NewHope is a completely re-visioned church that establishes and nurtures communities of hope in Melbourne. We are passionate about the individual and social transformation that emerges from following Jesus in community. We serve from many geographic locations (our main campus, scores of homes & businesses) and through numerous cooperative enterprises (e.g. preschool, medical centre, café, events business, sports program, community care) to advance the mission of God and embody contemporary expressions of the gospel of Jesus in our region.
NewHope was born in a bus. As young families began to populate our local region Charles Hemming, a layman who loved to teach Sunday School, saw an opportunity. He began to hold new classes in the open air connecting with community families. But gathering children in paddocks and chook sheds had its challenges and he soon needed a better solution. In the late 1940s the Box Hill Baptist Church purchased a Tramways bus and established the Mobile Sunday School. The work grew. At the peak of this ministry Charles had eight different classes meeting on the hour all through Sunday. The first class every Sunday morning was held at the Corner of Middleborough and Springfield Roads where NewHope Baptist Church continues to thrive six decades later.
Then we moved in with a Preschool. Following World War II building materials were in short supply. It was not possible to build a traditional church building so the church family got creative once again. They identified a community need and erected a preschool facility that could double as a church meeting space on weekends. With their faces towards the community the witness to Jesus continued to grow.
The ‘Sunday School Bus’ and the first ‘Preschool Building’ have become important pictures of how we continue do our work at NewHope today. We don’t use dedicated ‘Christian’ spaces and we don’t lock our activities into traditional ‘Church’ categories. We rent, borrow, buy and build so we can host the community as we share Jesus and worship God. And we engage in everything from Bible study to global justice, education to medicine, youth work to food security, prayer to sports clubs as acts of obedience to God’s amazing mission in the world. We leverage the strength of working together to do some exciting and strategic things (the same way they set up a preschool in the very early days) and we celebrate each other’s individual opportunities to have a go on mission (as with Charles Hemming all those years ago). We love the fact that our first meeting place was on wheels and we never want to stop moving forward with God.
Today we continue to provide open and welcoming spaces for our neighbours. We meet in multiple locations and host many life-giving initiatives with the same passion – to love God, love others and serve the world.
We belong to the Baptist family. Three big ideas that define Baptists are:
- Vital spirituality. We know that God is real. We experience Him when we pray and read our Bibles. We grow in Him as we follow Jesus. We find amazing power and wisdom as we receive His Spirit in our everyday lives. Everyone can know God’s love and grace and we help each other to thrive in this life-giving spirituality.
- Local decision making. We make the important decisions as a local group. When we appoint our leaders, shape our vision and make property and building decisions, it is our members who make these decisions. We associate with other like-minded churches, but we are not controlled by a central government or a distant authority.
- Community engagement. We are committed to the well-being of people. We reach out to love our neighbours and to serve our world because we love God. We know there is more hope in following the teaching and truth of Jesus than in any other person, philosophy or program.
The Baptist movement started over 400 years ago during a period of great religious turmoil in Europe. Corrupt leaders, political agendas and complicated church structures were squashing the faith and spirituality of ordinary people. Many voices called for reform and in some places those in power (like the monarchs in England) forced changes on the common people for their own purposes. Our forefathers reacted against these power plays of the Bishops, Popes, Regents and Kings, and they took bold action. Ignoring the rules of Church and State, they baptised believers on the basis of simple piety and formed new communities without any official consent. This earned them persecution and slander. They were decried as separatists, hunted and killed as anarchists, and labeled ‘baptisers’ or ‘Baptists’ – the name is still with us today. Like many movements, the conflict that gave us birth has long since faded away, but the ideals that drove our founders, define us still.
Around the world there are more than 150,000,000 Baptists. Most Baptists associate together in an Alliance which includes 238 National Baptist organisations in 124 different countries. In Australia there is a Baptist organisation in each State and these cooperate together as Australian Baptist Ministries. You will find some great information, inspiration and resources on these websites.