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    Greater Sydney Conference Annual Report for 2023

    20 December 2023

    Here is the year in review for the Greater Sydney Conference.

    Conference

    First up is what’s new with the development at 4 Cambridge Street in Epping. Early stages of construction have commenced and were are now engaging with key stakeholders and architects in the interior design of our new head office space.

    In a move both practical and aspirational, GSC expanded our southern boundary to incorporate population growth in greater Illawarra District. The new boundary of our conference is the northern-most point of Minnamurra Beach past Shellharbour. The expansion adds a house of worship to the existing 3 churches in our southern-most region.

    In February we farewelled one of the hardest working duos in GSC history. Dedicated and tenacious only begin to describe Bruce and Maxine Hill who retired from Crosslands management after a decade of service. Norman and Lynn Roberts now manage the centre. The facility has seen construction of a new shed and the addition of solar power to offset rising electricity costs since.

    In other staff news, GSC Youth Director Pastor Simon Gigliotti was appointed Northern Australian Conference President, and our Director of Evangelism, Pastor Travis Manners, was called to North New South Wales.

    Evangelistic campaigns in schools and churches played a vital role in spreading the message of the gospel in 2023. On August 29th, the Greater Sydney Conference reached the milestone of 10,000 members—and counting. This milestone proves that the hard work of members, churches and the organisation is working to spread the gospel throughout Sydney and beyond.

    As with many things, evangelism often requires some brushing up. This year we introduced REFRAME, practical mission workshops for members to up-skill and create practical plans for outreach and mission.

    “Recharge”, a monthly meeting of initiative of the ministerial department for the professional development of our ministers launched in 2023, have proven to be an invaluable resource. The gatherings provide a dedicated space for ministers to come together and enhance their skills, share insights, and rejuvenate their mission and purpose.

    Substantial repair and renovation work was conducted on our Lord Howe Island church and Pastor’s residence by a group of volunteers from Wahroonga church. Their commitment to preserving this historic place of worship, both financially and physically, is nothing short of inspiring. We are grateful for their contribution and dedication to the property.

     

    Ministries

    In October, the Health Department partnered with the Personal Ministry, Stewardship and Evangelism departments to run an ELIA Wellness health screening booth at the Mind Body Spirit Festival at Sydney’s International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour. Around 70 volunteers served over 400 people providing health assessments, massages and lifestyle consult.

    To continue and encourage their health journey, various churches partnered with the Conference to running follow up health programs and lifestyle and fitness clubs.

    Following Elia Wetness’s attendance at the 2023 Mind Body Spirit Festival at Sydney’s International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour, various churches partnered with the Conference to run follow-up health programs, and lifestyle and fitness clubs. Here, the Strathfield Adventist Chinese Church run a Bao Bun Making class.

    Over the years we have witnessed the extraordinary workings of God as we’ve gathered in unity for prayer and fasting. Over 130 attendees from 40+ of our churches and the AUC attended our Annual Prayer day conference. We praise God for the unseen works resulting from these moments of devotion.

    The last 12 months has seen the building of the Faith Builders app helping Homes and Churches build the faith and spirituality of our children. This new Faith Builders app is full of parenting and worship ideas and will bring our homes alive spiritually, helping our parents take back their Biblical role as primary faith mentors of their children.

    In 2019 the Greater Sydney Adventist Schools Counselling & Psychology Team was formed and appointed a manager (Claire Marsh, a Registered Psychologist and board-approved supervisor with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) for one day a week. Today, the team currently consists of 10 mental health professionals across our seven Sydney school campuses.

    The ABC has been in Minchinbury for over a year now and have settled into the new location. Customers indicates that the Minchinbury location is more convenient for the vast majority, however, there are few who prefer the Epping site and look forward to us returning to the site. (Graphic: ABC store)

    With the bushfires of 2019-2020 followed by lockdowns and restrictions in 2020-2022, event cancellations meant little customer face time, if any. 2023 saw ABC’s return to Big Camps and other conference events.

     

    Education

    Over the past year the Greater Sydney Adventist Education team have welcomed a new Education Director Mrs Rhonda Belson, who has strengthened our conference through her leadership of our schools. We acknowledge and thank Mr David Hobson for his leadership of our schools for the last two years.

    Overall, our student enrolments increased by 3.2% in the past year. We have been working to implement our strategic plan— developed in 2022 — which focuses on how we will strengthen Adventist Identity in our schools, enhance our educational offerings to improve student outcomes, invest in our people and school cultures and build for the future.

    With 50% of new school chaplains this year, there has been an intentional focus on strengthening these teams to support not only our students, but also our staff, in their spiritual development.

    Adventist Schools Australia Recently launched the ABIDE bibles, which have been designed specifically for staff in our schools as a resource to strengthen their spiritual foundation and support them as they build fellowship and share Jesus’ love within their school community. With currently 36% of non-SDA teachers working in our Sydney schools—an increase of 4% from 2022—this resource will be a valuable tool to connect staff to God’s Word and help them ‘Reveal Jesus’ to their students.

    In 2023 we saw strong results in the NAPLAN assessments, with the majority of our schools achieving strong and exceeding results for their students. We also had one of our schools featured in the media – on radio and television, to discuss how their teaching practices are linked to their strong NAPLAN results.

    Lastly, in conjunction with other NSW conferences, we’ve employed a Registration and Accreditation (RAC) Senior Officer to oversee the shared services team in NSW/ACT and focus on strengthening the compliance of our schools with NESA and other legislative requirements; reducing risks to our school system in NSW Adventist Education.

    Aged Care

    Adventist Aged Care has continued to provide superior care to all our residents across our Hornby, Wahroonga and Kings Langley Villages. Through our collective efforts the number of enquiries for Adventist Aged Care is up 25% this year. A total of 906 enquiries have been received between January and September in 2023, which compares to 728 at the same time last year.

    Occupancy at our independent living apartments and villas at both our Kings Langley and Wahroonga sites averages 97.5%. This is up from an average occupancy rate of 95% last year.

    In our residential care facilities, our occupancy rate average 89%. At Kings Langley, occupancy has increase to 91%, with an additional 10 beds filled this year compared to last year. In comparison, the occupancy rate at Kings Langley was 85% at the same time last year. Bed vacancies at Wahroonga remains the same when compared to last year.

    This year we have focused creating a video series to highlight the stories that bring our villages to life. We got to know some of our favourite staff, heard about the importance of keeping our brains healthy, captured life lessons and stories from our residents, and are learning how to stay social.

     

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