Getting to know a church is a bit like getting to know a person. It doesn’t happen in a moment and it doesn’t happen fully without spending time together. What follows is only an introduction based on our best guess at what parts of our congregational identity might be most helpful to web site visitors. We invite you to ask your unanswered specific questions using the contact form at the bottom of the page. But of course, we want to have an opportunity to get to know you too. Would you consider joining us for worship or an upcoming event in the near future?
Ask ten Baptists what it means to be one and you’ll get as many answers (if not more). That’s because Baptist belief grows out of a stubborn commitment to the freedom and responsibility of individuals to arrive at their own conclusions about faith and life. Some call this idea “soul freedom” or “soul competency”. This conviction, simple on its face, has some profound implications.
We are non-creedal. 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 FBC.
We have congregational polity. The wisdom and conviction of the congregation guides our church. Our pastor is a peer-leader among us whose training and wisdom we rely upon, but who has no more authority than any other person in the church. Our denominational partners offer us the opportunity to work together with congregations and individuals around the world, but we are not governed by them. We own our property and we make our decisions locally using a democratic form of government.
Because we have no creed and nobody telling us how to believe or what to do we trust our relationships with one another to continually sharpen our interpretation of scripture, our understanding of God, and the moral and ethical decisions we make. Some of this process takes place within our Christian Education programs, but much of it takes place informally simply by sharing our lives with one another. We call that “community.”
Because the mission and ministry of our church relies on the wellbeing of the individuals in our congregation and the wellbeing of individuals relies on their ability to seek answers to foundational questions without coercion we believe that a society in which people have freedom of religion (and/or freedom from religion for that matter) is vitally necessary.
At FBCR 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.
We are a welcoming and affirming church. That means we not only welcome LGBTQI+ persons into every phase and aspect of church life, but we affirm their identities as made in the image of God.
We wish such statements didn’t need to be made. We wish that full inclusion of all people and affirmation of people of all genders and sexualities were simply the norm and able to be taken for granted. Because they are not we will continue to proclaim God’s love of all people with PRIDE!
Tap to read our policy on inclusion.
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.
How We Care for One Another
At First Baptist Church we have a team of volunteers who are constantly on the lookout for needs and celebrations occurring within the congregation. When something comes up they work with other members of FBC to find ways to be present and supportive. Sometimes that simply means a visit or phone call, other times that means working with the Fellowship Team to plan a worthy celebration or coordinating with staff to provide pastoral care.
At FBC we are intentional about spending unprogrammed time together. Moments of fellowship are built into our Worship and Education gatherings for just this purpose and you’ll never want for an invitation to lunch, dinner, or a cup of coffee. These moments provide opportunity for us to invest in one another’s lives.
Our staff and our facilities are available for these and other pastoral celebrations:
- Weddings (Yes, LGBTQIA+ weddings too!)
- Vow Renewal Ceremonies
- Baby Dedications
- Funerals/Celebrations of Life
- Blessings (New home, new ventures, pet, etc)
Whether you are a regular attendee at FBC or not our pastor is willing to listen and walk with you through:
- Major life changes
- Relationship Issues
- Identity Questions
- Theological Conundrums
- Moments of High Anxiety
- Medical Diagnoses & Treatment
- Any other concern
We have comfortable, confidential places to chat on campus. If you need or prefer another location our pastor may be able to meet you elsewhere.
Contact our pastor to schedule an appointment.
In a poem near to the heart of our faith tradition (23rd Psalm) the writer describes God’s provision, care, and love as a cup overflowing. That’s how we imagine our church family. We believe we are called to be the presence of God’s love in the world, but we are equipped and empowered to do so through the power of our togetherness. We see our congregation as a chalice being filled with the love and provision of God through our commitment to caring for one another. This love, we pray, will be so rich and so abundant that our congregation will not be able to contain it and it will come spilling out on the world around. It all starts with our love and care for one another.
Love Spilling Out
Sharing the love of God among those within the FBC community would give us purpose enough to exist, but we feel that God has called us to more. Our central purpose is to be a redemptive presence within the world. We can’t do that from within the four walls on our campus. We strive to be present and helpful in Rochester and beyond by championing the causes of justice, peace, and equality.
Contributed in the last decade to partners in Rochester, in the US, and around the world.
Mary Lou Altman
A Web Site is necessarily only a snap-shot of the life of a church. If you have specific questions not answered here, please use this form to submit them to FBC staff or simply give us a call at 585.244.2468.