About Our Church


OUR CHURCH is a Baptist church by conviction and a biblicist church by principle and doctrine. As an Independent Baptist church, we are not affiliated with any particular Baptist denomination or ruling body. This has always been the case, an Independent Baptist Church is not a break away from any other Baptist affiliation, neither from the Baptist Union. As an Independent church we vote to support our own missionaries, select our own leaders, and support institutions that believe as we believe. In short, our church answers to Jesus Christ rather than a denominational body. The Bible is our church manual, with absolute and final authority over everything our church does within or without the church. There are many Independent Baptist Churches here in New Zealand, and thousands more throughout the world.

OUR MEMBERS offer a warm family atmosphere where you will be welcome and where you can be a part of what God is doing through us. We are a group of ordinary people from all parts of the world (New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, America, etc.). This diversity beings much joy, excitement, life and laughter into our fellowship. Our diversity combined with our individual uniquenesses, bound together with our common faith in Jesus Christ is the perfect formula for the success of our church. This success comes with each member caring one for the other, bearing one another’s burdens, and performing our biblical spiritual gifts as we strive together as a church to seek after God and His godliness in this life through our Lord Jesus Christ.

OUR PASTOR, Lewis Howell, was appointed as the Pastor of the Sonshine Independent Baptist Church in December 2010. He is a native of Baltimore, Maryland (USA) and was educated at Ambassador Baptist College in Lattimore, North Carolina (USA) and at the Gulf Coast Bible Institute in Fort Walton Beach, Florida (USA) where he received his Bachelor and Master degrees. Pastor Howell applied his education in training at the Faith Baptist Church in Shelby, North Carolina (USA) where he traveled the country preaching, teaching and promoting worldwide missions for 6 years prior to coming to Whakatane, New Zealand. Knowing this is where God would have him to serve, Pastor Howell completely uprooted his family and moved his life and livelihood to our community. This move did not come lightly, but after much prayer and several trips to New Zealand working with churches in different cities. With a deep love for the country and the people of New Zealand, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives in Whakatane, he and his family applied for and received their permanent residence in New Zealand.

ON YOUR FIRST VISIT, please inquire if you have any questions about who we are