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 | News

Since last Friday's email I have attended two of our Regional Hui – Otago & Southland in Alexandra, and then Upper South at Glenroy Lodge (60 minutes inland from Christchurch).

Firstly, what a stunning country we live in - I have loved the traveling! Second, what strong numbers in attendance – thank you so much! Third, God definitely turned up – there were so many highlights!

A big highlight for me of the Otago& Southland Hui was seeing the churches unite together around a church planting initiative in Central Otago. It’s early days, but they have discerned Christ together, have allocated resource, and are actively exploring options before them. Associating at its best!

In the four photos below there is a powerful snapshot of many our Baptist 'places' across the Otago & Southland region, the Alexandra Baptist Church worship team leading us, a group shot - Baptists love being together! And there is a picture of myself and Craig Ashby - thanks Craig and your team for the incredible way you hosted us last week.

A big highlight for me of the Upper South Hui was the induction of Chris Chamberlain to the Regional Leader role. Chris spoke with such passion, calling us back to the Baptist DNA of being brave and courageous and radical. And we won’t forget the presentation from Ni Kung and Vaan from Chin Glory Evangelical Church in Nelson – deeply moving and deeply challenging.

In the four photos below Chris Chamberlain is being 'prayed in' as Regional Leader of the Upper South region, we loved hearing from Ni Kung and Vaan, there is a group shot during Arotahi's session, and the wonderful Mike Dodge who graciously served us throughout the two days.

I was saddened this week to hear the news of the passing of Martyn Norrie – a person who played a huge mentoring role in my life over the past 20 years.

He was part of the Carey Baptist College Board throughout all my years at Carey. In fact, he was the one who took me to The Larder Café in Newmarket and encouraged me to apply for the Carey principal role. We then continued to meet for breakfast every couple of months. His friendship, wisdom, and encouragement gave me a tremendous amount of courage as a leader – ha, he was always pushing me in a Joshua 1:9 sort of way. We co-taught a leadership class at Carey, and he gave me the privilege of contributing to his wonderful book Good Governance.

I am so thankful to God for Martyn Norrie. What an incredible life lived for Jesus and the Kingdom of God. What an incredible gift to the Baptist family of churches. My thoughts and prayers are very much with Marg and the family.

Have you downloaded the Baptist App yet? Have you encouraged your people to download the App?

This week Mike Crudge (Communications Director) showed me this photo:

Mike writes, “Something happening slowly in the background is the development and strengthening of the communications platform for our ‘Team of 40,000 Baptists’: our website, the Baptist NZ app, bi-monthly printable PDF newsletters, and what we share on Facebook and Instagram.

In the past we had an Editor of the Baptist magazine. Last week was the inaugural meeting of what we’re calling the Editorial Advisory Group (the photo above). This is a group that will oversee the content on our Baptist NZ platform ensuring it’s fulfilling the objectives of our union together. Isn’t this a great looking group?!"

Click here to see more about each of the members, what the purposes of the group are, and the parameters that lead to the significant diversity within this group. I am excited about the future.

I continue to hassle Ethan Miller (our Youth Catalyst) for photos from his South Island road trip (the photos below are of him catching up with youth pastors and leaders from Christchurch). I give thanks to God - Ethan is working hard to bring gospel renewal to Baptist Youth Ministries.

Contact Ethan on [email protected]

Talking of youth, can you to please being praying for KB23 over this long weekend (2-4 June). 

Heather Ameye-Bevers (Camp Director) writes:

"370+ North Island Youth Leaders are gathering for the long weekend to train together at Keswick Camp, Rotorua. The words that have been gifted are Te Ahi Kā. It means “Keepers of the Fire” and in te ao Maori, when you keep the fires burning for generations, you have a claim to the land. Our heart for this time is to help our leaders understand the gospel claim in their own lives and that of their rangitahi and to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit alive across the generations." 

May God bless you heaps Heather - thank you for all the hard work of you and your team. 

Note 'Southern Youth Leaders Training' is 16-18 June – we look forward to hearing more about this soon.

Kupu o te wiki | Word of the week

Karakia | Prayer

Last week I asked you to pray for the Otago & Southland Association. This week I have invited Paul Askin (retired Baptist leader) to lead us in praying for the Upper South Association. Please do take the time to sit down and pray for the faith communities and leadership that make up this region. May God use them to bring Gospel renewal! 

Dear Lord, 

E to matou Matua I te rangi, we come to you in gratitude and thanksgiving.

Thank you for this land, known as the Upper South Island, which we call home. We marvel at the grandeur and beauty you imbued it with, the plains, mountains, rivers, bush and seascape. We so need your guidance as we seek to be wise stewards in it.

Thank you for the people who courageously first brought the gospel here, Tamihana Te Rauparaha, Te Whiwhi and others, and for Decimus Dolamore who, in Nelson, led the first Baptist church in this country. Now we thank you for all the Baptist churches, fellowships, ministries and chaplains, active in this region.

Thank you too for our leaders, regional and local, as they serve among all your saints here.

In this week after Pentecost may your Spirit bubble up afresh among us. May we celebrate confidence in the gospel, because it is your power that brings salvation to everyone that believes.

Free us from the pressure to perform we pray. In our everyday lives may your beauty naturally and winsomely shine through. In all our diversity, may the quality of your life which binds us together in love as your apprentices, jar watching people out of complacency. Seeing you in us, may they too consider choosing your whole new way of living.

Bless us we ask with courage and a spirit of adventure as we seek to follow you into whatever the future may hold.

Thank you that as we bring our prayers and ourselves to you, we are so glad you welcome us, you know and love us, and it is your desire to work out your good purposes in us and through us.

In your name Lord we pray.


Matawhaiaro | Personal

Kia ora Baptist Whānau 

What a week it has been! 

I have absolutely loved the first two Regional Hui. The Baptist Associations in the South Island are very alive and well, and they are being so ably led by the Executives and Regional Leaders. God is so good. 

Perhaps the most encouraging thing for me to observe so far has been our elders, pastors, chaplains and administrators’ commitment to Jesus and being servant leaders. At both Hui I have had the opportunity to present, with my team, a progress update on our 15 strategic priorities. Both regions made it very clear to me that Priority 1 and Priority 8 were the most important to them, and that much of my time should be focused on these.  

Priority 1: We are talking more about Jesus and the renewal that his gospel brings 

Priority 8: We have a leadership that is increasingly being marked out by the posture of Ephesians 4:1-2 

I love the fact that these are so important to New Zealand Baptists. And I know that our faith communities are increasingly being marked out by these things.  

In this regard, I wonder if you have been reading Kathryn Heslop’s articles on people-centred leadership. I read a couple of them this week and they are helping me to appreciate something of the attitude Ephesians 4 describes as a life worthy of our calling. 

Here’s a couple of sentences from People centred leadership: Attuned

“Being attuned to another means that we can truly empathise with that person. We see them, we tune into their emotions, we seek to understand how they might be feeling in that moment. Consider the time a leader cleared their diary, invited me for a walk, and asked me how I was when they knew life in that moment was tough. Or when they wrote an encouraging card and brought a gift for my children because of the hard work their mum had been doing. Or when they backed my ideas during that meeting in which my confidence was fading.”. 

Here’s a couple of sentences from People centred leadership: Responsive

“Are they struggling with a heavy workload? Work out a way to spread the load across the team. Did they receive a complaint that rattled them? Take them out for coffee. Is someone close to them dying? Give them flexibility during those difficult weeks. Does it take them an hour to drive to work? Allow them to work remotely one day each week. Is it a difficult anniversary? Pause, pray for them, and acknowledge this challenging day.” 

Do take time to read the full articles – they are very helpful.

Thank you for all that you do. May God continue to bless you heaps in your leadership.


Photos: supplied by Charles Hewlett.

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