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

What a week! 

All week I've been surrounded by amazing Baptist leaders working so hard to see our faith communities thrive. I've seen Col 1:29 (I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me) outlived, and I have come to Friday full of thankfulness. I want to use this week's email to give you a glimpse of how blessed I have been!

Last week started with the people at the National Support Centre:

>>9am:  Alan Jamieson, Luke Kaa-Morgan and I met in regard to the National Hui at Manukau City Baptist (so good to have Arnie Hall join with us). We listen carefully for the voice of God.

>>10am: Is the weekly National Support Centre Staff meeting. Ten beautiful people crammed into my office in conversation and prayer—I love it!

>>11am: My regular meeting with Mick Duncan is postponed so I get to catch up with Kathryn to talk about my Regional Hui input.

>>1pm: The Lead Team meet together—thanks Karen, Kathryn, Luke, Mike, and Wayne for your desire to see Baptist faith communities thrive.

>>2:30: Inspiring to have a Zoom with Grant Harris—hearing from Baptist pastors is always the priority! 

>>3pm: This is my time with Luke Kaa-Morgan. We talk with excitement about the Baptist Hui-ā-Māori in July 2023 (see below).

>>4pm: I catch up with Ethan Millar. Despite the full day, his conversation made me feel youthful again!

In fact, I already look forward with anticipation to my regular meetings with Ethan (National Youth Catalyst). It is so good to have someone working alongside me who is constantly thinking about our pastors, leaders and chaplains who are working with young people. Ethan is about to head off on his first road trip—yay!! Click here to hear him talk about what’s happening.

Hamilton and South Waikato pastors' clusters

And then on Tuesday, Kathryn Heslop and I spent the day at Cambridge Baptist Church with the Hamilton and South Waikato pastors' clusters (picture with Ken Keyte, pastor—Cambridge Baptist). I paused and gave thanks to God for the 30 or so people sitting in the room who "feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood."

Retreat time

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were spent on Retreat with Kerry Brewerton (our Assembly Council Chairperson), Alan Jamison (General Director of our Arotahi) and our Regional Association Chairs, Regional Leaders, and the Lead Team from the National Support Centre. The focus was ‘Conversations for Gospel Renewal’. Oh my goodness—we talked about everything!

>>We began by turning our focus to the reason we exist—local Baptist faith communities! Wilson Street Baptist Church in Timaru gave us an amazing snapshot of their local church, their strengths, their challenges, their context. We heard their story and asked ourselves how we can best support them (and you)? And perhaps more importantly, how can we let them/you know we love them/you? 

>>We talked about how Baptist national leadership can best function together so that our local faith communities thrive. How do we fit together? What are our different roles? Who does what?

>>We asked how Baptists can stay together when it comes to working through difficult pastoral issues. What posture is needed? What type of resources might be helpful? 

>>We grappled with some of the pitfalls our ecclesiology presents us with when it comes to keeping people safe. How do we as a union of churches respond in the face of wrongdoing? 

>>We talked with our Carey academics about research that enables gospel renewal. What research might help local Baptist faith communities to thrive? 

>>With Wayne we had conversation on the continued work of trying to position our assets for Gospel renewal. 

>>Luke Kaa-Morgan talked with us about his role within Arotahi, Carey, and the Support Centre as Te Pouarataki mō te Hikoi (that's Luke talking in the photo above).

Wow! I came away inspired, encouraged and incredibly grateful—we have such great wealth amongst us.

Off to see The Way of the Raukura

On Thursday evening, as part of the Retreat, we joined with some of the Support Centre Staff and headed out to Burger Burger for dinner and then the theatre to watch The Way of the Raukura. I am so thankful for the people in the picture below who serve us so diligently. Massive congratulations to Steve Worsley (pastor - Mt Albert Baptist Church) and his team - the stage show was quite amazing. 

Baptist Hui-ā-Māori 2023

I wonder if you have seen the video clip from Te Kapa Rautaki and Te Pouarataki mō te Hikoi (Luke Kaa Morgan) extending a warm invite to all Baptist Māori to attend a Baptist Hui-ā-Māori in July 2023. I loved watching Josie, Luke, Ray, Leonnie, and Matt talking and laughing together. Thank God for Baptist Māori leadership.

Together, they write: Te Kapa Rautaki and Te Pouarataki mō te Hikoi extend a warm welcome to our Hāhi Iriiri whānau to gather together at this special hui where we will farewell the old and welcome in the new. We look forward to new opportunities and engaging with the next chapter of our Baptist Māori story. We urge you to prayerfully prioritise this hui and join us for this significant time in our Baptist movement.

Click here for more details! 

Kathryn Heslop's new column on Baptist NZ

Talking of leadership, did you see on Wednesday that my colleague Kathryn released the first of her article series on People Centred Leadership, where over the coming weeks she will write about 6 characteristics she believes are crucial for leaders today.

Kathryn writes:

And so, the leader of today needs to look different than what we often saw yesterday. We usher in an age of collaborative, people-centred leadership that values all voices, where the team works together, learning from one another, using the skills and expertise of the whole rather than the select few...

I think this will be an important series of reflections for Baptist leadership. Please take the time to read her introductory article here. 

Kupu o te wiki | Word of the week

Traditionally, kaitiaki had a guardian and stewardship role for natural resources. Whilst individuals may have had specific roles, these were all exercised in terms of a collective responsibility determined through whakapapa and tikanga.

Matawhaiaro | Personal

Kia ora Baptist whānau

I must admit, as I sit at my desk this morning, I am feeling a bit weary - it's been a big week and I'm looking forward to the weekend (Carey Baptist College graduation on Saturday!). 

But as I re-read my email (checking for spellies!) I feel my energy levels beginning to rise again. I think about all the people who I've spent time with this week, and I'm filled with enormous gratitude (Ha, I guess this is a benefit of having to put together a weekly summary of what I've been up to!).

Why don't you stop for a while today. Jot down on a piece of paper all the people you have engaged with over the past week. Note down the things you appreciate about them. Don't rush! And then give thanks to God. It's quite uplifting isn't it!? 

I want to say thank you to the many people who emailed me last week on my return from sabbatical. I am sorry I haven't had the time to respond. But please know I appreciate you taking the time to contact me. I love being Baptist! 

Thank you for all that you do. 


Karakia | Prayer

On Tuesday we wrote a prayer especially for the Hamilton and South Waikato pastors' clusters. It was such an honour to be able to present them with their own copy and pray it together. We want to extend this prayer to us all. Please join with us:

Dear Lord,

We pray for our Baptist faith communities across New Zealand, lifting them up to you at this time. 

We pray that the leaders of these churches will feel your presence with them daily as they serve you, that they would live and walk in tune with your Spirit and your guiding presence. Lord, grant them a sense of peace that can only come from you.

May they lay their burdens at your feet Lord, seeking more of your presence in their lives every day. And in so doing, I pray that they will live freely, and their burdens will be light.

We pray that they would be leaders who lead like you Jesus. That they will take a lowly posture and seek to serve their communities with love, humility and grace. Give them the ability to hold steadfastly to what is right when things get tough.

Give them the words to teach, the grace to love those they lead, and the discernment for those difficult decisions that need to be made.

Thank you that these leaders have been willing to lay down their lives to serve you Lord. Today we pray that they would know how deeply loved they are by you. That they would sense your spirit saying to them, ‘well done, my good and faithful servant’.

In your name Lord we pray,


Pikita o wiki | Photo of the week

I love this photo of me with some of our amazing women leaders who were a valuable part of our retreat last week. How awesome to have two Association Chairs, two Regional Leaders, and two National Support Centre team members represented here!

From left:

Shelley Motu'āpuaka (Chair, Northern Baptist Association)

Rachel Murray (Regional Leader, Otago & Southland)

Kathryn Heslop (EA, National Support Centre)

Reti Ah-Voa (Regional Leader, Northern)

Wendy Budge (Chair, Bay of Plenty & Eastland Baptist Association)

Catharina Siraa (Administration Advisor, National Support Centre)

Photos: Supplied by Charles Hewlett.

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