The President of the Baptist Churches of New Zealand is formally an Officer of the Baptist Union and takes on the voluntary role for a year. Susan Osborne was elected in November 2023 and is a member of Trinity Baptist Church, Titahi Bay, Wellington. For more information about the President, click here.

This song by Willie Nelson is easily the theme for this month’s update. With over 4000kms covered since May 1st, I have certainly been on the road.

A reunion at our college in Auckland

The first highlight of the month was the 1970s reunion of the Baptist College of New Zealand (now called Carey Baptist College). My husband John and I met at the college in 1971 and have good memories there. What a wonderful time meeting old friends, some of whom we have seldom seen over the last 50 years. John and I facilitated a seminar on “How our understanding and experience of God changed since leaving college.” Not surprisingly, most shared that their understanding of God is now far broader, and His love is totally unconditional. I know that this is true for me. I remind myself that I am God’s beloved every day – and that everyone I come across each day is also God’s beloved. This truth must shape my attitude and response to them.

Top of the South

After a week back in Wellington, we left for the Nelson/Marlborough region on May 14th for a week of meetings and conversations. What a beautiful area of NZ, especially in the autumn. We live in such an amazing country. I met with all of the pastors in this region and was once again impressed by the breadth of belief and practice in our movement. Each person I spoke to emphasised their conviction that God led them to this place for this time. 

It was so encouraging to hear stories of warm friendships between the pastors, supporting others through difficult times, and gospel renewal. Alf Millar from Picton wrote to me a couple of weeks after our meeting to say that a young teenager had recently become a believer. I always ask the pastors what they would like me to pray for them. Alf asked me to pray for conversions in the town. What a blessing to be a part of gospel renewal in Picton. It was also very encouraging to meet with the leaders of the Chin churches in Nelson – what a vibrant group of believers facing the significant challenges of any immigrant group.

Greymouth must be one of the few Baptist churches that COVID didn’t impact. The church is in good heart, with its buildings being used by several non-Christian groups during the week.

Otago & Southland

On to Otago Southland, colder weather, more autumn colours, and snowy mountains. But the people there have warm hearts. It was inspiring to hear the story of Jonan at Oamaru Baptist Church and how the church has grown from 15 to 50 in the last few years, with half of the congregation Filipino. They seek to be a multicultural congregation welcoming all.  

Attending the regional hui held in the Catlins, just out of Owaka, was a joy. The temperatures didn’t ever reach double digits, but the fellowship and stories made up for that. Superbly led by Rachel Murray, Regional Leader, it was a time of great conversations, excellent food, and challenging presentations.

I am encouraged by the stories I have heard and the pastors and leaders I have met. I love Craig’s story of holding Alpha courses at the local pub on a Sunday night. Plenty of curious onlookers and interesting questions!! The Baptist Churches of New Zealand are not all doom and gloom. God is at work, and it is our job to see where he is working and join him.

Photo: Susan and John meeting Jonan Castillon in Oamaru. Supplied by Susan Osborne.

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