What Baptists believe
This statement is taken from the website of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and gives a good idea of the beliefs and practices that bind us together.
The Lordship of Christ Baptists affirm that ‘Jesus is Lord’. He is Lord over our individual lives, the life of each church, and the life of the whole world.
The authority of the Bible The Bible is described as the ‘Word of God’ because Baptists believe that its writers were inspired by God’s Spirit. As such, it has authority to guide both what we believe and how we live our lives
A Believers Church Baptists understand the church as a community of believers gathered in the name of Jesus Christ for worship, witness and service. There is no set Baptist liturgy. Each local church and community is free to determine its own pattern, though prayer and praise, listening and reflecting on scripture, and sharing Holy Communion will always be central.
Baptism for Believers From the example of the New Testament, Baptists claim that baptism is for those who believe and are able to declare that Jesus is Lord. As a symbol of Jesus’ claim on our lives, baptism by immersion is practised, representing a desire to die to self and to live for Christ.
Church members and church meetings When a person is baptised in a Baptist church, they normally become a church member. Church members are called to prayerfully discern God’s will for their shared life. Final authority does not rest with the ministers, deacons or any other local, national or international body, but with the members meeting together under God’s guidance. Church meetings will make significant appointments including ministers, and agree financial policy and mission.
The priesthood of all believers Baptists believe that everyone that attends a Baptist church has a role to play and can use their God-given skills and talents for the good of the church and the community. These gifts include teaching, evangelism, social action, pastoral care, prayer, healing, taking part in worship, administration or hospitality
Sharing the faith Baptists believe that each Christian has a duty to share their faith with others. We recognise that mission is not just evangelism, but also includes promoting justice, social welfare, healing, education and peace in the world.
Interdependence Baptists believe that churches should not live in isolation from one another but rather be inter-dependent. Our Baptist churches are linked regionally, nationally and internationally for support and fellowship. See also Baptist Family.
Religious Freedom Religious freedom for all has always been a keystone of Baptist understanding. Acceptance of differences of outlook and diversity of practice is encouraged within Baptist churches, as well as in our wider world.
Our Baptist Links
We express our beliefs in the inter-dependence of local churches by “associating” with other churches in our area. We do this through the Heart of England Association.
At a national level we belong to the Baptist Union of Great Britain, which provides a range of support services and represents us in national forums and debates.
We support Baptist World Mission, which is an overseas mission agency working in many difficult and challenging parts of the world on behalf of Baptists across the United Kingdom.
We have particular links with personnel in Albania, North Africa and Kosova.
How we organise ourselves
We encourage those who worship regularly with us and who seek to follow Christ as his disciples to enter into membership. At present we have about 80 members.
The focus of our self-governance is the Church Meeting, to which everyone who worships is welcome, whether or not they are members. We meet once every two months. Although we do conduct “business” in these meetings (such as dealing with financial matters), we do not see our church meetings primarily as “business meetings” but rather the place where we can meet and share together – and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit seek to discern the mind of Christ for our work and witness.
A small group of elected Deacons together provide leadership for the church and also act in a legal sense as trustees of the church, which is a registered charity.
Our Minister chairs both Church Meetings and the meetings of the Deacons.
In terms of finance, we are self-sustaining. We do not receive grants from any central church or government body and rely on gifts from those who are members and those who attend worship. We seek to give a proportion of our giving to other Christian and needy causes.