Church Community

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Who We Are

There are hundreds of Baptist Denominations across the globe, agreeing on one thing, baptism by immersion. Baptist denominations differ in their beliefs and their forms of government. Baptist belief grows out of a commitment to the freedom and responsibility of an individual to arrive at their own convictions about faith and life, the idea understood as “soul freedom”. This belief has profound implications among Baptists.
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We are non-creedal.
Nobody at First Rochester will tell you what to believe. We are informed and educated by the great creeds of the church, but nobody is required to affirm them or any other doctrinal statement in order to be a part of our church.
We have congregational polity.
We are congregational in government, which means we make our own decisions using a democratic form of governance and we own our own property. The wisdom and convictions of the congregation guide our decision making. Our pastor is a peer-leader among us whose training and wisdom we rely on and who is equal in authority with all church members. As a member of the Rochester Genesee Region of American Baptist Churches we partner with other Churches to do more together than we can alone. We are not governed by that partnership.
We are a Welcoming and Affirming Church.
It is our practice and policy 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. We strive to create an environment where everyone can fully participate, contribute, and feel a sense of belonging.
Community is extremely important to us.
Christian community happens at First Baptist informally as we share our lives together and formally within our Worship and our programs. We trust our relationships with one another to: allow safe space for questions; sharpen our interpretation of scriptures and other texts; grow in our understandings of Jesus and of God; and inform our moral and ethical decision making.
We take religious liberty seriously.
Believing that the health and well-being of all persons relies on their ability to seek answers to faith questions without coercion by anyone (including that of governments or other agencies) we deeply believe that a society in which people have freedom of religion (or from religion) is absolutely necessary.


​At First Rochester, we hope to have a positive impact on the world around us. We strive toward social justice, we share our building and our resources with worthy partners, and we volunteer and serve around Rochester in myriad ways. We recognize though, that while changing the world for the better is of critical importance to us, we can only do that together. That’s why community is the foundation of everything we do. We worship together, serve together, learn together, grow together, play together from time to time, and we take care of each other – but don’t take our word for it. Come and see.

Being Together…

Our Staff

Rev. Joanne Gilbert-Cannon
Henry Griffin
Music Director
Eliecia Young
Pastoral Assistant
Samuel Baker
Janet Richardson
Director of Operations
Brian Dengler

We Care for One Another

We show our kindness by the care we offer each other and our neighbors, through:

  • Our Care Team which is a  faithful group of people who look for ways to celebrate and offer care, with cards, phone calls, and visits.
  • Community Time is a time following worship for conversation and connection with friends and guests along with a light snack.
  • Birthday “community time” cake, community dinners, special activities and celebrations, and music programs.
  • Pastoral Care is done with notes, calls, and visits from one of the pastors.
  • Pastoral Counseling is by appointment.  (Please phone the church office to arrange a time to meet with the pastor).
  • Offering the use of our facility and staff for weddings, funerals, and other important life events.