Waikato and Bay of Plenty & Eastland Baptist Associations

An update from Regional Leader Peter Foster for 2023.

I want to thank all the people involved in our two regions: Pastors, Leaders, Elders, and church members for their commitment to their local church, the wider Baptist movement and their local communities.

This commitment has seen an increase in Gospel renewal, reflected in an increase in baptisms, stabilising church attendance and membership and appointments of new pastors and church leaders.

I have enjoyed watching this happen in our two regions this past year.

Highlights this year for me as Regional Leader have been:

> Attending a baptism service with 18 people being baptised

> Attending our Regional Hui and grappling with how we continue to see Gospel renewal happen in our local communities.

> Working with new pastors who have been appointed in the area

> Meeting regularly with our pastors monthly at the four cluster groups we run

> Regularly meeting with our youth pastors and leaders

> Watching a replant of Ngaruawahia Baptist Church

> Having regular contact with the other Regional Leaders and National staff

> Having the opportunity to preach at various churches throughout the year

> Working with both Association executives as we support the local churches in the area

> Opening of the new Golden Sands Baptist Church Facility

> Witnessing the purchase of property for Welcome Bay Baptist

We have awesome churches and awesome people in our region. Every church that I talk with wants to see mission happen amongst them. They want to see a mixture of ages and ethnicities in their church communities. Their commitment to see these things happen is second to none – but there are challenges that we face.

Many of our churches have challenges around finances, staffing, property maintenance and the busyness of people. I appreciate how each of them works through these issues, and we continue to keep them on our agenda and pray to see solutions for these challenges.

Finally, in October 2022, we farewelled Sean Shutte, Pastor of Matamata Baptist Church, who passed away tragically. Sean left behind Jess, his wife, and Kenzy, his young daughter. His passing was a huge loss to Matamata Baptist. He was a passionate, Jesus-loving pastor who wanted to see his community change for good. Thank you, Matamata, for the way that you helped us grieve his passing and for the way that you have supported Jess and Kenzy. He is missed by us all.

I look forward to the year to come.

Photo: Baptism at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Tauranga, May 2023. Taken by Charl Louw.

This update is from the 2022 Annual Report of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand, which you can view here.

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