Q&A with Ministry Development Officer, cyclist, gardener and vocational deacon, The Rev’d Tim Booth
Meet Tim Booth and find out about his ACSQ roles, current projects, faith journey, favourite scripture, secret skill and earliest memory
Where do you currently live and where do you worship?
I live on the northside of Brisbane. I worship at St Michael and All Angels’ Anglican Church, New Farm.
How long have you been involved in the Anglican Church and in what roles?
I’ve been involved in the Anglican Church all my life: then, Anglican by birth; now, Anglican by choice. My roles have included altar serving, soprano chorister, youth group leader, Gathering of Young Anglicans small group leader/community leader, theological formation student, school youth minister/chaplain and vocational deacon.
What are your current roles and what do they involve?
I’m employed full-time as Ministry Development Officer, and am based at St Martin’s House in the Cathedral Precinct. In this role I assist ordained and lay parish leaders with discerning their place in God’s mission through resourcing, coaching, referral and group facilitation using dialogue methodologies such as Talking Circles, World Café and Open Space.
I also serve as an Honorary Deacon at St Michael and All Angels’ Anglican Church, New Farm where I assist with preaching, community engagement and music ministry.
What projects or activities are you currently working on in your Ministry Development Officer role?
Firstly, assisting parishes develop Mission Action Plans and facilitating or resourcing parish visioning days. Secondly, supporting parish leaders with their parishioner and community engagement methodologies as a one-on-one consultant. Thirdly, visiting deanery meetings to promote collaboration within and between deaneries and alongside St Martin’s House staff and Resource Churches/Specialists.
What has been one of the highlights of your time in your Ministry Development Officer role so far?
Last year I was privileged to be part of mission discernment conversations with parish leaders in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and at a Connection Day in June, which was run by Bishop Jeremy for Maleny, Palmwoods and Nambour churches. In these conversations, I introduced five furry friends to assist with their journey. A milestone was reached at the start of this year with the appointment of The Rev’d Deb Bird to St Augustine’s, Palmwoods in a part-time role, which she undertakes in addition to her part-time role as Priest-in-Charge of The Parish of Maleny Montville Kenilworth. The highlight was enjoying the liturgy of Deb’s packed commissioning service at St Augustine’s in February. In his sermon on the Beatitude’s, Bishop Jeremy spoke about how ministry starts with acknowledging our “original blessing”. I also enjoyed singing 1960s-2000s tracks on my guitar for the post-service supper, which ended with ‘I Am Australian’ and Deb joining in on clapping sticks.
What are your Ministry Development Officer plans and goals for the next 12 months?
To visit all 12 deaneries in our Diocese and assisting as many parishes as possible with their visioning days and Mission Action Plan discernment processes.
Can you tell us a little about your Christian faith journey?
I was blessed to be born into the Christian faith through my parents, who were ABM missionaries in PNG. My sense of comprehensive Anglicanism has been formed through my dad, an Anglican priest; Anglican youth camps; university evangelical groups and Anglican Society (“Angsoc”); a Anglican lectionary preaching group; intentionally connecting with critical biblical scholarship, evangelistic authors and the Catholic/contemplative tradition; service to young people through high school ministry; staff chaplaincy in Christian community service organisations; and, diaconal ministry and ecumenical chaplaincy links.
How does your Christian faith inspire you and shape your outlook, life choices and character?
Following Christ, connecting with a community of faith and the wider community, and discerning the leading of God’s Spirit have been ongoing foundations in my life.
What is your favourite scripture and why?
This depends on when you ask me! At the moment I am engrossed by the profound subversive power of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel.
What person of faith inspires you the most and why?
I’ve been shifting away recently from heroic figures. I do, however, have a handful of Christian mentors I seek out as sources of mature faith, quiet practice wisdom and committed community engagement.
Why are the Uluru Statement From the Heart reforms, including the Voice to Parliament, so important?
The Uluru Statement is an invitation to all Australians to help heal the ongoing harm of the past. The Voice to Parliament will give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a say on the matters that impact their communities so this healing can happen.
Why is it important for Christians to celebrate National Reconciliation Week?
Self-examination, lament, reconciliation and collective visioning have always been core to our Judeo-Christian tradition. This year’s National Reconciliation Week theme is “Be a Voice for Generations”.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?
The most memorable piece of advice I’ve had about Church affiliation was: “Denominations and churches are like seats – we each have a seat-type we find most comfortable to sit in. Just know which seat you prefer and why!” It was given by an ecumenically active member of a lectionary preaching study group I was in after one of our early morning meetings.
What are the primary strengths of the Church and what is the best way to make the most of these for the benefit of our communities?
In my experience, the Church, though an imperfect vessel, at its best gives us a space to grow in a diverse faith community of people whom we may not normally hang out with. When we gather, we tap into an empowering and timeless divine presence through spiritual practices that transform our lives and those of our communities. To effectively use these gifts to benefit those around us it’s essential to have a sense of being “in mission”, rather than being “in an exclusive club”. As William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1942-44, said: “The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.”
What do you do in your free time to recharge and relax?
Family time at home, native gardening, cycle touring, sampling rustic cafes with family/friends, bush walking, Sunday worship, frisbee golf and playing pickleball.
If you could have a billboard with any text on it, what would it say and why?
My current favourite billboard – reminding me of Paul in Philippians 4.8 – is in the McLachlan St, Fortitude Valley tunnel near the Story Bridge. Painted on the sweeping right-hand turn in large red capital letters is: “The more you think about it, the bigger it gets”.
What book have you given away most as a gift and why?
In my 25 years as a school and community services chaplain I gave away and lent Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation most. While each is from a different Christian spiritual tradition, they offered students, staff and volunteers, who have a range of world views, practical tools for navigating a meaningful life (Covey) and down-to-earth spiritual guidance for discerning vocation (Palmer).
Where do you do your best thinking?
Early morning is my most creative time, with inspiration and creativity often striking in the garden, a rainforest fountain meditation space down the side of the house, bushland, lone exercise, car trips, cycling home from church, or exploratory conversations with companions.
What is the kindest gesture you have ever witnessed?
In May 2006 I cycled the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail. Towards the end of the 12-day journey from the French border, I was recovering from a long day in the saddle at a crowded government hostel in Portomarín, Galicia. After walking out of a large shared dorm into the busy hallway, I observed a pilgrim sitting propped up against the wall cradling the battered and blistered feet of a dusty travelling companion, bathing their raw wounds. While the public hostel was light on for hot water (and toilet paper!), I was reminded of Jesus of Nazareth who washed his disciples’ feet in humility, compassion and love.
What is your earliest memory?
Racing Paddle Pop sticks as a three- or four-year-old in large, stone, water-logged gutters outside the parish rectory at St Margaret’s Anglican Church in Cairns.
If you are having a bad day, what do you do to cheer yourself up?
I try to curiously notice something around me; think of three experiences from the day that I’m grateful for and thank God for them; and, go to my favourite bakery for yummy refreshments, while reading a trashy free newspaper!
What is your secret skill?
I can juggle.
What day would you like to re-live and why?
The sheer sense of adventure and excited expectation while unpacking my touring bicycle at Sicily’s Palermo airport, ready for 1400km of cycling up to Rome while enjoying spectacular scenery, moving Catholic shrines, breath-taking Greco-Roman ruins, flavoursome cuisine, village hospitality and remarkable cyclist-friendly motorists.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would that be?
Chocolate – in almost all forms.
Editor’s note: If you would like to find out more about Visioning Days and Mission Action Plans, please email Ministry Development Officer The Rev’d Tim Booth.
This year’s National Reconciliation Week (NRW) theme is “Be a Voice for Generations”. NRW is held between 27 May and 3 June annually. Visit the National Reconciliation Week website for resources, more information and to register your events.Jump to next article