What makes us a Baptist Church?
Baptists are distinguished by the way we mark the beginning of faith. When a person believes in Jesus, and commits to living as a Christian, they are baptised by immersion. After explaining WHY they believe, and what God has done in their lives, they are (briefly!) submerged under water in the same way Jesus was baptised - just as described in Mark’s Gospel (Chapter 1 v9-11)
Another characteristic is our "congregational government" which simply means that all the members have the privilege and responsibility of being involved in making the decisions about our life and work together. All Christians who have committed themselves to this local group can be part of the process of seeking God's purpose for us, and then help to work it out practically.
Every local Baptist church is independent, although linked to other Baptist churches and other Christian traditions. We are self-governing, but have a national partnership to advise and help us: and we are supported financially by the giving of the local membership.
Baptists have good links with other Christian churches in the area. We work together and believe that it is important to demonstrate love and respect towards others. The things that draw Christians closer are stronger than the things that have kept us apart. We believe in co-operation not competition.
Click on this link to the Old Baptist Union website which includes the full Articles of Faith that we believe.
A Baptist Church is made up of people who have stories about their encounters with God.
Some stories centre round sudden or dramatic moments of crisis. Life is not always easy, and experiences can drag us down. God intervenes in many different ways. In response to a revelation of God’s love and forgiveness, lives get turned round. The Bible speaks of “repentance” which is a word that means to change our mind and the direction of our life.
Others may not be able to put a time or date on the moments they realised they were Christians. They have grown gradually into faith.
My story is somewhere between the two. Church was part of family life when I was growing up in Sussex, and my parents talked about their belief in Jesus- and perhaps even more importantly demonstrated that faith was not only true but made a real difference.
When I was twelve, there was a special event one weekend and a visiting speaker gave a challenge. Although I didn’t really understand everything, I knew that God loves me and that I wanted to follow Jesus. Over the next few years the influence of other believers and some very special experiences made my faith become even more real. I am still learning, and I’m still far from perfect- but I know that God is able to finish the process that has been started in my life. Church has become a real community, a family of faith.
I am accepted and loved, and want to share that experience of new life wherever I can.
- Richard Starling.