In the previous 3 editions of `Together’ in 2014 we have reflected on the history of BFS, Part 3 in the Spring edition of Together noted regulatory changes which brought about the need for Baptist Financial Services (BFS) to hold an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL), which was issued in June 2007.
Total assets had grown to $147 million by December 2007 and loans amounted to $77 million. Since early 2008 the growth and development of BIF services have continued.
Changing Government regulations impacted the overall governance of BIF by increasing complexity. Michael O’Reilly was appointed as Risk and Compliance Manager in 2008 to assist the Board to establish a risk and compliance governance framework for BIF operations. This led the Board to establish a number of sub-committees to assist with their governance responsibilities – an Assets and Liabilities Committee, an Audit and Risk Compliance Committee, a Communications Due Diligence Committee and a Human Resources Committee.
A new Strategic Plan 2008-2011 was developed resulting in revised BFS Core Statements clarifying: Our Purpose, Our Vision and Our Values. The focus was on capital management, and growing relationships with stakeholders whilst seeking Baptists and Baptist organisations to identify with the values of a ministry function through BFS services.
At the May 2008 Annual General Meeting, a more contemporary constitution was adopted.
In the second half of 2008, a global financial crisis took place. Lending by many financial institutions virtually ceased. During this crisis and the following 1-2 years, BIF saw funds grow by over 4% pa, enabling lending to many Churches and Christian organisations – a vital service, particularly as other banks were reducing their lending to churches.
In November 2008, David Evans stepped down as BIF Chairman and David Slinn was appointed Chairman.
By the end of 2009 the funds managed by BIF through the various States had grown considerably with client investments of $173.12m, client loans of $94.26m, and total assets of $174.35m. Upgrades to software systems and equipment continued as an essential requirement of all financial services institutions in order to manage and provide clients with contemporary accounts and services.
The 2008-2011 Strategic Plan saw the need to move towards recognition as a national Baptist organisation in view of the extent of association with State Baptist Unions and clients located outside NSW/ACT. Discussions with the Baptist Union of NSW and the Baptist Union of Australia (BUA) resulted in approval being given in May 2010 for BIF to become a Delegated Body of BUA, and thereby, an Australian Baptist Ministry.
The recognition as a national Baptist ministry led to a number of significant changes. At the Annual General Meeting in May 2010, approval was given to change the company name to Baptist Financial Services Australia Ltd and from 1 July 2010 – the former BIF was now BFS!!
At the same time BFS launched new branding to reflect this name change, including a new logo and new website to reflect the new national image.
In July 2010 the Sydney office of BFS was relocated from Glebe to Epping in NSW, adjacent to the offices of the Baptist Union.
In keeping with good governance practice, the BFS Board initiated a regular review process of Directors, carried out by external consultants in 2010 and 2011 and by internal process in 2013. This review process provides an effective means to enhance the overall performance of the Board and deal with identified issues in a constructive way.
In January 2011, a BFS EFTPOS Prepaid Card facility was launched and later in April 2012 a BFS Visa Prepaid Card was made available, extending the ability to transact outside of Australia. In February 2013 BFS released a BFS Visa Prepaid PayCard specifically for exempt FBT benefits for eligible Pastors and Charity workers in conjunction with a specific taxation ruling.
On 29 July 2011 the company Constitution was changed, finalising the transition of BFS to a national Baptist ministry. The changes were to the membership composition of BFS, and the appointment of Directors by the Baptist Union of Australia on the nominations of State Baptist Unions. Shedden & Green, Chartered Accountants, had been Auditor of the company since its inception. At this meeting, Tyndale KSG Pty Ltd, a national entity aligned with Shedden & Green, was appointed Auditor.
In August 2011 BFS began sponsoring a service of Treasurer’s and GST Guides for State Baptist Unions and associated Churches to assist the roles of the Treasurer/Administrator in every Church and to support them in their ministry to local congregations. BFS has facilitated and supported the electronic provision of offerings by congregations to their Churches since 2002. In August 2012, this service was re-launched as `iGive’, a secure online offerings facility. The iGive service is a ministry investment by BFS, allowing offerings to participating Churches by any individual from a card or by direct debit, with all costs paid by BFS.
At the Annual General Meeting in May 2013 David Evans did not seek to renew his term as Director, thereby bringing to a conclusion his contribution of almost 21 years as a Director, including 8 years as Chairman. At this meeting, Trevor Spicer, nominated by the Baptist Union of Victoria, was appointed a Director.
A new Strategic Plan 2014 – 2016 was developed by the Board in October 2013, resulting in a revision of the BFS Core Statements setting out the Purpose, Vision, Moral Owners, Stakeholders and Values of the BFS ministry.
In February 2014, on the nomination of the Baptist Churches of Western Australia, Gregory Holland was appointed a Director.
At the Annual General Meeting held in May 2014, Darren McDonald was nominated by the Baptist Churches of South Australia as a BFS Director, and was duly appointed.
On 17 April 2014 advice was received that Elton Wilson had passed away. Elton was the first Chairman of BIF from inception of the ministry, and held this position until 29 November 1990.
At the end of September 2014 BFS held total assets of $285,994,550.76, had advanced loans of $123,900,897.57, held a capital of $20,935,329.29 – and had paid out $10,752,823 by way of Grants to assist and develop Baptist work across Australia.
On 5 September 2014 a 30th Anniversary Celebration Dinner was held at Sydney University attended by around 130 guests, including David and Kerry Pope, and Doug and Diane Pope (Sons/Daughters-in-Law of the late Rev Reg Pope), current and past Directors/staff, Baptist Union leaders from across Australia, a number of BFS clients and BFS service providers. Rev Brendon Wood, Communications and PR Manager, BaptistCare NSW & ACT was MC, with music provided by the Endless Praise team and several contributions from past and present leaders on their ministry with BFS. At this celebration we gave thanks to God for his leading and guidance, and for the faithfulness of all who had shared in the vision and development of BFS (formerly BIF) ministry over the past 30 years.
During this celebration, it was recognised that we are always better working together, and can achieve more together than we ever could on our own. This has been and will continue to be a feature of BFS’ ministry. If we can capture the vision of partnering our God entrusted financial resources with BFS, there is so much more that can and will be achieved for the Kingdom than we may ever imagine.
Over the past 30 years the Directors and staff have changed, but God has been faithful in providing the people with the necessary skills, experience and abilities to lead and grow and to take His ministry forward.
A detailed history publication of the 30 year ministry of BFS is available in a booklet entitled “Celebrating 30 Years 1984-2014”. A copy is available to any interested person without charge, through a BFS Office (Ph: 1300 650 542 or email: email@example.com).