Otago & Southland Baptist Association

An update from Regional Leader Rachel Murray for 2023.

The purpose of the Association is ‘to grow the Kingdom of God in the region, to strengthen our churches and fellowships and cultivate mutual support and co- operation among them.’ To support this, a ‘Roadmap’ was developed two years ago, and the below outlines some key developments through this over the last year.

Operational

Thanks to the work of our treasurer, investments were restructured to strengthen our overall financial management, which has enabled more appropriate planning for current and future work.

Resourcing and Equipping

Regional Hui in May was a highlight, with attendance almost doubled from previous years. It is always a good time to gather together, and the food was pretty amazing too! It’s a joy to see relationships strengthen and new attendees expand their understanding and their networks for support. A regional women’s gathering in March was a hit, with over 100 present, which resulted in an appeal for an annual event. Several churches have benefited from the willingness of other churches and individuals to be available for preaching where and when needed. Our new projects and property policy supported a handful of churches to further minor property development or ministry outreach. We’ve additionally been able to support major property development for three churches.

Education

The inaugural year of our scholarship policy assisted five individuals in undertaking biblical/ theological training. This included one student beginning pastoral leadership training through Carey Baptist College by distance. It’s also been a privilege to partner with Scripture Union/Southern Presbyterians/Southern Anglicans in supporting youth and children’s ministry training.

Ministry and Mission

At the 2022 AGM, the region agreed to explore new ministry development, focusing on Christian student accommodation in Dunedin and new church development in Central Otago. Whilst the student accommodation possibility is slower moving, a recommendation on church development in Central Otago will be presented at our 2023 AGM in mid-October. It’s exciting to see the steps that have been taken and the anticipation of what is to come.

More generally

Many churches are juggling decreased giving, whether through reduced attendance or economic pressure. The continued use of live- streamed or recorded services has been retained by some and ceased by others. Several churches have expanded outreach and care in and of their wider community, including food security support, children’s holiday programmes, Alpha courses, mental health programmes, and more. Baptisms still feature regularly throughout the region.

Further opportunities exist, so we look forward to the next year and how God may continue to direct ministry and Kingdom growth in the Deep South.


Photo: Supplied by Rachel Murray

This update is from the 2023 Annual Report of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand, which you can view here.

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