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

It has been a pretty special week for us at the National Support Centre – we had our annual two-day staff retreat. I will let our Treaty Guide explain...

Te Pouarataki mō te Hīkoi

From our Treaty Guide

The National Support Centre traced the sacred footprints of our Baptist Māori Ministry pioneers on Wednesday with some of the precious whaanau who were directly impacted by them. Their stories told of those who lived the message of Gospel renewal, Te Rongopai, in generous and non-judgmental ways. The legacy of these pioneers challenges us to prayerfully explore the opportunities for mission and ministry in the lower Waikato that remain in each of the places we visited. Oh, and we experienced some wonderful ‘God-incidents’ on the journey. Te Rongopai mā te tangata me ngā wāhi. (from Luke Kaa-Morgan)

The photo below is of the team visiting Tauranganui Marae, Port Waikato. 

The Still Life group

My week started last Monday by speaking and having lunch with the 'Still Life' group – a group of retired Baptist pastors, chaplains and overseas workers from the Northern region (see photo below). At my lunch table were Elizabeth Jones and Tom Cadman. I headed back to the office enormously encouraged and inspired to be a better leader. 

National Support Centre staff retreat

As noted above, last week we had our National Support Centre staff retreat. On Wednesday we all jumped in a van (with a few guests) and headed down the Southern Motorway to Pukekohe.

We visited Puna O Te Ora (also known as the Pukekohe Baptist Māori Mission Church Hall - an important pou or marker in the work of Baptist Māori in Aotearoa). After morning tea at Franklin Baptist Church, we visited Tahuna Marae in Waiuku, Tauranganui Marae in Port Waikato, and Te Kumi Paa/Te Kotahitanga Marae in Te Kohanga. What a privilege to trace the footprints of our Baptist Māori Ministry pioneers.

Thursday of our Retreat was the designated fun day with a bit of team building along the way. After catching the train into Britomart we caught the ferry over to Devonport to hang out together (photo below). After lunch we split into two teams and competed against each other in Escape Rooms - sadly my team lost :(

So much of our Retreat was spent talking about how we can encourage Baptist faith communities to thrive. The calling upon our lives is to serve you the best we can. Please know we love you all deeply. 

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens (Isaiah 40:26)

A seminar with the Otago Southland Baptist Association 

Baptist Finance and Operations Director Wayne Schache and Administration Advisor Catharina Siraa headed to Dunedin a couple weekends ago to present a seminar for the Otago Southland Association (photo below). 

Catharina says, "It was great to be able to connect with elders, treasurers, administrators, pastors and more down in the Otago and Southland Region. While we talked about admin, finances, and church compliance, it was a highlight to see the room get excited about associating together to share resources and expertise in these areas".  I reckon every Association should do this! 

Vision evening at Picton Baptist Church

And I loved receiving this picture of the leaders of Picton Baptist Church at their vision evening with Regional Leader Chris Chamberlain. They shared stories of the history of the church, the good future God has for them, and the needs and opportunities they see in their community that God is calling them to pursue. 

What podcasts are you listening to?

Last week I asked three Baptist gospel leaders what podcasts they were listening to at the moment. I thought you might be interested...

Dr Rachelle Martin of Ilam Baptist Church (and Assembly Council):

21 Elephants Podcast Every series is great (and produced in a NZ-context) but I have found their last series ‘Before I Go’ particularly thought-provoking and hope-filled. In this series, they explore death and dying with grace, humour, and kindness. What a gift.

The Bible for Normal People Pete Enns and Jared Byas interview lots of different people about the bible and faith. I so appreciate being able to listen to different ways of seeing and knowing – and the freshness this brings to my own engagement with scripture.

Always a Guest – a talking book by Barbara Brown Taylor. A collection of stories and sermons of faith, grace, and hope. Barbara is such a beautiful story-teller, who continually invites me towards living into God’s big story.

Everything happens for a Reason: And other lies I have loved – a talking book by Kate Bowler. This is Kate’s story, offering up her irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live. As a bowel cancer survivor, I find her theological insights (and dark humour!) incredibly helpful. 

William HC of Pakuranga Chinese Baptist Church: 

The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill A deep dive into what went wrong at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the church Mark Driscoll founded. 

Conversations with My Immigrant Parents (RNZ/NZ on Air) Although most of these conversations occur outside church walls, issues are discussed that members of our immigrant church encounter and ultimately that the gospel can offer hope for.

Through the ESV Bible in a Year by Ray Ortlund and Jackie Hill Perry. These are two podcasts with the Bible read out loud according to a reading plan. I enjoy just listening to God’s Word out loud. 

Grant Harris of Windsor Park Baptist Church:

The Working Genius Podcast with Patrick Lencioni I’ve grown a strong appreciation for The Working Genius as a tool to increase the effectiveness of team leadership. This podcast is professional development!

Tangiwai: A Forgotten History I love NZ history, and I’m always trying to learn more about how our past feeds our present and contributes to the future. 

How I Built This with Guy Raz Hearing stories from innovators helps me as a leader think about what innovative mission might look like. We need innovation in the church, and I like to get inspired to be one.

Matawhaiaro

Dear Baptist Whānau

I often tell Joanne how blessed I am to have such wonderful people working alongside me.

And it's true – the Regional Leaders, my Lead Team, my Executive Assistant, and the staff at the National Support Centre. These are the people I get to interact with on a daily basis. 

Being surrounded by my colleagues – their encouragement, their prayers, their wisdom, their expertise and experience, their professionalism, their incredible love for Jesus – makes such a huge difference to me in my role as national leader and I am so thankful to God for them. 

My prayer for you this week is that you might be surrounded by such people. Can I encourage you to develop a network of people that you trust and respect who will positively feed into your life and leadership. Why not reach out to someone who can help you do this.

I've been reminded this week how much we need one another!

Stand firm in your faith and be courageous and strong.

Charles

Karakia

This week I invited Baptist Assembly Council member Ravanetta (Maiava) Sititi to lead us in prayer. The requests of this prayer are significant – please pray it often! Ravanetta is a member of Hosanna Lighthouse Baptist Church. She works as the Court Victim advisor with Auckland district courts. Ravanetta carries the Samoan Chief title Maiava.

 Lo matou Tamā e, o i le Lagi, 

(Our Father who art in Heaven) 

Thank you for the ethnic churches you have placed in the Baptist movement. 

Thank you for the work they are doing in their spaces to bring about Gospel Renewal. 

Pour your wisdom over them as they learn to navigate through a movement that may be different to what they are traditionally or culturally used to. 

I ask that you grant them the courage to step out of their comfort zones to speak and do your work with boldness. 

Let our ethnic churches be a testament to your faithfulness and power in Aotearoa. 

I le suafa manumalo o Iesu Keriso

(In Jesus mighty name)

Amene

(Amen)

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