Priesthood Of All Believers
Being American Baptist means practicing a faith that affirms and encourages the priesthood of all believers. That is, we’re tenacious about the fact that God speaks freely to us all, and that each one of us has an individual and direct relationship with God that is not brokered by an institution or a member of the clergy.
Autonomy Of The Local Church
A great gift of being an American Baptist is the autonomy of the local church. Much like our individual belief in the responsibility of each person to cultivate relationship with God, our church community has that responsibility, too. As American Baptists we are constantly asking where it is God is leading us as a community of faith and how we will respond to that leading. No larger entity or denominational body dictates whom we hire, who is accepted into membership, where our money goes, or what polity statements we adopt.
Separation Of Church And State And Religious Liberty
The church is never a forum for promoting the state. We answer to a higher calling—we are people engaged in living the radical Gospel of Jesus Christ, and thus we work to keep these allegiances separate.
Of course, all of these qualities are encompassed in a high regard for Holy Scripture. Its prominence and responsible interpretation is important to us. We hope you will soon experience this by our weekly reading of four passages from the Bible in worship and our pastors’ regular insistence that we get into the Bible and grapple with what it has to say.
Lordship Of Jesus Christ
Most of all, who we are as American Baptists is defined by our affirmation of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, which is a kind of old-fashioned way of saying we’re followers of Jesus and that we nurture our community and try our best, with the help of God’s ongoing presence and leadership, to live the two greatest commandments Jesus taught us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ Matthew 22:37-40
American Baptist USA
– A Brief History –
American Baptists, Southern Baptists and all the scores of other Baptist bodies in the U.S. and around the world grew out of a common tradition begun in the early 17th century. That tradition has emphasized the Lordship and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, believers’ baptism, the competency of all believers to be in direct relationship with God and to interpret Scripture, the influence of the Holy Spirit on individual lives and ministries, and the need for autonomous congregations free from government interference or hierarchical polity.