Making a brave choice: Closing down a ministry that still attracts a crowd

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Weeks after attracting a record 700 people to its Summer School, New Creation Teaching Ministry, a cross-denominational ministry in South Australia is shutting down.

It wasn’t that they only had oldies attending. This year’s summer school attracted hundreds of young people and children. And New Creation Teaching Ministry has profoundly affected thousands, if not tens of thousands in South Australia.

“We have a strong sense that God is calling us to finish up”, says New Creation.

“What God is going to do next will not be contained within a teaching ministry structure such as ours, but will emerge in many new and different ways”.

For example, one aim of New Creation was to promote Bible teaching ministry in the churches.

“God is not dependent on us at New Creation”, Andrew Klynsmith of New Creation told Eternity. “We are sure that the preaching of the gospel of Grace will go on in the churches.”

New Creation’s teaching of “the grace of the triune God, from the beginning to the end of the Bible, grounded in the cross of Christ, with a view to the ultimate community of God with His people” seems set to carry on.

New Creation managed to bridge charismatic and reformed theologies from its foundation in 1974. This was due to its founder Geoffrey Bingham, a former prisoner-of war, farmer, minister, missionary, and Bible College principal.

Bingham’s ministry was forged by his suffering in the Changi prisoner of war camp together with the East African Revival which left him “unsatisfied with anything else but the church fully alive in Christ” according to Martin Bleby, Bingham’s long-time associate.

Geoffrey Bingham interviewed by Rob Linn

These audio interviews were conducted by Australian historian Rob Linn in 2005

Listen now on Sermon Audio

Geoffrey Bingham talks about his parents, their background, his relatives, siblings and their life at Wahroonga, NSW.

The centrality of church in his life, his certainty of God and his call to the ministry; his education; his father’s reaction to him going into the Anglican ministry; leaving home and moving to Sydney to complete his education; attending Moore College to study Theology and his memories of his time there; his first meeting with Laurel Chapman (his future wife) in 1939.

The war and his enlistment into the army; recruit training, army life; his embarkation for overseas service in January 1941; his Christian faith and army life; how he became known as the ‘battling padre’; Malaya and his first impressions of Singapore and the beauty of Malaya; jungle warfare training; editing battalion magazines; how some of his articles came to be played on the ABC; the difference between the Australian and British views of the Japanese invasion of Malaya.

Recalls the signal technology of the time and the ferocity of Japanese attack; the withdrawal to Singapore; being wounded and captured as a Prisoner of War (POW) from a field hospital; the Changi prison camp, the loss of heart of Allied troops and the attempts at self-survival; the daily functioning of life in camp; the formation of a group for Bible studies.

Bingham speaks about his return to Australia after the war and how his experiences affected him; his memories of the response of the people of Darwin and Sydney to the POWs; his families reaction to him; his return to Moore College and dealing with the things he had learnt in the prison camp; the church’s reaction to those who had served in the armed forces; the challenges to his ethics and sensibilities.

His marriage to Laurel Chapman and her understanding of his experiences; moving to his brother’s farm and his eventual return to Moore College; his writing success, the publication of ‘Laughing Gunner’ in the Bulletin; writing short stories for papers and journals in Australia and New Zealand; Douglas Stewart; how what he had learned in Changi became the basis for the rest of his life, ministry and writing; his appointment 1953 to the Garrison Church, Sydney.

The move to Pakistan for 10 years as missionaries, returning to Sydney in 1966; an invitation from the Adelaide Bible Institute to be its Principal; his wishes for the church; his international ministry; mentions his book, Love is the Spur; the revitalisation of his writing; the role of New Creation Publications; his continuing teaching and activities.

Summary by Tim Leeder, edited