The Associate Pastor Search Committee is thrilled to introduce

Benjamin Smith

and commend him to you, the FBCR congregation, as our new Associate Pastor.

Saturday's Opportunities to Meet Benjamin Postponed

Travel Delays Have Forced a Change in Our Scheduled Opportunities to Meet Benjamin

A storm in Jackson set Benjamin’s trip behind and further resulting complications mean Benjamin will not be in until late Saturday night. See below for a revised schedule.

Benjamin Smith received his M.Div from Wake Forest University School of Divinity this summer and grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. He has served in congregations from Austin to Atlanta and has a heart for the church and its people. He is currently a candidate for ordination with the Alliance of Baptists and is passionate about forming bonds with all age groups. In his free time you can find him biking, hiking, playing piano, and spending time with friends and family. He is grateful for the chance to be a part of FBC’s journey and is ready to walk with each of you on this road ahead. (He also needs someone to show him what a Garbage Plate is and is currently accepting offers!)

I have experienced God’s movement in my life with an intensity that drew me to ministry at a young age. I have responded by serving in four congregations where I have explored pastoral care, preaching, worship arts, and youth and college formation. My work in these churches has been driven by a deeply personal belief in the local church as a healing community of God’s love and transformation. Just as the atom is the building block of matter, I believe the local church is the building block of God’s peaceable reality of welcome and grace. As an LGBTQ person, I believe this work demands courage; as a Baptist, I believe it requires conscience; and as a minister I believe our common priesthood empowers us to make this future a reality.

Pastor Brent and Benjamin W. Smith, prospective Associate Pastor of FBCR sit down for a conversation last week.

Schedule Changed

as of Saturday, July 17 9:00am

Sunday, July 18

Due to unavoidable travel delays Benjamin will arrive in Rochester well after Saturday’s Scheduled events. For that reason, the following opportunities to get to know him will be held on Sunday:


Bagels with Benjamin – Sunday | Come and Go | Garden Room & Zoom | Beginning at 8:30am

Join us in the Garden Room or on Zoom to have a bagel and spend a few minutes in conversation with Benjamin.


Morning Worship

Sanctuary & Zoom | 10am

Benjamin will be preaching, offering a Time with Children, and helping lead worship. July 18 will also be our first Sunday back together in the sanctuary.


Special Congregational Meeting

Sanctuary & Zoom

The FBCR Trustees have called a Special Congregational Meeting for the purpose of affirming Benjamin’s call as Associate Pastor.

FBCR is in need of an Associate Pastor able to minister to and equip our people in all areas of church life while focusing particularly on children, their families, and our faith formation initiatives. That scope of ministry priorities requires a person with a breadth of capabilities and depth of insight. Benjamin Smith is that person! His background, his training, his personality, his passion, and even his sense of humor are exactly what we need and I’m delighted the Search Committee has recommended him as our Associate Pastor.

-Rev. Brent Bowden


I am delighted that Benjamin has said “yes” to our community.  Benjamin Smith is warm, engaging, eloquent and has a great sense of humor.  He possesses a sensitivity to the needs of all ages and was highly praised for his creativity when designing programs to engage families in Church life.  His non-profit work in Jackson, Mississippi put him right at the intersection of Christian values and the realities of the poor.  I think that the future of FBCR will be greatly enhanced by his active presence and  faith committment.

-Rose Welch


I am excited to recommend Benjamin Smith as our Associate Pastor and to have him join our ministerial staff just as we are re-entering life together after separation by COVID.  He seems a great fit with our job description to work with families with children and to provide pastoral and congregational care to all ages.

-Bob Oaks


I am very excited to have Benjamin join our church family!  He is insightful, witty and very creative and he will be a great addition to FBCR.

-Melissa Spooner


Benjamin is bringing such a charismatic and insightful soul to join the FBCR family. I’m excited to see what the future holds.

-Amanda Hefferon


Benjamin loves God, lively conversation and Stever’s chocolate. He’ll fit right into our church family

-Nan Wilson

Churches Served

Northwest Presbyterian Church, Atlanta – Minister to Youth

University Baptist Church, Austin – Pastoral Resident (including work with children and youth)

Ellis Avenue Church, Chicago – Pastoral Intern

Northside Baptist Church, Clinton – Youth Director


Other Related Experience

Stewpot Community Services, Jackson – Founded a store for those experiencing homelessness

S.T.R.I.V.E. Summer Tutoring Program, Chicago – Assistant Director

Alliance of Baptists – Intern (digital communications and event planning)


Master of Divinity – Wake Forest University School of Divinity

Master of Arts in History – Mississippi College


Benjamin was approved for ordination by his home congregation, Northminster Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi on Sunday, June 27. A service celebrating and affirming his ordination will be held there in late July. The Alliance of Baptists will recognize his ordination immediately and upon joining FBCR he will be eligible to begin the process to have his ordination recognized by the Rochester Genesee Region of the American Baptists USA.



The FBCR Trustees have called a Special Meeting of the Congregation to be held immediately after worship on Sunday, July 18, 2021 for the purpose of affirming the call of Benjamin Smith to be our Associate Pastor. This will be a “hybrid” congregational meeting allowing full participation in both voice and vote for those attending in person or online via Zoom. See the initial announcement of the Search Committee below.

            Just a little over one year ago, in June 0f 2020, our congregation created and approved the members of an Associate Pastor Search Committee.

            The Search Committee: Nan Wilson, Rose Welch, Amanda Hefferon, Melissa Spooner and Bob Oaks, is pleased to offer our recommendation to the Congregation – Benjamin W. Smith.

            From the time we first received his initial application in mid-February, through his follow-up to a series of questions we asked of him, to two Zoom interviews, a visit to Rochester to meet us in person, and right up to now; we have been impressed with his expression of his faith and call to ministry.  Though having just graduated from Wake Forest University School of Divinity, he brings a deep faith experience and understanding beyond his years.  Benjamin is a native of Jackson, Mississippi and is a candidate for ordination with the Alliance of Baptists.  In his free time, you can find him biking, hiking, playing piano and spending time with family and friends.

            There are numerous reasons we are recommending Benjamin, He is thoughtful, engaging, talented, creative and energizing.  Each member of the search committee feels strongly about him being the right person to be recommended to our congregation for the Associate Pastor position and we do that enthusiastically and without reservation. 

            When we contacted Benjamin after his visit to Rochester just a few weeks ago, we told him:  “We want you to know that we all had a wonderful experience with you this week…we all agree that our in-person experience only reaffirmed our interest in and commitment to you as the person we would like to recommend to the First Baptist Church of Rochester as our Associate Pastor…We make this offer with excitement and a vision that you can be a key part of our ministerial staff as we find ways to serve God together and grow in our faith.”

            A few days later, Benjamin responded, “I wholeheartedly accept the Search Committee’s offer to be your Associate Pastor.  I pledge to work tirelessly with you during our time together.  I am looking forward to serving in this special role and taking these next steps with you.”

            To our FBCR family, our search committee hopes we have conveyed to you our collective excitement to make this recommendation to you and we hope you will learn more about Benjamin Smith through the information on our website, his participation in worship on July 18 and meeting informally that weekend and immediately after our congregational vote on Sunday.