Community Information
 

Who We Are


Getting to know a congregation is a bit like getting to know a person. We can tell you a bit about who we are, and we’ll venture to do that here, but the best way to truly get to know us is by spending time with us. We invite you to join us sometime soon.

Values and Guiding Statements

The congregation, Council, and staff of First Baptist Church have several guiding statements, each adopted by the full church, that serve to inform and give purpose to all we do.

The purpose of the First Baptist Church is to inspire trust in God and develop disciples of Jesus Christ.

The First Baptist Church is Baptist by conviction, ecumenical in spirit, and committed to Christian service.

Believing that God offers forgiveness and hope to heal our lives and make us whole, we seek to create a worshiping community characterized by the study of scripture, prayer, forgiveness, peace, joy, and the full welcome of Jesus.

We accept the risk of creating a transforming community that brings good news to the poor, proclaims release to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, sets oppressed people free, and proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18-19, NRSV

The vision of the First Baptist Church is to raise the quality of life in Jesus’ name for the congregation, the community, and the world through our ministries of worship, Christian formation, fellowship, mission, and emerging ministries that foster social justice, morality and equality for all people.

Believing that God has called us into being as persons and as a church;

Confessing that we need God to experience our humanity to the fullest;

Accepting Jesus Christ as the human face of God, and One we know as brother, teacher, confessor, redeemer, Lord, and Savior;

Promising faithfulness to the way of Christ and to the unique community of the Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we establish this covenant with God and each other:

  • To uphold the purpose of the First Baptist Church of Rochester, which is to inspire trust in God and to develop disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • To endeavor to live by the moral and ethical principles taught by Christ and revealed in scripture.
  • To uphold freedom of religious expression, to honor the diverse ways in which God is known among us, and to strive for social justice within all human relationships.
  • To create a worshiping community characterized by love, the study of scripture, prayer, forgiveness, peace, joy, and welcome.
  • To accept the risks that accompany the holy process of transformation and the struggles of any community that follows Jesus with passion.
  • To pursue our common vision to raise the quality of life in Jesus’ name for the congregation, the community, and the world through our ministries of compassionate service.

What We Believe

The foundation of Baptist belief is the idea of the priesthood of all believers. It is only unique to Baptists in the extent of emphasis. We believe that all individuals are equally capable of and responsible for all matters of their own belief. For that reason, Baptists are non-creedal. We do not have a central specified doctrine of anything. While our beliefs at FBC are generally recognizable as well within the historic traditions of Christianity, we cannot and will not identify a specific set of beliefs one must adopt to be a part of the FBC community. If you have questions about particular areas of doctrine, our pastor would be a little too delighted to chat with you. Contact him here.

Where We Stand

Because we have a high appreciation for the right and responsibility of every person to arrive at their own conclusions on matters of faith and conscience Baptists seldom take collective stances on political or social issues. That doesn’t mean we don’t care deeply about the important issues of our day. It only means that when faced with a choice between maintaining community and choosing sides, we almost always choose community.

That said, the congregation of FBC has deemed it necessary to take a stand on one particular issue. Because we believe the universal church has been historically wrong in its teaching practice where human gender and sexuality are concerned and because many congregations maintain practices and policies that are exclusionary and harmful to LGBTQ+ persons, FBC has deemed itself officially Welcoming and Affirming by adopting the statement below as an official policy of the church and by officially joining the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.

“The practice and policy of the First Baptist Church of Rochester is to welcome into full membership and participation in our faith community all persons who profess Jesus as Lord—regardless of race, class, gender, disability, place of origin, or sexual orientation.”

Staff

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Rev. Brent Bowden, Pastor

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Mary Lou Altman, Financial Assistant

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Janet Richardson, Minister of Programs and Operations

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Mikhail Khilimova, Custodian

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Brian Dengler, Sexton

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Bonnie Schwartzbauer, Administrative Assistant

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Peter Cupp, Custodian

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History

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Governance and Polity

As a Baptist Church, FBC is a fully autonomous organization. While we partner with various denominational organizations for a variety of purposes, our congregation uses a democratic process to make all decisions.

Congregation

Ultimate authority in all church matters lies with the whole of the membership. Major decisions are brought before the congregation at an annual meeting in January or during special called meetings any time.

Council and Committees

The congregation elects 5 officers and 6 committee chairs who, along with the pastor, make up a Church Council who coordinate and oversee all matters on a month-to-month basis.

Staff

The staff of FBC lead from behind. The Pastor, Minister of Programs and Operations, Music Staff, Administrative Staff, and Building Staff work together to make the mission and vision set by the Council manifest in the church’s activities.

Congregation

Ultimate authority in all church matters lies with the whole of the membership.

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