Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand

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Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand





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May 19-21, 1995: ‘A Call to Gather’ conference: Formation of the Anabaptist Network of Australia and New Zealand.

A group of gathering in Southland, Sheffield, Tasmania 19th – 21st May 1995 which had 18 people in attendance. A group of people from diverse religious back grounds and worshipping experiences gathered for a conference titled ‘A Call to Gather’ in Southland, Sheffield, Tasmania from May 19th-21st. The conference focused on discipleship, community, and peacemaking as presented in H. S. Bender’s Anabaptist Vision. The gathering demonstrated a network or personal relationships rather than organizational links. What brought the people together and solidified their relationships was a common desire to see the Anabaptist vision of discipleship and church life nurture and resource communities, local churches, house churches and individuals across Australia and New Zealand, and encourage and empower Christian service in the world.

March 9, 1998: Establishment of the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ).

By telephone conference motions were passed to establish the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand out of the Anabaptist Network of Australia and New Zealand and to formally incorporate the Association under the Victorian legislation. The meeting approved the statement of purposes and the rules to govern the operation of the Association. A committee was elected with representatives from several states.

March 1998: AAANZ Newsletter Issue #1 published with Doug Hynd as editor.

This newsletter was the first publication of material sent to the network.

August 1998: Establishment of Criteria for the Appointment of Pastoral Worker

The criteria called for the appointment of an ordained pastor from the Anabaptist tradition as a full time pastoral worker to be selected from a Mennonite Conference in the USA. The network planned to partner with Eastern Mennonite Missions in the establishment of a pastoral worker.

November 1998: Agreement with Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions.

Agreement was reached with the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions as to the form of partnership we will enter into with them to advance the ministry of the Association.

June 1999: First national conference of AAANZ.

The group explored pathways of reconciliation and a forward direction for the church in the 21st century by looking at a papper from Graeme Chatfield. Mark and Mary Hurst were able to be at the conference through a tourist visa. Established goals for AAANZ: the desire to link with other groups involved in reconciliation ministry; the need to link with other Anabaptists worldwide; the affirmation that regional representatives will make contact with people in their areas and build up the network concept; the dissemination of articles from an Anabaptist perspective through other Australian Christian publications; and the development of the web site.

February 2000: Approval of Mark and Mary Hurst sponsorship nomination.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs had approved the sponsorship nomination for Mark and Mary Hurst to return to Australia as pastoral workers. The Committee ratified Mark and Mary’s choice of ministry in Sydney.

June 2000: Formalized agreement between AAANZ and Eastern Mennonite Missions.

The agreement formalized the relationship between the two, clarified accountabilities, and designated Mark as the pastoral worker with Mary being free to seek external employment.

January 2001: AAANZ Conference in Melbourne from January 25-28.

The theme was “Peacemaking, Reconciliation and Mission.” The potential role for the Association in networking and providing resources for a spectrum of initiatives in peacemaking, community, and church building across Australia in which the Anabaptist tradition was manifesting developed.

May 2, 2003: Mark and Mary Hurst become Australian citizens.

August 2003: 11th – 17th – Mark and Mary Hurst represent AAANZ at MWC Assembly in Zimbabwe.

2004: Mark and Mary Hurst visited Canberra, Adelaide, Geelong, Melbourne, Launceston, and cities on both islands of New Zealand on behalf of AAANZ. 
Perth Anabaptist Fellowship formed and joins AAANZ.

January 2005: Ten year anniversary of AAANZ’s formation. Also, the bi-annual AAANZ conference was held in Canberra with the theme of “Christianity and Violence.”

March 2005: This issue of On The Road took on the subtitle of the “Journal” of the AAANZ.

This reflects the maturing of this publication and the Association it represents.

March 2006: At a Special General Meeting in March 2006 members agreed to a number of changes to the association rules. Most of these changes were needed because of a slow but steady growth that is spreading the membership beyond the original network of friends that founded the association. 

February 2008: AAANZ executive committee came together for a weekend retreat at Bundeena south of Sydney to share stories about their respective regions and growing partnerships. From this meeting came long-term vision work with an agreement on some main objectives of the AAANZ: 1) articulating and communicating our story; 2) growing and sustaining our network; and 3) building relationships and partnerships.

Mid 2009: The AAANZ executive committee felt the need to clarify its vision, mission and values and then to produce an operational manual. The core values were developed as the Association’s vision statement: 1) Jesus is the center of our faith; 2) community is the center of our life; and 3) Reconciliation is the center of our work.

March 22, 2009: Opening of Irene’s Place—a house of discipleship and peace in Canberra, Australia’s capital city.


The initiative for the establishment of the Association came out of a meeting in Tasmania in May 1995 which initially took the title of the Anabaptist Network of Australia and New Zealand. The report from that meeting noted that the contacts of the participants with the Anabaptist tradition were diverse. Some of the participants fellowshipped with Anabaptist congregations, others experienced meaningful dialogue with Anabaptist missioners, yet others were attracted to the insights of Anabaptism through theological and historical studies. Out of these varied contacts and experiences they shared a common desire to see the Anabaptist vision of discipleship and church life, nurture and resource communities, local churches house churches and individuals across Australia and New Zealand and encourage and empower Christian service in the world. Events since that gathering have pushed those involved in the Network to move towards the establishment of a more formal structure by way of incorporation of an Association.

Contemporary Life

Identifying with the Anabaptist Tradition

The Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand is a loose network of people who generally all belong to other congregations of all denominations. The connection is a belief in an Anabaptist distinctive which John McKinnon, current AAANZ president, would define as a radical Jesus-centered hermeneutic, a focus on reconciliation and community. Though, this community focus is more abundant in theory than practice, as those in the association are geographically scattered. McKinnon notes that most members are dissatisfied with doctrinally focused churches and seek a more praxis oriented alternative, which has practical implications for the big issues of the day (war and peace, justice, etc). McKinnon assumes that most members do not identify with Mennonites at all and perhaps even with historical Anabaptism much, but instead cling to this modern distinctive, this praxis oriented alternative. The group primarily offers resources that connect to the historic Anabaptist tradition through their website. Included on the website is a podcast of a reading of Harold S. Bender’s “Anabaptist Vision”; a short history of Anabaptism; and stories of early Anabaptists including Conrad Grebel, Michael Sattler, Menno Simons, and Dirk Willems. Furthermore, the AAANZ often includes in their Journal, “On the Road,” current writings from Anabaptist scholars or information about historic Anabaptism.


A major challenge for the Association is to define an identity and purpose when in practice the members are scattered geographically and a loose network that says they believe in relational community. The association is working to find practical expressions that give the network a sense of purpose. Also, they are working to find ways of transferring the vision of modern Anabaptism to a new generation of diverse, post-modern youth.

The Future

Membership growth has been tough and their numbers have been quite stagnant for years. Current leadership is trying to pass on the baton to younger and more energetic leadership. One option they have discussed is that the AAANZ becomes more a network of local “communities” than of individuals. The group will seek to foster relationship with groups that hold similar values. For example, the AAANZ has agreed to partner with Christian Peacemaker Teams in seeking to establish a regional base with support in New Zealand.

Important Individuals in the Life of the Church

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Electronic Resources

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Key Documents

Annotated Bibliography

Anabaptist Association of Australia & New Zealand." Anabaptist Association of Australia & New Zealand. Accessed December 9, 2014.

This is the website for the association. It includes information about anabaptism in general, specifics to this association, mailings, Christian Peacemaker Teams, archives of On The Road, contact information, and photos.

Glick, Kenton. "Subversive Element: Anabaptist Ideas Sread in Austrailia, Creating a New Concept of Church." Mennonite World Review, August 20, 2007. Accessed December 9, 2014.

Kenton Glick explores the unique style of mission employed by the Hursts in Australia. The Australian people told the Hursts that they didn’t need a new denomination, so instead, the Hursts articulated Anabaptism through resources, seminars, and personal contact.

Huber, Tim. "Upside-down Kingdom down under." Mennonite World Review, April 30, 2012. Accessed December 9, 2014.

In this article found in the Mennonite World Review, Tim Huber describes the AAANZ as a network of a diverse people journeying together, including Hutterites in Tasmania, Old Order pockets, the Beachy Amish fellowship in Queensland, Bruderhof, and numerous individuals. This article voices the benefits that technology yields to the association in allowing it to exist even through great geographic separation.

Hurst, Moriah. "Questions and Wise Elders." The Mennonite A Publication of Mennonite Church USA Providing Anabaptist Content Questions and Wise Elders Comments. November 17, 2009. Accessed December 8, 2014.

In this article, Moriah details her work with youth in the post-Christendom Australian context. She explores how youth want some direction, but don’t want to be controlled. She also details the “uncoolness” of working for the church, but also how it serves as a starting conversation where she can tell people about a God that is big enough to handle the questions that we have. She also tells some about the four women staying at Irene House through the Radical Journey program. Lastly, she tells of her work as coming from my longing to help other young adults find a place to discern their faith and their calling.

Hynd, Doug. Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand Newsletter, March 1, 1998, Issue 1 ed. Accessed December 9, 2014.,mnOD=On the Road,mnOD=Newsletters,mnOD=My Documents,dc=aaanz,dc=mennonite,dc=net.

This was the first newsletter from AAANZ written by Doug Hynd in 1998. Eventually this turned into “On the Road”(Issue 6, November 1999) and in March of 2006 it took on the title of “Journal” to mark its maturation. It includes: association News, background to the association, how the association will function, purposes of the association, information about anabaptism, news, a newsletter mandate, information about John Howard Yoder’s death, the Mennonite World Church, an article on discipleship, a review section, and a resource section.

Langmead, Ross. Reimagining God and Mission: Perspectives from Australia. Hindmarsh, S. Aust: ATF Press, 2007.

Pages 99-112 include an article titled Walking in Resusrrection: An Anabaptist Approach to Mission in Australia by Mark Hurst, who, with his wife Mary, are the pastoral workers for AAANZ. His article contributes to a this larger work on a reimagining of mission. He focuses on mission with the statements that: Jesus is the center of our faith, community is the center of our life, and reconciliation is the center of our work. With those as the foundation, he details a desire to hold together evangelism, peacemaking, and reconciliation in mission work.

LaVeist, Wil. "Mentoring Youth Leaders a Fulfilling Ministry." Mennonite Mission Network: Network News. February 27, 2014. Accessed December 8, 2014.

Moriah Hurst coordinates Praxis, a network of youth workers in churches, mission organizations, schools and agencies, that helps people serve their communities. The organization runs an accredited youth and community development program for young adult students. Moriah has strong connections to and works with the AAANZ.

McKinnon, John. "President's Report." On the Road, no. 56 (2014): 4. Accessed December 9, 2014. The Road Journals/OTR56 - Community.pdf.

John McKinnon, president of the AAANZ, raises questions about the future and purpose of the AAANZ. He explores the idea of investing in younger, more passion-filled leadership. He questions how AAANZ’s purpose of creating community in the anabaptist tradition will manifest with a geographically separate people. This article appears in the most recently available “On the Road” journal from the AAANZ website.

Mennonite Mission Network Staff. "Second Generation Takes Leadership down under." Mennonite Mission Network: Network News. September 11, 2008. Accessed December 8, 2014.

This article from Mennonite Mission Network narrates the induction of Moriah Hurst, daughter to Mark and Mary Hurst, into pastoral ministry at Canberra Baptist Church. In addition to her half-time role as associate pastor, Moriah will be responsible for Irene’s Place: A House of Discipleship and Peace, a new young adult venture providing an experience of discipleship and peacemaking for Australian and international young adults. AAANZ is hoping to use the Canberra project as a model for discipleship programs in other cities around Australia and New Zealand.

Mennonite Mission Network Staff. "Peace People Seeking to Share, Teach." Mennonite Mission Network: Network News. April 2, 2009. Accessed December 8, 2014.,teach.aspx.

March 22, 2009 marked the opening of Irene’s Place—a house of discipleship and peace in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. The AAANZ, one of the sponsoring groups for Irene’s Place, had several members attend the house opening. The association would like to start similar programs around the region, recognizing that young adults are the future of the Anabaptist movement in Australia and New Zealand.

Paulson, Rebekah. "Mission Workers in Australia Cultivating Community." Mennonite Mission Network: Network News. March 16, 2006. Accessed December 8, 2014. This article from Mennonite Mission Network details the ministry that Mark and Mary Hurst are engaged in as cultivating community. The article tells how they are trying to establish an Anabaptist community to be a place of hospitality and learning with space for retreats and small workshops.

Switzer, Bobby. Interview with John McKinnon. Email interview. November 30, 2014.

Switzer interviewed John McKinnon, president of AAANZ. He gave detailed responses to questions about: what it means for the association to identify as Anabaptist, the current identity of the association, the current and projected challenges, and membership.

Switzer, Bobby. Interview with Mark Hurst. Email interview. November 30, 2014.

Mark Hurst, pastoral worker for the association, provided Switzer with a detailed history of the AAANZ from their procedural handbook. It included a detailed timeline, information about the foundation’s inception and guiding principles.

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