This post is the continuation of my message on the “local mission” that I delivered on 6th September at Wilson Street Baptist Church. The church is celebrating missions month.
In the previous post, I shared some history snippets on the NZ Local Mission.
Let us have a brief look at the Baptist Mission in New Zealand in this post.
NZ Baptist Mission (1851)
The Baptist Churches of New Zealand Wikipedia narrates:
Several Baptists settled in New Zealand in the 1840s, but the first Baptist minister, Decimus Dolamore from Yorkshire, England, did not arrive until May 1851.
Dolamore settled in Nelson and was involved in the formation of the first Baptist Church in New Zealand – Nelson Baptist Church – that same year.
New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society
In my research online, I came upon the thesis, “A history of the New Zealand Baptist missionary society, 1885-1947” that E. P. Y. Simpson wrote in 1948.
Below are some notes I gathered from his thesis.
- The New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society was organised in October 1885 in Dunedin during the fourth annual conference of the Baptist Union of NZ.
- The delegates represented 13 churches from Auckland to Invercargill. The Baptist Union had 26 churches (approx.); 2,588 actual members; and Sunday school enrollment was 4,181.
- The pastors present had missionary experiences in India.
- Two years before the Dunedin conference, supporting foreign missions to India was widely talked about, especially on the NZ Baptist Magazine.
D.A. Davidson, in his thesis, “The New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society in India 1890-1974” wrote:
The decision of the New Zealand Baptists in 1885, “to take up at the outset Missionary work in India,” was not only an expression of their evangelistic zeal but also a reflection of the influence of the parent body, the British Baptists.
What happened to the Baptist local mission?
Before the NZ Baptist Missionary Society was organised in 1885, there were two existing local missions:
- Maori Baptist Mission
- West Coast Mission
The slide below gives brief details.
E.P.Y. Simpson mentions the following in his thesis:
- The Rev. Thomas Fairbrother of the “Baptist Maori Mission”, and the Rev. J. George Johnston, formerly evangelist for the Canterbury Baptist Association, and now Home Mission agent for the Union on the West Coast, were unable to be present at the 1885 Dunedin Baptist Union conference.
- While there were those who urged the needs of a more vigorous home mission policy, for some reason that idea did not stir the minds of the leaders adequately
- The work of the “Baptist Maori Mission” and the “West Coast Mission” (the only Union-sponsored movements) were not entirely ignored, but they were not nearly so prominently before the Baptist constituency.
- By May 1885 the paper (NZ Baptist) began to lend its strong support Miss Ellen Arnold’s suggestion that “Missionary boxes” be placed in every Baptist home.
- It was acknowledged that they were collecting boxes for the benefit of the Maori Mission, but the needs of the Indian mission were pressed with much greater vigour.
- The total impression left by the published material which went into the hands of the prospective contributors is that the Maori and West Coast Missions were quite secondary matters, while the establishing of an Indian Mission was an imperative demand.
Reading through these historical documents enable me to understand why many NZ Baptists understand “missions” as “foreign mission.”
Also, I observed that the “mission” culture of NZ Baptist churches that I’ve attended is always “foreign missions” directed.
Of course, we all need to do foreign missions in fulfillment of the Great Commission, but we should not neglect the local missions.
There has to be an excellent balance and connection between foreign and local mission so that when disruptions like the on-going coronavirus pandemic would ground foreign missions, missionaries could continue doing assignments in their local or regional settings.
CLICK on the button below to read the continuation of the sermon…