In this regular column, our Baptist National Leader, Charles Hewlett, keeps us posted on the happenings in Baptist faith communities across Aotearoa. The original Charles Mail is emailed out on a Friday and reproduced here the following Monday.

Kawepūrongo

On Sunday I attended the most exciting Kingdom event I have ever been to.

This is gospel renewal

It was the graduation ceremony of a ministry called STAND that operates out of Windsor Park Baptist Church. STAND was founded by, and is facilitated by, Emily Duncan (photo here is with Emily Duncan and Grant Harris – pastor Windsor Park). STAND partners with Grace Foundation, NZ's largest bail house for Māori and Pasifika.

The graduates (about 25) were predominately made up of people who have been brought up in the gangs and spent many years in prison. We were celebrating with them coming to the end of a 9-month addiction and trauma recovery programme.

I came home deeply impacted. Testimony after testimony spoke of the grace of God and his power to overcome. What a party!

Thank you, Emily, your work is quite amazing. This is Gospel renewal.

More graduations!

And what an inspiring time the Carey Baptist College graduation was on Saturday afternoon. About 90 students made up the 'Class of 2023 Graduates'.

The highlight for me was seeing two of my pastors from Eastgate Christian Centre graduate with Graduate Diplomas of Applied Theology – go Ashley and Nathan Bird! What a blessing our college is to the Baptist family of churches. Thank you, John Tucker and your team :)

I am keen to make you aware of the important thesis work of Andrew Reyngoud. Andrew graduated from Carey on Saturday with a Master of Applied Theology (with distinction).

His thesis is entitled New Zealand Baptist churches in a time of change (1989-2019): an analysis of the changes and variations in demographics and their implication.

Download it at this link

Before pastoring, Andrew had a career in engineering and science, and he puts those skills together alongside his love for the church and its future.

Andrew’s thesis gives us a very clear snapshot of the 30-year period up to 2019 using our own stats data alongside NZ census data. He situates these 3 decades within the wider history of New Zealand Baptists and demographic change in New Zealand. Andrew’s research details some significant challenges many of us are experiencing every day in our own contexts.

Andrew talks about it here

This research will help us make sense of demographic change in our churches and country. I look forward to recording a conversation with Andrew about this soon, in particular how it might help us plan and prioritise the work we do locally, regionally, and nationally in the task of Gospel Renewal to people and places.

One massive thing that stands out for me in particular, and that hooks so well into the decisions we made in the 2022 National Hui in Bethlehem, is around the future of BYM and our strategies for youth ministry: Andrew’s thesis predicts if we don’t do things differently, in 10 years, 40% of people in Baptist churches could be 65 years or older. In my view, this highlights the need to be radical now with our youth ministry plans.

Catching up with the Baptist National Leader of Australia

On Monday morning I had an online catch up meeting with Mark Wilson - Baptist National Leader Australia. Mark, who is based in Perth, has been a real friend to me. 

We mostly encouraged one another in our leadership (many of the challenges we face are similar). We talked together about three upcoming Baptist events:

The Baptist World Alliance annual gathering in Nigeria (7-12 July)

The Trans-Pacific Baptist Leaders gathering in Darwin (19-22 August)

The 23rd Baptist World Congress in Brisbane (7-12 July 2025). Let’s get as many New Zealand Baptists as possible to this one! Click here for more details and here for an invitation from Mark.

What are your experiences of power and authority in the church?

Christa McKirland, lecturer at Carey Baptist College, is working on a book about power and authority in the local church. She'd like to include real-life experiences, so if you can contribute, click the link below to fill out her survey. It should only take 5–10 minutes. All survey responses will be kept anonymous.

Click here to do the survey

Te Pouarataki mō te Hīkoi

What a privilege to see Daniel Chadfield celebrate the culmination of a significant season of dedication, resilience and the pursuit of biblical and theological knowledge. Adorned in cap, gown and a beautiful korowai, Dan was one of the Carey Baptist College graduates of 2024 who, this past weekend, crossed the stage at Carey's graduation having achieved a Bachelor of Applied Theology. To take this photo, I had to compete with his very proud whaanau who were thrilled to be part of this moment with him. Nō reira e te whakaihuwaka, teena koe i aau mahi pai.

Mauri ora. (from Luke Kaa-Morgan)

Karakia

We are a collective of faith communities bringing gospel renewal to people and places in our local neighbourhoods. It is my longing that God would use us to bring such transformation. Please pray with me that Christ's mighty power would continue to work within the Baptist family of churches in New Zealand. 

Dear God

The Baptist Union of New Zealand is completely dependent upon you for all things. You are the one in whom we trust, and today we acknowledge that we need your help.

We long to see your Kingdom come in greater ways within our nation.

In your goodness and graciousness please use our efforts to bring good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoner, recovery of sight for the blind, and freedom for those who are oppressed.

Provide us with a fresh confidence in the message we proclaim – the gospel – the very power of God to bring salvation. Help us to be bold, to step outside our comfort zones, to be seen with the marginalised in our neighbourhoods, to have a healthy dissatisfaction for the status quo, and prepared to challenge the injustice around us.

Oh Lord, may people come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour for the very first time because of our efforts this week.

We ask these things in the name of Jesus

Amen

Matawhaiaro

Kai ora Baptist Whānau

I have just been in Owaka for the Otago & Southland Baptist Association Regional Hui.

I love attending the Regional Hui. Have you enrolled in the one for your region? 

Lower North Association – June 14-15

Bay of Plenty & Eastland and Waikato Associations – June 19-20

Upper South Association – June 23-25

Northern Association – July 25-27

The Hui have become an important part of our calendar in associating together for the purpose of encouraging gospel renewal regionally (I love how each hui has its own local flavour). They are designed to be a time of unity, support, and encouragement. We need your input as we strive to be a movement of churches bringing glory to God. 

Do let me know if there is anything hindering you being able to attend. I would love to work with your Regional Leader in trying to get you there.

Thank you for all that you do – may God continue to bless you heaps.

Charles

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