Baptist Union of New Zealand

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The Baptist Union of New Zealand is an association of Baptist churches in the country of New Zealand.

According to Union statements, they believe "the true humanity and Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ; the atonement made on the cross by our Lord for the sin of the world; the person of the Holy Spirit as the one who sets apart, empowers, and imparts spiritual gifts to the church; the inspiration of the Bible and its authority in all matters of faith and practice; salvation and membership in the Church by faith in Christ alone; membership of the church for the regenerate; [and] the immersion of believers as the scriptural form of water baptism."

Theologically, the Baptist Union member churches are deeply influenced by the charismatic renewal movement, though there is no official position regarding the movement. A study in 1989 indicated that 69% of churches belonging to the Baptist Union identified with the charismatic movement.[1] A smaller portion of member churches are Reformed in doctrine.

The Union supports education through Carey Baptist College in Penrose, Auckland, and Te Whare Amorangi, designed for Maori men and women, in Papatoetoe, Auckland. The Baptist National Centre is the registered office of the Baptist Union of New Zealand, the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society and Baptist Care Limited, and is located in Penrose.

In 2006, Baptist Union membership included 23,118 baptized believers in 244 churches and fellowships.


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. He was instrumental in obtaining a change in the law to allow Baptist ministers to perform marriage ceremonies; until 1854, only Catholic and Anglican priests were allowed to do so. Dolamore later went to Christchurch and was the first minister for that congregation.[2]

The Canterbury Baptist Association was formed in 1874. This association started the New Zealand Baptist magazine, which has been published monthly since January 1881. The Baptist Union of New Zealand was formed at Wellington in October 1882. At that time, there were 22 Baptist churches, with 1,890 members. The New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society was formed at the 1885 conference of the Baptist Union. At the 1891 conference, the Union established a plan to divide the country into four districts - "Otago/Southland" (org. 1892), "Auckland" (org. 1892), "Canterbury & Westland" (org. 1892), and "Central" (org. 1896). Central District was later divided into the Central District Association and the "Wellington" Association, and "South Auckland" was formed in 1939. South Auckland was later divided into the "Waikato" Association and the "Bay of Plenty" Association (now Bay of Plenty & Eastland). The "Top of the South" Association was formed in 1990. Some groups were called "auxiliary" and some "association", but in 1957, the term "auxiliary" was dropped in favor of the term "association". There are currently 9 associations.

The Oxford Terrace Baptist Church in Christchurch Central City was damaged in the 2010 Canterbury earthquake and collapsed in the subsequent February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.[3]

Prominent New Zealand Baptists[edit]

  • Decimus Dolamore - first Baptist minister in New Zealand
  • Thomas Spurgeon - successful evangelist and son of famous English Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon
  • Charles Dallaston - "the Father of the Baptist Union"
  • John James North - the first principal of the New Zealand Baptist Theological College
  • Charles Henry Carter (29 October 1828 – 6 July 1914) - a Baptist missionary to Ceylon. Literary Works - Translations. Extraordinarily Carter translated from the Greek and Hebrew texts, not the English. The Sinhalese work was done in vernacular language, that it could embody the message in a dialect that was understood by the people everywhere. His works include:
    • Sinhalese New Testament 1855
    • Sinhalese Book of Psalms 1863
    • Sinhalese Old Testament 1869
    • English – Sinhalese Dictionary 1881
    • Sinhalese – English Dictionary 1889

Towards the end of his life, Carter became Pastor of the Ponsonby Baptist Church in New Zealand. He was the first president of the Baptist Union of New Zealand. Bishop Coppelstone, Anglican Primate of India is said to have described Carter as the "foremost Sinhalese scholar of this age".[4][5][6][7]


  1. ^ Tucker, John (October 2007). "Heads in the Sand: New Zealand Baptists and the Tour Debate" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-13. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
  2. ^ "About us". Oxford Terrace Baptist Church. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  3. ^ van Beynen, Martin (5 September 2010). "Quake devastates Christchurch's heritage". The Press. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  4. ^ Charles Carter. A Sinhalese-English dictionary. Colombo: The "Ceylon Observer" Printing Works; London: Probsthain & Co., 1924
  5. ^ Carter C, A Sinhalese-English Bible ISBN 81-206-1174-8.
  6. ^ New Zealand Baptist 1914, pages 152/3
  7. ^ Lapham, H.A. Public Speech to Bible Translation Society (NZ) 27 April 1903.
  • A Handful of Grain: The Centenary History of the Baptist Union of New Zealand (Volumes 1-4), by Paul Tonson, J. Ayson Clifford, G. T. Beilby, & S. L. Edgar
  • Baptists Around the World, by Albert W. Wardin, Jr.
  • The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness, by H. Leon McBeth

External links[edit]