There were plenty of highlights for Charles and Joanne Hewlett on Day Two of the Baptist World Alliance conference in Norway.

Firstly, Charles spoke with excitement about having the opportunity to talk with Elijah Brown - BWA General Secretary (see photo below). Charles comments, “Elijah was extremely interested in us New Zealand Baptists. He expressed a strong desire to visit us and we are talking together on how to make this happen (soon). I would love you to meet him – very contagious when it comes to the gospel and mission!”

Second, Charles loved the opportunity to participate in a small group session with the National Leaders from Austria, Romania, Ghana, United States, the UK, Italy, Palestine, and Australia (see photo below).

Charles comments, “We talked together for 90-minutes on what might be our biggest challenges over the next 5-years. Despite the differences in our group, it was amazing how similar our answers were. Everyone shared about the shortage of pastors for the future (well except Ghana – they have too many people wanting to train!). We talked about practical ways we might turn this around. What a privilege to be part of this group.”

Thirdly, Joanne participated in a special BWA Women’s session (picture below are the regional BWA Women leaders). Joanne comments, “The session was an opportunity to hear about how God is at work in the seven Baptist Women’s continental unions. Major themes included prayer, the encouragement of one another, and meeting the very practical needs of women in their localities. The passion and commitment of these women was inspiring.”

Finally, how awesome to see the Baptist Churches of New Zealand being mentioned twice in the proposed Resolution on Dignity and Justice for Indigenous Peoples (see the photo below). Charles comments, “Elijah specifically mentioned to me the important role Matt and Rachel Renata played in seeing this Resolution being established and voted on. Matt and Rachel represented us at the BWA last year.”  Scroll to the end below to read the full Resolution.

Charles writes, “The enormity of the BWA is overwhelming at times – but what a privilege for Joanne and I to be here. We have been inspired in our calling: 

  • to know how mighty and powerful our God is
  • to focus our eyes firmly on Jesus
  • to have confidence in the Gospel’s ability to bring renewal
  • to have big Kingdom dreams (like the South American Baptists who aim to plant 5000 churches in 5 years!)
  • to be thankful people, thinking about, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy.”

May these things mark out New Zealand Baptists.

Proposed BWA General Council Resolution 2023.1

Dignity and Justice for Indigenous Peoples

The Baptist World Alliance General Council, meeting in Stavanger, Norway, July 2-5, 2023:

ACKNOWLEDGES the Sámi people of the Sápmi region, some of which overlaps with the modern nation in which we gather.

CELEBRATES the rich diversity of humans made in the image of God around the world, as seen in every nation, tribe, people, and language.

CONDEMNS centuries of mistreatment of Indigenous peoples around the world, especially the genocide and settler colonialism that decimated entire communities and cultures. Additionally, we denounce the seizure of land, treaty violations, forced migration, segregation, employment and religious discrimination, mistreatment by law officials, contamination of vital natural resources, and other injustices to which Indigenous peoples have been and are subjected.

REPUDIATES the “Doctrine of Discovery” and any theological interpretation by Christians to justify the abuse, enslavement, and slaughter of Indigenous peoples.1 Such efforts to bless the dehumanizing of people and the theft of their lands are fundamentally in opposition to the gospel of Jesus.

RECOGNIZES that despite the growing community of Christians renouncing such theology, the principles from the Doctrine of Discovery remain embedded in some national laws, societal attitudes toward Indigenous peoples, and even in some Christian resources.

LAMENTS that some Baptists and other Christians participated in the injustices against Indigenous peoples, including killing people, seizing land, kidnapping children, running residential schools or other institutions to eliminate cultures and languages, and restricting civil and religious rights.

LAUDS those Baptists and other Christians who advocated for Indigenous rights and treated Indigenous peoples with dignity and respect, including Roger Williams (Turtle Island/North America), John Saunders (Australia), and Silas Rand (Canada).

HONORS Indigenous Baptist leaders who have faithfully ministered even amid difficult circumstances, inadequate and inequitable support, and discrimination from other Baptists. Among the many in the great cloud of witnesses are Joseph Amos (U.S.), John Chilembwe (Malawi), Graham Paulson (Australia), and Truby Mihaere (Aotearoa/New Zealand).

SUPPORTS evangelistic and discipleship efforts to all peoples, provided that such methods respect the humanity, culture, language, conscience, and land of each person.

CALLS on Baptist churches, colleges, unions, and other institutions to study their own historical and present complicity with discrimination against Indigenous peoples, and urges more work toward restorative justice efforts to end discrimination against Indigenous peoples and repair the damage from past wrongs.

COMMENDS continuing Baptist efforts to acknowledge past injustices, apologize to Indigenous peoples, advocate for justice, and work toward building more inclusive fellowships. For instance, we applaud the work of Te Hāhi Iriiri o Aotearoa (The Baptist Churches of New Zealand) and Canadian Baptist Ministries.

LOOKS forward to the participation of Indigenous peoples during the 23rd Baptist World Congress in Brisbane, Australia, in 2025, and celebrates that the logo for the gathering is designed by Australian Indigenous artist Mariah Sweetman with an artistic style unique to Australian First Nations people. 

For background about the “Doctrine of Discovery,” see humanrights.ca/story/doctrine-discovery


Photos: supplied by Charles Hewlett

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