In what has been an incredibly challenging year for us all, it has been a pleasure for our leaders to visit regions around the country to connect and share our vision with churches. Between 17th October and 19th November we travelled to seven different regions: Otago & Southland, Canterbury Westland, Top of the South, Central & Wellington, Bay of Plenty & Eastland, Waikato and Northern. This is a summary of what took place and the vision that was shared.

While we realise these Local Gatherings pale in comparison to our gathered national body, we have been incredibly blessed and encouraged to have this time in our regions. To cast and unpack our vision and see the buy-in across our churches has truly been a blessing to us. 

Our vision defines the Baptist Union as a collective of faith communities bringing gospel renewal to people and places in our local neighbourhoods. You will read more about this shared vision on pages 17 to 19, but for now we celebrate—wā whakangahau. As we have travelled around the country we have recognised and celebrated the work and achievements of our Baptist sisters and brothers in 2020. At the heart of our celebration is thanksgiving, praise and exultation as we remember what God has done for us, in us and through us by means of the service and efforts of the people we recognise. We rejoice as we honour our people and celebrate God’s goodness to us through their magnificent efforts.

David Allen, Outgoing President 

David has managed the role of president and Mission Council chair with balance and sensitivity. His strategic governance expertise has been a gift to our movement in 2020. We have appreciated his warm grace when attending to seemingly unsolvable questions. He has the heart of a pastor, and his love for the church has defined the ways he advocates for good governance. We see the love of Jesus in David’s life, and we acknowledge the work of the Spirit in empowering him for service.

Raewyn Moodie, Incoming President

Raewyn loves to encourage people to use the gifts that God has provided for the good of his Kingdom, to connect people and to pastorally stand alongside those who are having a hard time. Raewyn has a passion for our local churches to be thriving and strengthened in evangelism, and to see those of all ages who don’t yet know Jesus, become connected to a community of believers and grow as disciples. She has a deep love for our Baptist churches! 

New church: North Shore Chinese Baptist Church (NCBC)

Welcome to our newest member church! NCBC’s vision is to demonstrate the love of God, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, and building disciples for the Kingdom of God. They believe God’s greatest love to us is Jesus Christ, and that one of the greatest demonstrations of love to their community is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to their friends and family. They have a particular passion for new Chinese migrants, most of whom have not had the chance to hear the full gospel. They also place a great emphasis on keeping the faith in their family so their children will also walk on the path with God. 

Recommissioning overseas personnel

Carley

In October 2020, Carley completed over eight years’ service with NZBMS in South Asia. Carley joined our NGO, Tranzsend-Bangladesh, in January 2012, and blessed the staff and students of Golgotha English Medium School (GEMS), the wider team and many others in her community. Carley showed love to others, bringing positivity as she built up those around her. Carley’s excellence as a loving, dedicated teacher is evident in the fruit of her work. Carley leaves behind a huge hole at GEMS school—but one that will be filled by those she has mentored and developed. We are so grateful for all that Carley has given, and we know that there are a whole bunch of students and teachers who will never forget her contribution to their lives.

Josh and Robyn

In September 2020, Robyn and Josh completed over three years’ service with NZBMS in South East Asia. The family arrived there in 2017 and joined the WovenLife team. There they contributed especially through working with youth and teaching English in their local church. Settling into a small village outside of town, their home became a centre of community for local children. Now as God calls them to a new season of ministry, their support of and advocacy for the work of WovenLife remains.

Kerry and Annie

In September 2020, Annie and Kerry completed over 20 years’ service with NZBMS in South Asia. Freeset was a response to women looking for an alternative to prostitution, the choice to be free from a trade that robbed them of dignity and hope. With the support of a growing team, and many in New Zealand and across the world, Kerry and Annie grew Freeset into a significant business. More than that, as visionaries, they contributed to a significant move in the church to address the evils of trafficking, inspiring many others to join the movement. Yet, at their heart, Annie and Kerry loved nothing more than being with the women who had become their sisters. 

30 years’ long service

Andy Edwards

Breezes Road Baptist, formerly Wainoni, (1990‑2001)
Rangiora Baptist (2002‑2017)
NZDF/Workplace Chaplain (2013-present)

“My biggest desire, which is my biggest challenge, is being ‘present’ to God, myself and others… and in this journey I have found slowing down and stillness to be the precondition of presence.”

Paul Gibson

Chapel Downs Baptist (1990-1994)
Living Waters Otara Baptist (1994-present)

“I have learnt to embrace every storm that comes our way, enjoy it and watch the hands of God move in his power, changing us and those we work with. I love serving God in the valley more than being on the mountaintop. I am a pastor called by God himself. Trust God in everything, stay close to Jesus always and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit at all times.”

Ann Marshall

Mt Albert Baptist (1990‑2004)
Blockhouse Bay Baptist (2004-2018)
Mt Roskill Baptist (2019-present)

“Probably my greatest learning has been, and continues to be, to learn to trust God in the lives and situations of the people I’m involved with, and to look for the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work and leading.”

Murray Snook

Pauanui Baptist (1990-present)

“For me the reward of pastoring is to see the transformation in people’s lives as Jesus sets them free, and Holy Spirit fills and empowers them and Father God enfolds them in his love, enabling them to walk into the destiny that he has for them.”

Thank you Lord for these marvellous people who have given their lives in service to you!


Sharing the vision

At the Local Gatherings, Charles Hewlett (Baptist National Leader), Alan Jamieson (NZBMS General Director) and John Tucker (Carey Principal) talked about gospel renewal in both our local and global contexts, and how we can develop the kind of robust leadership needed to support that mission. Here are summaries of what they shared.

Charles Hewlett, Baptist National Leader

Over the past month or so, it has been a privilege to travel the country and meet with over 600 Baptist leaders, pastors, chaplains and laypeople. While there was much about the national Hui that we missed, the opportunity to meet face-to-face regionally with a far greater number of people was a huge benefit. I am grateful to all the people who worked so hard in hosting our seven Local Gatherings events—thank you so much.

The main focus of my presentation was the pithy statement that I have been using when people ask me to describe the Baptist Union of New Zealand:

A collective of faith communities bringing gospel renewal to people and places in our local neighbourhoods. 

I would like to encourage Baptist faith communities to discuss this statement often, with real intent—what might gospel renewal look like to people and places in our local neighbourhood? At the Local Gatherings we discussed three questions in this regard. How can gospel renewal be achieved in our local context? What things hinder gospel renewal from happening in our local context? What changes do we need to make so gospel renewal might occur? I encourage you to make these questions the focus of your conversations when you gather together. 

I commented at our Local Gatherings that if our faith communities are to participate effectively in the mission of God, it is important they are marked out by four things: robust leadership, growing disciples, healthy resources and authentic worship. I encouraged our leaders to make a priority of these four things. Are we investing in the development of our leaders, including me as the pastor? Are people growing deeper in their love for God and their neighbour? How might the Bible become more central in our priorities and decision making? Are we taking advice on how to be good stewards of the resources we have been given? I believe that when these areas come together we will be effective in our mission.

Finally, I suggested that for our local faith communities to thrive it is important that our regional associations are healthy. I am thankful to God for the team of regional leaders as pictured below. 

The main role of a regional leader is to develop strong relationships with local church pastors and leaders in their region. It is also to help the region associate well, e.g. a sense of collegiality, healthy clusters, region-wide activities and initiatives, formation of new faith communities, etc. I look forward to working collaboratively with this team in leadership of the Baptist Union of New Zealand. And as a national centre based in Auckland, we look forward to serving our regional leaders the best that we can in their service of you. 

Please pray with us that God would use Baptist faith communities to bring gospel renewal to many people in many places.

Alan Jamieson, NZBMS General Director

I’ve enjoyed our Local Gatherings. It has been great to be with church people, leaders and pastors in your regions. Great to hear your stories and see a glimpse of the life, issues, pressures and joys for each region. It has been a tough year for everyone. Thank you for welcoming me into your space so generously. 

Thank you for your continued commitment to Jesus, your local church community, your neighbourhood and God’s world. As so many struggle through this pandemic it is appropriate to thank you for, and continue to ask for, your prayers and open hearts to the call to join God in his global mission. That during this time in particular the global heartbeat of God rings out clearly and loudly in every New Zealand Baptist church. 

For me, these Local Gatherings were a wonderful opportunity to talk through a potential new strategy for NZBMS. A strategy that we are developing collaboratively, each conversation at the Local Gatherings adding to and polishing our emerging strategy.

The proposed strategy is founded on the vision of us as a collective of faith communities bringing gospel renewal to people and places in our local neighbourhoods. For NZBMS this is a vision statement we can own and are excited about. A vision that sees every neighbourhood as significant and the site of God’s work. It picks up Jesus’ great command that we love our neighbours and make space in our lives and communities for everyone—young and old, recent immigrants and tangata whenua, the wealthy and the struggling. It is, quite simply, for everyone everywhere.

I love that the renewal described in this vision is local and global and that what we do in global mission is seen as the same as what we do right here in our suburbs in New Zealand. That’s a challenge to us all, wherever we live. Our mission call to nurture community is the same in essence, even if it is unique in location. 

For NZBMS our focus will primarily be on our global neighbourhoods but how we go about it is the same in Whanganui, Taupō, Christchurch, Invercargill, Kolkata, Tripura, Bangladesh and elsewhere. Now that’s an exciting, challenging and all-embracing call to mission. 

We see the wholeness of the gospel in renewal that seeks transformation in people and places. We all know it takes a village to raise a child or keep a vulnerable person safe or an elderly person respected and contributing. So, we need to see deep renewal in individuals’ lives and in the places where we live and work. 

But mostly I’m encouraged by this vision because it is all about the gospel of Jesus. That gospel renewal can be the basis of our local churches and our global mission. That is the good news of Jesus. Jesus who said he was anointed by the Holy Spirit to announce good news to the poor, to bring freedom and healing, to open eyes and minds, to set the oppressed free and to usher in the reality of God’s hope.

John Tucker, Carey Baptist College Principal

If our churches are to be thriving faith communities that bring gospel renewal to people and places, they will be marked by robust leaders. They will be leaders with these kinds of qualities:

  • a strong focus on Jesus
  • biblical literacy and a capacity to equip others biblically
  • emotional intelligence, with self-awareness
  • ability to think and work strategically
  • ability to lead teams and empower others 
  • capacity to effect change, and take risks when required
  • ability to cope with difference and handle conflict
  • appreciation of Baptist ecclesiology and church governance
  • commitment to professional development
  • commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and an understanding of Māori tikanga.

These kinds of leaders don’t spring up overnight. They need to be nurtured. They need to be grown. That’s why 94 years ago our family of churches established Carey. Our pastoral leadership training programme is a three-year formation process for growing these kinds of leaders. It has four components:

  • theological study: either part-time or full-time, on site or online
  • ministry placements: supervised leadership in a church or missional community 
  • cohort learning: focusing on the character, skills and spirituality crucial to ministry 
  • personal mentoring: to help each student integrate their head, heart and hands. 

Regional ministry training

This is a rigorous, comprehensive, transformative process. But it has one major limitation: it’s based in Auckland! For 94 years, as a collective of churches, we’ve said, “Let’s send our best young leaders to Carey for training, and they’ll send them back to us.” The reality is, though, not everyone can get to Auckland. Two years ago, we surveyed Baptist churches right across Aotearoa. We asked them, “How can we serve you better?” The reply: “Make your training more accessible.” 

In response, we’ve piloted this year a regional mode of ministry training based in churches across New Zealand. It’s gone really well. So, next year, in partnership with the Baptist Union, Carey is launching a regional pathway for ministry training. Now your gifted emerging ministry leaders can participate in Carey’s pastoral ministry training programme without leaving their region. You no longer need to come to Carey to train. Carey is coming to you. 

This is a major initiative for both Carey and the Baptist Union. Our ministry training team is looking forward to exploring with each regional leader how we can work together to train robust leaders in each region from next year. Think about the emerging leaders in your faith community. Who’s the young leader that comes to mind? With focused training, could they be the next pastoral leader for your church? With focused training, could they be one of the most resilient and effective leaders in your region? That training is now available, wherever you’re based. 

Contextual professional development

Carey’s move to an accessible regional model of training also extends to professional development. We’ve designed a postgraduate curriculum for busy pastors and leaders in the midst of ministry. The courses are practice-based. They’re designed to help you engage more effectively with the opportunities and challenges in your ministry context. 

Through our Centre for Lifelong Learning, we’ve also designed a range of online leadership development courses that are accessible from any church, any home. They’re shaped around our movement’s five priorities: robust leaders, growing disciples, healthy resources, authentic worship and effective mission.

Along with these courses, we’ve developed an online teaching series for life groups and Christians who are wanting to grow in their discipleship. This Focus webinar series is a monthly hour-long lecture with live Q & A. It’s designed to bring into focus important Bible, theology and mission topics. 

Carey exists to serve our collective of faith communities, both by equipping pastors, and by resourcing churches. We’re excited by the way technology is making our training accessible to every leader, every church, every disciple in our movement. I hope you can make use of it this coming year. (For more information about postgraduate and leadership courses and the Focus webinar series, visit carey.ac.nz and lifelonglearning.nz.)