics ?” ”HERETICS !” he exclaimed, “you’re not heretics. You’re LOCALS. Everyone knows you”.
This heady honour completes the circle begun in 1995. The Leader ran a front page story on our arrival from Sydney, and quoted the newly arrived Baptist pastor saying we intended to become Barossans in order to win Barossans (a quote from apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 “I have become all things to men, that I might save some”).
Ruth and I have settled here, and plan to continue living in our home in Tanunda for the rest of our lives, worshipping with the precious family of faith that God has assembled. Though retired I will, for example, still be organising the performance of Messiah on 5th April 2020. Tickets will be sold exclusively through the Good Seed bookshop (part of the HUB, in Tanunda).
Let me put on record the amazing journey of faith it has been; 1994 God’s call to me on Mengler’s Hill “I want you to come to South Australia”. We only want to do what He wants, so we came. At incalculable cost on a personal level; leaving our family, and a thriving congregation in the Hills district in Sydney. 1997 the invitation from Dr Tolly Jaloshin to be the dean of the Kiev Christian University. I declined this invitation, but offered to teach an intensive 3 week course on church history. This came about in 1998, and proved the germ of connecting to Russian-speakers who would become our fellow-labourers in an exciting cross-cultural project. In 2000 we led a Barossa team to Ukraine, featuring the clown team from Langmeil church. From that point on it became clear to me that BCC was picking up the vision of our state’s beloved founder, George Fife Angas, that the new state would become the centre for the diffusion of Christianity in the southern hemisphere. He was only half right. The outstanding realisation of his dream began with the Lutheran settlers commissioning dedicated workers to reach out to the native population. The negative forces of two world wars took its toll on Lutheran cross-cultural momentum. It seemed there was an element of BCC spring-boarding off that historic beginning to initiate a new dynamic , recapturing an apostolic spirit, and moulding BCC in the profile of the first outreach base to the Gentiles in Antioch. Paul and Barnabas seemed to come alive in our midst. Each year brought bold new advances, using the human resources of KCU students to find openings for the gospel amongst a heretofore resistant unreached people group, based in Crimea (now occupied by Russia). Our presence among them as ambassadors of Jesus is now well established, and will continue under the providential leading of God’s Spirit.
At the regular Sunday service on 10th November I announced my retirement. Then Ruth and I came forward and the elders prayed for us, laying hands on us.
On our wedding day, 14th Dec 1968, at Concord Baptist church, in Sydney, our beloved pastor, John Curtis, included a dire warning, in his address, that our road ahead, in joint ministry, would be tough and challenging. Not the sweet phrases one might expect. We both recall the mild alarm.
That Sunday, as the elders prayed, I stood facing Ruth, as I had on that far-off day. John Curtis was right. Later, at home, I apologized deeply for dragging Ruth through the challenges of church ministry over half a century. She said “Its what I signed up for”.
Our formal farewell was celebrated on the 15th December at our regular meeting place, the Music Centre of Faith Lutheran college, at 10am.