Sydney, Australia—Rev. Melissa Lipsett—a leader known for her global vision, personal integrity and pastoral gifts—has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, the sixth head of Baptist World Aid Australia since it began in 1959.
The organisation’s Board of Directors agreed unanimously to appoint Melissa—who has been serving as Acting CEO since June 2021—after a consultative recruitment process and a period of prayer and discernment, effective November 1, 2021. The Australian Baptist Ministries has also endorsed the Board’s appointment.
‘It is clear that Melissa feels deeply called not only to Baptist World Aid but also to the most marginalised,’ said Tara Reid, Chair of Transform Aid International’s Board of Directors who oversees Baptist World Aid. ‘She is committed to international aid and development and has been an outstanding leader already over the past eight months, building strong relationships with the executive team, staff, volunteers and supporters. I have no doubt that she will continue to move us forward as we seek to end poverty and make a better world for all.’
Melissa began her service at Baptist World Aid in February 2021 as the Chief Operating Officer and Director of Missional Impact. Prior to joining Baptist World Aid, Melissa served as Chief Operating Officer at Bible Society Australia and was instrumental in the growth of its global and missional reach over five years. Before that she was Executive Pastor of Newlife Church in Queensland, a community she served for nearly 20 years.
‘It’s an incredible privilege serving those Jesus has always prioritised: people on the margins,’ she said. ‘I am both humbled and honoured to join in this work and to witness the incredible generosity of God’s people in their support of our mission. It is my prayer that we will continue to serve as the hearts and hands of the Australian Baptist movement in the places of the world where the need and vulnerability is the greatest.’
I am both humbled and honoured to join in this work and to witness the incredible generosity of God’s people in their support of our mission.
Originally from country Victoria, Melissa’s leadership journey began when she joined the Royal Australian Navy at age 17. At 20, a Navy Chaplain introduced her to the Bible and she chose to follow Jesus. Subsequent to her Naval career, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Bachelor of Ministry and served in pastoral ministry before moving to Sydney to work with Bible Society Australia.
Her extensive global leadership experiences include mission and ministry in Asia (China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand), Eastern Europe (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Central and South America, and Africa. She is at home in cross-cultural experiences and holds a deep appreciation and respect for working alongside First Nations people.
Melissa sees the holistic approach of Baptist World Aid’s work as an integral response to Christ’s call to ‘the least of these’ (in Matthew 25:40). From its Child Sponsorship and community development programs to disaster relief efforts, advocacy and church partnerships, she believes each provide practical opportunities for Christ’s representatives to care for the whole person. That’s why Baptist World Aid works with 38 local Christian partners through 73 projects in 18 countries to bring lasting change and build long term relationships.
‘Because both need and vulnerability continue to grow exponentially, particularly in our COVID-affected world, I believe we’re in a strategic position to narrow our focus so our impact can be greatest,’ she said. ‘Women and children who bear the brunt of the widening inequality and economic dignity gap, and in countries that are most affected by economic challenge, climate and environmental crises—all represent both the brokenness of the world and the opportunity God invites us to address.’
With a lifelong commitment to helping people know and reflect the love of Jesus, Melissa brings a lived wisdom and passion to her new role. She has long been committed to—and known for—excellence and integrity in her public speaking, leadership, advocacy, pastoral and practical theology, and has played active roles in governance across the Church and other Christian organisations.
‘Not one of us can change the world alone, but together we can. That’s why I am incredibly excited by Baptist World Aid’s vision to end poverty,’ she said. ‘A better world for all is in our hands. I’ve always understood this to be an important part of my faith – that it’s not just about me and following Jesus for my own sake, but about being called to serve and make a difference in the world. And we can all do that. We are God’s plan A. He doesn’t have another.’
‘At Baptist World Aid we work together with local Christian Partners in challenging injustice and supporting vulnerable communities to flourish,’ Melissa said.
‘This work matters, and at this stage in my life, I want to make a long-term contribution, concentrating on what matters. My missional heartbeat is aligned with Baptist World Aid’s and I feel grateful to the Board for their trust in me to lead this incredible work at this time.’
Melissa and her husband Peter have been married for 38 years and live and worship in Sydney. They have two adult children Jess, a director of Corney and Lind Lawyers, and Brad, a professional musician.
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To read what more are saying about the CEO of Baptist World Aid Australia, please download the full endorsement document.
-Rev. Tim Costello, Executive Director, Micah Australia
-Rev. Mark Wilson, National Ministries Director, Australian Baptist Ministries
-Clare Steele, CEO, Compassion Australia
Melissa Lipsett in the Advocate
Melissa Lipsett in Propel Women
Melissa Lipsett on The Blunder Bus podcast
Baptist World Aid Australia is blessed to have a dedicated team of employees and volunteers working tirelessly toward a world without poverty, where all people experience the fullness of life God intends.