About Refocus

A Conference for Pastoral Leaders

Refocus is a new conference about pastoral leadership. We aim to serve pastoral leaders (ministers and elders) and their wives, and those training for pastoral leadership (students and apprentices), especially in Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Each year we focus on one of the four sections of our comprehensive theological vision for the Presbyterian Church of Australia in NSW:

Churches centred on the gospel of Christ;
  • Churches made up of Christians trusting in Christ and living for God’s glory;
  • Churches led by teams of Shepherds and Servants; and
  • Churches working together in gospel-centred mission
  • It is our hope that Refocus will leave you:
  • Inspired by our distinctive theological vision for our churches.
  • Encouraged by real stories of effective leadership and positive change from our churches.
  • Refreshed by a new space for engaging conversation, deepening friendships and professional development with other pastoral leaders.

Refocus 2017 (8:30 To 5pm Monday 3 July At Christ College)

This year our theme is healthy leadership teams. We’ve got an exciting program that includes:
  • A keynote address on “A biblical vision for pastoral leadership teams” by Murray Smith, lecturer in Biblical Studies at Christ College and Elder of Hornsby Presbyterian Church
  • Team presentations on leadership and change from Springwood/Winmalee, Young, Charlestown and Albury Presbyterian Churches
  • Innovation Lab to promote skills development and much more!
You can download copies of the Theological Vision, the Case for Change, and conference talks from past conferences in the Conference Downloads section.

Refocus Program

8:30 – Registration and coffee
9:00 – Worship in Song
9:15 – Welcome
9:20 – Moderator’s Address
9:30 – Keynote presentation, “A biblical vision for pastoral leadership teams”– Murray Smith
10:30 – Morning Tea
11:00 – Case study 1 – Springwood/Winmalee Presbyterian Church
11:45 – Case study 2 – Young Presbyterian Church
12:30 – Lunch
1:30 – Launch of the Centre for Pastoral Leadership
1:50 – Worship in Song
2:00 – Case study 3 – Charlestown Presbyterian Church
2:45 – Case study 4 – Albury Presbyterian Church
3:30 – Afternoon tea
4:00 – Innovation Lab – facilitated by Duncan Anderson


Bookings are essential and numbers are strictly limited (last year we sold out all our tickets). Registration is due by 5pm Friday 16 June. Costs (including morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea) are as follows:

Pastoral leaders/wives $55 each.
Students $40 each.

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To find more information about each speaker, click on the highlighted names below:

Murray Smith (Keynote Presentation)

About Murray Smith


Murray is married to Lynette and they have five kids from high school to preschool.

Murray is a lecturer in Biblical Studies at Christ College, an Elder of Hornsby Presbyterian Church and takes responsibility for “Gospel Training” (Christian education programme).

What he enjoys and values about his pastoral leadership team is working together with brothers whom he loves and respects, and seeing the way God works through their different gifts and passions to build his kingdom.

Over the last year he is thankful for the body of Christ working together as each part does its work.

At the conference he is looking forward to sharing the biblical vision for teams of elders working together to love, teach, pray for and lead God’s people in their gospel-centred mission.

Rod Thompson & Paul Creelman (Springwood Presbyterian Church)

About Rod Thompson


Rod is married to Rosanne and they have four grown children and six grandchildren.

Rod’s role involves primarily preaching, overseeing their leadership training, strategising, and pastoring within one of the three congregations.

He enjoys and values his pastoral leadership team because they are faithful, hard working people who love the Lord and love the church. They have persevered through hard times and come out the other end with joy and strong character.

Over the last year he has been thankful for his church’s willingness to listen to God and then make changes in response to what the Lord has been saying through the Scriptures.

At the conference he is looking forward to sharing their view of leadership which is very intentional, where training is required, and accountability is the norm.

About Paul Creelman

Paul is married to Debbie and they have three children, the last of whom is in high school.

Paul is the Session Clerk for the Springwood Pastoral Charge and is part of the Winmalee congregation.

He enjoys and values his pastoral leadership team because it is filled with godly men of diverse character which gives them different views to consider on the matters before them. They have been encoruaged by the work of the Lord in their congreations, specificially in the last 12-18 months with people getting behind some of the changes and bringing people forward who are willing to move into leadership roles.

Over the last year he has been thankful for the direction his church has been looking at with the introduction of the Elders/Deacon/Manager structure. Clear direction for each of the congregations has given everyone encouragement to be part of the forward planning of the congregation they are involved with and the Charge as a whole.

At the conference he is hoping to encourage others to look at the structures in their own churches and see that there are options that may be more suitable, while working within the Code. As a denomination we are rigid in our structure and while this may not be a bad thing in many respects, looking/reviewing how the leadership structure is set up within a Charge may open up ways to better serve our Lord in the way our talents are utlilised.

Tim Ravenhall & Geoff Davis (Young Presbyterian Church)

About Tim Ravenhall


Tim is married to Susan and they have three kids at primary school and preschool.

Tim is the elder who is paid, so he takes the lion’s share of the preaching load. He also does more visiting, more training, and more of the teacher/pastoring roles that involve evangelism (Youth Group and chatting with people at their church’s community kitchen). He enjoys the big picture about church, but often finds himself doing the detail, programming for Youth Group, writing Bible studies, selling property, and overseeing the Committee of Management.

He enjoys and values his pastoral leadership team because they believe God has an agenda for this world, to redeem what is enslaved, to find what is lost, and to transform the redeemed and those who are found. He loves that on the whole they want to see people know Jesus and grow to be like him.

Over the last year he has been thankful that God is keeping his church focused on Jesus and growing in their knowledge and love for him. He is thankful for a core of people willing to fight for the right to speak about Jesus in the various ministries they do. He’s also thankful for the initiative of some of his church family in starting a community kitchen and their desire to see this ministry aligned to God’s plans.

At the conference he is looking forward to sharing how God has blessed his church even though they’ve made dumb mistakes and have more often than not felt stretched beyond their capacity. He also wants to affirm that it is worthwhile never placing someone in a position of oversight if they are not clearly able to teach along with all the other biblical qualifies of eldership.

About Geoff Davis

Geoff is married to Vivienne and they have four kids, two at school and two still at home.

Geoff is an elder who leads a small group, preaches occasionally, leads at the Sunday gathering, plays guitar in the music team, and prays a bit.

He enjoys and values his pastoral leadership team because they are a diverse group, though small (there are only four of them). They bring different experiences, views and gifts to the group. This means butting heads sometimes but in a loving way.  They are united in their mission to make disciples for Christ and glorify him.

Over the last year he has been thankful more people have been stepping up and beginning to serve in various ways. This is starting to build some positive momentum in their service of King Jesus. 

At the conference he is looking forward to sharing that although leading a church is hard work and we bumble along, Christ is a good master (it his church after all). Also, that eldership is a biblical model of leadership that is good for longevity in the church.

Stephen Taylor & Joanna Barlow (Charlestown Presbyterian Church)

About Stephen Taylor


Stephen is married to Kaylene and they have two sons and a daughter of high school age.

Stephen has been the senior pastor at Charlestown Eastlakes Presbyterian Church (which includes Charlestown and Swansea) since January 2015, having previously been at Tweed Heads for 21 years.

He enjoys and values his pastoral leadership team because he has found working with other committed Christian leaders brings out the best in him (and also hides his many weaknesses!).

Over the last year he has especially enjoyed thinking through how God’s mission and evangelism should be the centre of everything we do as a Church.

At the conference he is looking forward to exploring how women and men can collaborate effectively together to further the work of the Church and the kingdom. He does want to stress that this is currently a work in progress at Charlestown!

About Joanna Barlow

Jo is married to Malcolm and they have two adult sons.

Jo is the director of music at Charlestown and is a pastoral care worker for the church. She is a psychiatrist by trade and teaches a Bible Study Fellowship women’s class.

At Charlestown she feels that she and other women in leadership are valued and acknowledged by the leadership team, and given opportunities to share their experience and use their gifts.

At the conference she is looking forward to sharing ideas about how to encourage women to develop their leadership skills within a Biblical framework, and learning from others as to how they are going about it.

Paul Sheely & Keith Wiencke (Albury Presbyterian Church)

About Paul Sheely


Paul is married to Margie and they have five children, one son-in-law, one grandson and one dog.

Paul is one of the pastors of Albury Presbyterian churches. Paul pastors fresh start church (planted 2016) and nightchurch (planted 2010).

Paul enjoys and values his pastoral leadership team for their unity through diversity and their shared passion to see God’s kingdom grown in Albury and beyond.

Over the last year he has been thankful for the number of people who have been saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

At the conference Paul is looking forward to sharing some encouraging stories of gospel growth.

About Keith Wiencke

Keith is married to Debbie and has four children and three grandchildren.

Keith is an elder and the treasurer of Albury Presbyterian churches and is currently making the most of an early retirement by completing an MTS apprenticeship.

He enjoys and values his pastoral leadership team because of the priority of the gospel of Jesus, and their commitment to leadership through discipleship.

Over the last year he is thankful that people are growing in their willingness to get involved and contribute, that they are interested in reading the bible, and are encouraging each other in their walk with the Lord.

At the conference he is looking forward to sharing with us that God is faithful and will grow his people and his church. Knowing this, we set our goals and vision in expectation that he will provide the opportunities and resources.

Duncan Anderson (Innovation Lab)

About Duncan Anderson


Duncan is married to Jo and they have five kids ranging in ages from 1 to 11.

Duncan is the minister of Gateway Presbyterian Church Anna Bay.

He enjoys and values his Pastoral leadership team because of the encouragement of working together for a common purpose so that more people can truly know what it means to have Jesus as Lord.

Over the last year he is thankful for the way God fills needs and answers prayer (virtually never how we expect!)

At the conference he is looking forward to spending time with and hopefully encouraging church leaders from all over the state who he knows share the unique challenges and joys of local church ministry that he does. He’s also really looking forward to hearing from a wide range of rural and metropolitan ministers and elders and learning and being encouraged from their stories.

Duncan Anderson will bring his cavalier sense of humour to the facilitation of a new space for professional development: Innovation Lab. We’ll have an opportunity to engage with three innovative proposals that transformed the people and churches they were tested in. You’ll have no more excuses after participating in this session.

Contributors to this Conference

This conference was made possible by the generous contributions of a number of individuals:

  • The conference speakers
  • The conference organisers Jonathan Pratt, Kevin Murray, Sheryl Sarkoezy, Duncan Anderson, David Hayes, Elliot Ku and Angus Gibb
  • Christ College staff, especially Ian Smith, Allister Lum Mow, Caron Balzer and Susan Finlay
  • Ministry and Mission staff, especially Bruce Meller

Where is Christ College?

1 Clarence St Burwood NSW

Parking and transport: Limited 2 hour ticketed parking is available in the surrounding streets. Free unlimited parking can be found a few blocks from the college. Please do not park at Burwood RSL Club as Club parking is for Club patrons only.

Burwood Train Station is about a 7 minute walk from the college.