United Baptist work amongst the Maori people began in 1954 in Pukekohe, extending later to Te Kohanga and Port Waikato. Miss Joan Milner, followed by the Rev. C. D. Jones, B.SC., and Mrs Jones had the task of establishing it. Baptist witness to Chinese people resident in New Zealand has resulted in the formation of Chinese Baptist Churches in Wellington and Auckland. In Wellington there was formerly a joint Anglican-Baptist Chinese Mission, the separate Baptist Church being established in 1951 with the Rev. Peter Fung as minister.
Baptist youth work grew under the successive direction of the Revs. L. B. Busfield and P. L. A. Crampton, B.A., and of the Rev. J. J. Burt, the present Director of Christian Education. A recent innovation has been the All Age Sunday School where the whole family meets for Bible study. The Bible Class movement has held a large place in Baptist life, with Easter camps and other interclass activities fostering the development of young Baptists.
Social service amongst Baptists has found expression through individuals and in institutions. Men such as J. J. North, J. J. Doke, R. S. Gray, J. K. Archer (formerly Mayor of Christchurch), J. S. Barnett, and W. S. Rollings were well known for their work in this sphere. Baptists have a children's home at Manurewa, a hostel for young people working in Wellington, and homes for the elderly in Auckland, Christchurch, and Dunedin. A city mission was established in Auckland in 1960. Baptist opinion on matters of civic and national importance is expressed through membership on the Inter-church Council on Public Affairs, by the Baptist Women's League, and through the Baptist Public Questions Committee. Baptist members joined the forces in considerable numbers in both world wars. Ministers who served overseas as chaplains were the Revs. Guy Thornton, J. Hiddlestone, L. A. Day, A. H. Finlay, and Roland Hart. Baptists have taken an active part in the ecumenical movement and have been represented at the Faith and Order, and Life and Work Conferences of the National Council of Churches.
Strong centres of Baptist witness have existed from early times. The Rev. A. North (who was largely responsible for the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society) made the Hanover Street pulpit in Dunedin a telling force. His son, the Rev. J. J. North, did the same in Wellington and Christchurch, as did the Rev. Joseph W. Kemp in the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle. Rural work, however, has not been entirely neglected, an example being the activity over many years of the Rev. E. T. Jones in the hinterlands of Canterbury and on the West Coast.
The executive direction of Baptist work through the Union and Missionary Society has fallen upon the general secretary. Those who have given full time to this service, and to whom the Church owes much, have been the Revs. R. S. Gray, M. W. P. Lascelles, P. F. Lanyon, and the present holder of the office, the Rev. L. A. North. The headquarters of the Baptist Union of New Zealand and the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society are in Boulcott Street, Wellington. Denominational Publication: New Zealand Baptist.
by George Thomas Beilby, M.A., Minister, Baptist Church, Taupo.