Our Pastor

Rev. Alison Sampson is our pastor. She is passionate about finding ways to integrate all people into the life of the church, and is, in the words of one congregational member, a Bible dork. She writes:

As I reflect on how my ministry has unfolded, one thing clearly is, and continues to be, ‘the better thing’ for me: and this is the Word made flesh. Every time someone tells a story about the Word at work in their life, every time I see it being lived out, every time we pray in its presence, I sense the spirit flowing between us. This experience is always profoundly healing, sustaining, and empowering. It’s the source of all that is good in life; and I want others to experience it, too.

So how does this conviction take flesh in my work?

It means helping people notice the Word made flesh in their lives. It means curating spaces for them to witness so that other people can share in the good news, too. And it means interpreting how the Word continues to speak into and be seen in the world around us today.

This is why I preach from the Bible, and not pop psychology or management texts; and this is why we sing Psalms and pray prayers directly from Scripture. I want Biblical imagery, metaphors and language to fill each person, sloshing around inside them like Scriptural soup; I want the words of Scripture to lodge in each and every heart. I want Biblical images to shape how you see; Biblical language to shape how you speak; Biblical prayers to shape how you pray; Biblical habits to shape how you act. I want the Word to bubble up in you when you least expect it, surprising you, challenging you, comforting you, and guiding you, as you go about your daily life.

This is why I push for the Lent book each year, even when people struggle to write for it and I think it will never get off the ground: for it provides structure and impetus for members of the congregation to do solid reflective work, and to share it with others.

This is why I invite people to write Wednesday emails, and offer reflections in the worship service. It’s why I asked the small group and the youth group to focus on the Bible. It’s why I begin every leadership meeting with Biblical reflection and prayer, and why I keep encouraging people to read the Bible, and to learn the tools of slow reading, and to practice them. And this is why, when I am in conversation with people about their lives, I so often mention a Biblical story or passage and wonder aloud whether this is what we are seeing enfleshed here.

Because the Word became flesh and lived among us, and continues to live among us now, feeding, healing, reconciling, liberating, and empowering: and from his fullness we have received, grace upon grace. But unless we are steeped in the Word, letting it dwell in us as we dwell in Christ, we will not have eyes to see it or language to speak it. In short, we will miss out.

These words were taken from Alison’s reflection on the word made flesh. After many years at South Yarra Community Baptist Church in both informal and formal roles, she moved to Warrnambool in June 2016 to establish Sanctuary.  To watch her super-dorky video on her sense of calling, click here. To listen to an interview with her on local radio, click here.

Email her at sanctuarybaps@gmail.com.

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