New Member Information
Welcome to Seattle First Baptist Church. We are thankful that you are here because we know that your presence is a gift. And we hope that your experience of this community will be a gift to you as well.
Our Mission Statement says, we are "a community of faith united in exploring what it means to follow the way of Jesus Christ, to be a people of God and to love and care for our neighbors." In order to be that community, we have given ourselves three tasks:
Liberating the Heart. One of the central characteristics of our Baptist heritage is "soul freedom" — the liberation not only of the mind but of the heart so that we can freely and fully love the world God loves. The aim of our worship, retreats, interfaith connections, and small groups is to "free out hearts," as the hymn says, "for faith and praise."
Engaging the Mind. Through education programs for the whole family, we expect that our exploration of what it means to follow the way of Jesus Christ and to be a people of God will open our minds — not close them. Opportunities for thoughtful reflection abound both in formal study programs and informal conversations. We bring our whole selves to this community so that we can...
Embrace the World. We bring our hearts and minds together so that we can put our hands to work. We know that the good work of loving and caring for our neighbors takes a thoughtful and compassionate community. Which brings us back, full circle, to "liberating the heart." The needs of the world can be such a great burden on our hearts that we lose our energy and vision. We gather to remind ourselves that the work of embracing the world begins with, and is sustained by, a liberated heart.
We hope that you will join us in this mission and these opportunities. And we are grateful for the gift of your presence on this journey of exploration, reflection, and hope. We trust that, together, we can love and transform the world. Blessings to you and through you to the world.
Rev. Tim Phillips, lead pastor
Rev. Catherine Fransson, pastor
Rev. Craig Darling, pastor
Rev. David Kile, pastor
How do we worship at Seattle First Baptist?
Our primary meeting as a community is our 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning service and includes the important elements of praying, preaching, and singing together each week. Opportunities to become involved in worship life include ushering, greeting, coffee hour and several musical groups. Our large Sanctuary Choir sings every Sunday in worship and presents several concerts/worship events each year.
You may find American Baptists challenging
We do not recite or believe in a defined creed
We enjoy these freedoms
- to create our own relationship with God
- to interpret scripture in our own way
- to be "priests" to one another without a mediator
- to have no hierarchy over our local congregation
Therefore, we each accept responsibility for our spiritual journey by following the way of Jesus Christ through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, articulating our faith and sharing our understandings along the way
We practice voluntary faith commitment. No one can require faith or a kind of faith from you. You can enter into it only by your own volition.
We admit we do not have all the answers, especially for you, and we enjoy engaging the questions together. Our dialogue builds our faith.
A creed does not provide all the answers. We are comfortable with differing views of faith principles such as incarnation, evangelism, and holiness, because we enjoy the freedom to come to our own interpretations of these principles ourselves.
Formal Christian creeds (Lutheran, Episcopalian, Roman Catholic) assume agreement on their faith tenets, although many members of those denominations would have individual interpretations of them, too. We enjoy exploring such beliefs together in our learning community. Since a creed provides "answers," without it we are considered a "free church."
We are all spiritual beings. We become whole persons only by nurturing all of ourselves, including our spiritual dimension. But each of us finds that nurture in different ways, some in worship, at prayer, walking the labyrinth, serving on a board or task force, helping out. If you are a seeker, you will be at home here.
We are called to become the whole person God created us to be. This is a safe community in which to ask questions, try something new, join a small group, participate in a retreat, work on a commission, walk the labyrinth, and enter more fully into the whole life of faith.
Perhaps this openness and freedom appeals to you... We invite you to meet with one of our pastors, some of our members, and participate in our Sunday morning and Wednesday evening activities and worship to see where you feel most comfortable.
FAQs about Seattle First Baptist Church
Who are the Baptists? Baptists are the second largest religious group in the US after Roman Catholics. The largest protestant denomination is the Southern Baptist Convention, which left relationship with us over the issue of slavery in the 1860s. There are dozens of different Baptist denominations, most more conservative than we are.
What do Baptists believe? Our common principles are autonomy of the local congregation, believer's baptism (we do not baptize infants), the centrality of the Bible in our preaching and teaching, the freedom to interpret scripture individually as we dialogue within and without our congregation, the freedom to choose what to believe about God, the freedom to have a relationship with God without a mediator (or priest), and the observance of the Lord's Supper and believer's immersion. We also believe in religious freedom and separation of church and state.
Who Are American Baptists? After the Baptists (who wanted to retain the institution of slavery) left us in 1845, we existed as a group of Mission Societies and a triennial convention until 1907, when we named ourselves Northern Baptists. We renamed ourselves the American Baptist Convention in 1950 and the American Baptist Churches, to reclaim our status as associational, and not hierarchical, in the 1970s.
What does Seattle First Baptist Church believe? We embrace soul freedom, scriptural freedom, church autonomy, and religious liberty, and emphasize your responsibility to undertake your own spiritual journey. We believe God has created you with special gifts, and would like you to develop them and find meaning by offering them within or outside of the church. This is your response to God's call in your life. We have ordained pastors, but all our members are our ministers. We observe the Lord's Supper on the first Sunday of every month, and we baptize those who make a decision to follow the way of Jesus Christ by full immersion.
Where did Baptists Come from? Some trace our roots to the Anabaptists (re-baptizers) of Central Europe. Most trace our roots to the English Reformation, the Puritans, Separatists, and Baptists in England and Holland.
Who Are Some of our Founders and Leaders? John Smyth escaped persecution of the Puritans in Massachusetts to found the First Baptist Church of America in Providence, Rhode Island. He established that the Rhode Island Colony would be the first outpost of religious liberty on the continent. Baptists spread rapidly during the Great Awakening, a revival beginning in 1726 continuing through the middle 1700s.
William Carey began the missionary movement in England in 1793 by going to India. Ann and Adoniram Judson were sent to Burma by Massachusetts Congregationalists, but on their way, became Baptists. Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) was the father of the social gospel (Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907). Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American Baptist.
What affiliations do we have? We are part of the Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches centered in Metropolitan Seattle with outlying churches stretching from Alaska to the San Francisco Bay Area and Utah. All of us also belong to the American Baptist Churches USA whose headquarters are in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Biennial national gatherings are held in odd-numbered years: this year (2009) in Pasadena.
What does this church value? We value the individual spiritual journey, challenging and insightful preaching, discussion and study together, and prayerful and joyful worship. We value an intergenerational membership from newborns to nonagenarians, and include the full range of ages in our several retreats. We are an open and affirming church for all persons regardless of their sexual orientation, education, status, or life circumstance. We have been marrying same sex couples for thirty years. We publicly advocate for peace and justice in Seattle and throughout the world. We have jazz concerts, labyrinth walks, women's meetings, a well-equipped nursery for infants, a wide variety of classes for children, youth and adults. We continue to grow in all the ways the diverse membership here leads us to grow.
How do we survive financially? It is your choice to determine how much and how often to contribute to our annual operating budget. We take an offering every Sunday and campaign in the fall for funds to be pledged to the next year's budget. Scripture encourages tithing, giving a tenth of one's income to your church and/or other worthy causes. But we encourage proportionate giving that is appropriate to all your financial needs. Every amount helps.
There are four American Baptist Mission Offerings each year: Ministers and Missionaries Love Offering (for retired pastors and missionaries), American for Christ Offering (divided equally among Evergreen Association, National Ministries and International Ministries), One Great Hour of Sharing (emergency disaster relief and development), and World Mission Offering (for International Ministries). Special envelopes are provided for each.
How do I join this church? Anyone who wants to follow the way of Jesus Christ may walk forward during our commitment hymn at the close of worship and indicate their interest in becoming a member here. You may also meet with a membership representative in the Hintz Chapel directly behind the sanctuary after church to express this desire and begin to get acquainted.
If you are a baptized member of a faith tradition that follows Jesus but in a different Christian denomination, we will accept your original baptism after some further dialogue about your faith story. We will ask for a letter of transfer from your former church, but often we accept your word. No further baptism is required.
You may request to be baptized if you desire. If you haven't been baptized (as an infant or youth or adult) we will joyfully lead you through the waters of baptism in our sanctuary during morning worship. Meetings with a pastor are recommended.
All new members are officially received by the congregation by our Hand of Fellowship during morning worship. A sponsor will be assigned who introduces you to the congregation. You will be given a certificate of membership to keep.