A Baptist with a shiny new OAM goes to work for the Uniting Church: Graham Joseph Hill

Graham Joseph hill

The Other Cheek interviews Graham Joseph Hill who recieved an OAM on the King’s Birthday honours list for:”service to theological education, and to the Baptist Churches of Australia.” But now he’s providing his services to the Uniting Church…

1. Graham you recently got an OAM for “service to theological education and to the Baptist Churches of Australia.” But you have hopped across to a different denomination. tell us what you are up to now? 

I’ve been an ordained and accredited Baptist pastor since 2000 and continue to be accredited with the Australian Baptists. My Baptist roles have included pastoring, denominational leadership, and teaching and leading in theological colleges. 

I was surprised and thrilled to receive the OAM for “service to theological education and the Baptist Churches of Australia.” I’ve been in some form of theological education since 1999, including lecturing at two Baptist theological colleges and serving as the Vice-Principal and Provost at Morling Baptist Theological College. I also served as the Director of Research and Principal of Stirling Theological College and an Associate Professor at the University of Divinity, taught in theological colleges across the Asia-Pacific, and am serving as a Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. 

The Uniting Church in NSW/ACT has employed me to facilitate their church planting initiative, but I continue to be an accredited minister with the Baptist Churches NSW/ACT.

2. After serving in theological education in several colleges how healthy is that sector? do you agree with the often-expressed view that Australia has too many theological colleges? 

The Australian theological educator sector is healthy. It’s remarkable that such a small country as ours, with such a small Christian population, manages to offer many vibrant, innovative, cutting-edge, scholarly theological colleges among many Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, Protestant, Pentecostal, and other groups. Australian theological colleges punch well above their weight globally in scholarship and innovation, which we should celebrate and be proud of. Denominations and churches should get behind their theological colleges because they are some of the world’s best.

Theological colleges in Australia are shrinking in size as the Christian population in Australia declines. Many are closing or merging. I think we’ve had too many theological colleges in Australia, and merging colleges is a good thing. The Churches of Christ college where I was Principal (Stirling Theological College) was a national college, and it merged with the other national Churches of Christ college, called the Australian College of Ministries. That was excellent, as a denomination the size of Churches of Christ in Australia doesn’t need two national colleges. I see some of the Baptist colleges in Australia merging, too, and I think that’s a good thing. I suspect the same may happen among the colleges of other denominations. Merging makes sense, as we’ve had too many colleges competing for the same students, and combining college resources, expertise, faculties, etc., makes sense economically, spiritually, and for the sake of the kingdom of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

3. You are a prolific author – do you have a favourite among the many books you have written? 

This is a tricky question. I’ve published 15 theological books. Four books are incredibly precious to me. First, “Salt, Light, and a City” because it was my first theological publication and received international acclaim. Second, “Holding Up Half the Sky” because it articulates my passionate biblical egalitarianism. Third, “World Christianity: An Introduction” helped establish my reputation as a global leader in the field of World Christianity (whether that reputation is deserved can be determined by others) and has been used by theological seminaries around the globe. Fourth, “Healing Our Broken Humanity” because I wrote it with one of my best friends, Grace Ji-Sun Kim. 

“Healing Our Broken Humanity:  Practices for Revitalizing the Church and Renewing the World” would be my favourite – https://amzn.asia/d/0bvthp1A. For my co-author Grace Ji-Sun Kim and I, it’s our vision for renewing the church and changing society, and it continues to be a global bestseller. Theological Colleges and churches worldwide are using the book, and we get countless letters from people saying it changed their lives. That’s very encouraging for writers. Grace Ji-Sun Kim and I are currently writing a second book together, on following and reflecting the spirituality of Jesus Christ.

4. You track trends in world Christianity – what excites you the most? 

The shift of the centre of gravity of world Christianity from the West to the South and East. This is a seismic shift in global religion. These churches in the Majority World (Asia, Africa, Latin America, etc.) are finding creative and courageous ways to combine their passion for God’s Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and holistic mission (by holistic or “integral” mission, I mean integrating these things: gospel proclamation, disciple-making, community service, justice, peacemaking, creation care, incarnational living, and transforming engagement with society). I’m a missiologist, so seeing how Christians worldwide combine Word, Spirit, and integral mission is thrilling.

5. What does a “Misson Catalyst for Church Planting and Mission Renewal” do and how can you tell if you are doing it well

I facilitate church planting among the Uniting Churches in NSW/ACT. The goal is to plant five churches in strategic areas of NSW and the ACT by early 2026. Reaching that goal will tell me if we’re doing well. I’ve been incredibly encouraged by what God is doing. So far, we are on track to plant at least five churches by early 2026, and probably six. I’ve always believed that when we step out in faith and trust God (believing in the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit), God does things among us that far exceed our hopes, dreams, and expectations. We serve a God much larger than us, doing something more incredible in history, church, and society than we could ever imagine. That confidence that Christ and his Spirit are with us and moving in mighty ways keeps me full of joy, hope, and passion.

Amended to refer to “some” of the Baptist colleges merging