Who we areFirst Baptist Church has been worshiping in and serving Niagara Falls and the Niagara Region since 1842, and is a member of the American Baptist Churches in the USA. In our long history in Niagara Falls we have been known as a church that is welcoming, open, and active in its faith.
In keeping true to our American Baptist heritage, we are a church and congregation with an open mind and heart that believes the Bible is a Living Word of God and that the Bible always speaks with a new voice to the issues facing our current times. We are a people who believe that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church and is revealed to us through the Bible. We also affirm the right and responsibility of individuals to interpret Scripture as individuals within the community of faith, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In historical Baptist terms, this means we hold to the Baptist principles of Soul Freedom, Religious Liberty, and the Autonomy of the Local Church. In practical terms this means we expect there to be a diversity of views in Biblical interpretation, theology, and religious practice in our church family. We find strength in this diversity and believe that our faith in God grows more deeply because we embrace it.
First Baptist Church is a downtown church maintaining an ongoing Christian presence with historical roots. Our membership is made up of committed and faithful believers that have a hopeful vision for the future. We worship in a traditional style with our wonderful organ; maintain our presence in the arts community with our "Gift of Music" concert series; work to increase our cooperation with other churches; expand our deep commitment to missions; and reach out to witness to the community in many ways.
Along with these endeavors, we have several church programs that are ongoing and faith-affirming. We invite you to join with us as we grow through seeking Gods will, and by creating a new vision for our church in the Niagara Falls community. If you are looking for a church home where you can become involved or simply wish to visit with us and join in a time of worship, you are always welcome!
Who are the Baptists?
United States of America and Canada
The first Baptist churches in America were in the New England colonies, to which many Puritans had emigrated. Soon after arriving in Boston in 1631, Puritan minister Roger Williams adopted Separatist views. Forced to leave Massachusetts Bay, he founded the colony of Providence (present-day Rhode Island) in 1636 with complete freedom in religious matters. Two years later, he was baptized and formed the first Baptist church in America but remained a Baptist pastor for only a short time. He is chiefly remembered for his stirring writings on religious liberty.
Shortly afterwards, Dr. John Clarke left Boston for Rhode Island, where he joined Williams in the struggle for religious freedom. He established a congregation that was clearly Baptist in doctrine and polity. In 1651, Baptist Obadiah Holmes was publicly whipped in Boston for participating with Clarke in a home prayer meeting, and Henry Dunster, the second president of Harvard College (now University), lost his job in 1654 for affirming believers baptism. A Baptist church was formed in Boston in 1665. Its members were persecuted for several years; they drafted the first Baptist confession of faith in the American colonies.
By the 1690s, congregations existed in South Carolina and Pennsylvania. Aided by the enthusiasm flowing from the first Great Awakening, the revival that swept the colonies in the mid-eighteenth century, Baptists soon became more numerous. The Philadelphia Association was formed in 1707, the Charleston in 1751, and others in New England, the Middle Colonies, and the South. In 1781, the first church west of the Appalachian Mountains was organized in Kentucky. Eighteenth-century Baptists were diverse; the main groups were the Regular Baptists, the General or Free Will Baptists, the revivalistic Separate Baptists, and the Seventh-Day Baptists.
Although some Baptists had misgivings about the War for American Independence (17751783), most saw it as a war for freedom, which for them meant religious freedom.
Isaac Backus, originally a New Light Congregationalist minister, was converted in the Great Awakening and became a leader of the newly emerging Separate Baptists. He wrote pamphlets criticizing taxation for religious purposes and affirming liberty of conscience. The Warren Baptist Association in Massachusetts sent him to the First Continental Congress in 1774 to argue the case for ending religious establishments; and when the War for American Independence broke out, he supported the American cause. As Backus later said, he and his brethren fought on two fronts: against British troops for civil liberty and against Massachusetts legislators for religious liberty. He helped to secure his states ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, but religious liberty was not achieved until 1833 when Massachusetts gave up its religious establishment.
In colonial Virginia, Baptists were frequently jailed for preaching, and they lobbied the legislature for religious liberty. The grievances of this heretical sect were ignored until their support for the War for American Independence, and their request to send chaplains for the soldiers helped to change the publics perception of them. They also formed a coalition with Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and others who also wished to disestablish the Church of England (now becoming the Protestant Episcopal Church), and they achieved that in Virginia through the Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786).
Later, Virginia Baptists, led by John Leland and others, persuaded Madison to include a firm guarantee of religious liberty in the amendments to the U.S. Constitution known as the Bill of Rights. Hence, the First Amendment opens as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
After becoming president of the United States, Jefferson clarified the meaning of this statement in response to a request from the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Association, which had been unable to persuade its state legislature to end the Congregationalist establishment there and had asked the president for his opinion. Jefferson replied in a letter (1802) to them that religion is a matter between man and God and that government has no power to regulate such matters. The First Amendment built a wall of separation between church and state.
Many regard this principle as the new nations greatest contribution to civilization. It clearly opened the way for unparalleled Baptist growth in the United States. Unlike Britain, where Baptists consumed much of their energy in combating discriminatory laws preventing involvement in public life and requiring monetary support of Anglican parishes, and unlike other European countries in which the official churches persecuted Baptists, Americans were unhindered in following Gods call to preach the gospel. The separation of church and state enabled them to evangelize freely.
From Britain and the United States, the Baptist message was carried to the British settlement colonies, continental Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The first churches in Canada were planted in Nova Scotia in the 1760s, and the Great Awakening in the Atlantic provinces fostered the spread of Baptist teachings. Also, some black Baptists moved northward and formed churches. Scottish Baptists and U.S. missionaries founded churches in Ontario and Quebec, but within a few years the Canadians themselves were spreading the gospel across their vast country. Regionalism, missionary work within Canada, and immigration from Europe all contributed to the complexity of Canadian Baptist development. A network of Baptist denominations grew up over the years, the largest of which are the Canadian Baptist Federation (now Canadian Baptist Ministries) and the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.
From: We Baptists by Study and Research Division, Baptist World Alliance, (Franklin Tn, Providence House Pub., 1999) pp 4-6, 10.
10 More Facts You Should Know About American Baptists
The 1.5-million members and over 5,200 congregations of American Baptist Churches USA share with more than 42 million Baptists around the world a common tradition begun in the early 17th century. That tradition has emphasized the Lordship and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, believers' baptism, the competency of all believers to be in direct relationship with God and to interpret Scripture, the importance of the local church, the assurance of freedom in worship and opinion, and the need to be Christ's witnesses within society.
The following facts are representative of the tradition and practice of American Baptists.
1 American Baptists believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God that serves as the final written authority for living out the Christian faith. American Baptists celebrate the fact that belief in Jesus Christ assures salvation and eternal fellowship with a loving God. The events of the first Easter week are the cornerstones of our faith: the death of Christ, in which He took upon Himself the sin of the world, and the Resurrection, which gave proof of His triumph over sin and death. Holy Scripture always has been for American Baptists the authoritative and trustworthy guide for knowing and serving the God who is revealed as Creator, Savior and Advocate.
2 For American Baptists the local church is the fundamental unit of mission in denominational life. Baptist roots date back four centuries to a people seeking the opportunity to worship God as individual members of freely organized and freely functioning local churches. Baptists always have maintained the need for autonomous congregations, responsible for articulating their own doctrine, style of worship and mission.
3 American Baptists partake of two ordinances: believers' baptism and The Lord's Supper. Baptism, an act of full immersion following Christ's example, is undertaken by those spiritually mature enough to understand its profound, symbolic significance: resurrection to new life in Christ. Through The Lord's Supper, or Holy Communion, the bread and cup that symbolize the broken body and shed blood offered by Christ recall God's great love for us-just as they did for the disciples on the eve of Christ's crucifixion.
4 American Baptists believe that the committed individual Christian can and should approach God directly, and that individual gifts of ministry should be shared. American Baptists hold that all who truly seek God are both competent and called to develop in that relationship. They have rejected creeds or other statements that might compromise each believer's obligation to interpret Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and within the community of faith. American Baptists also celebrate the special gifts of all believers, testifying that God can use each of us in ministry.
5 American Baptists take seriously the call to evangelism and missionary work. American Baptist worldwide mission work is a response to Christ's call to "make disciples of all nations." Through the efforts of our missionaries in partnership with others, ministries of evangelism, healing, education and development have made Christ's love known in the U.S. and around the world.
6 American Baptists support religious freedom and respect the expressions of faith of others. As a people whose forbears came together in response to intolerance, American Baptists have cherished freedom and pursued it for millions around the world. Manifestations of that ideal include supporting separation of church and state, advocating for people everywhere to be guaranteed the right to worship free from discrimination, and lifting up respectful dialog as a healthy means to understanding.
7 American Baptists acknowledge that God's family extends beyond our local churches, and that God calls us to cooperative ministries. Early Baptists saw that the effectiveness of their ministries would be greater through cooperation with other believers. Today within our American Baptist regions, churches work with each other and with denominational staff and in local and regional ecumenical arenas to increase the vitality and scope of their ministries. That outreach extends worldwide through our relationships with the Baptist World Alliance, the National Council of the Churches of Christ, the World Council of Churches and other groups.
8 American Baptists have been called to be Christ's witnesses for justice and wholeness within a broken society. American Baptists have been led by the Gospel mandates to promote holistic change within society, as witnessed by their advocacy of freed African Americans following the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, women in church and societal leadership, ecological responsibility, and many other issues. While not all of one mind as to how to deal with challenges, American Baptists do affirm the need to follow Christ's example by being actively involved in changing society.
9 American Baptist Churches USA celebrates the racial, cultural and theological diversity witnessed within its membership. American Baptist Churches USA today is the most racially inclusive Protestant body. Represented in our churches are equally diverse worship styles, cultural mores and approaches to Scriptural interpretation. The resulting challenges and opportunities have made us stronger - through fellowship, respect, mutual support and dialog, all based on a belief that unity in Christ involves growth and understanding.
10American Baptists heed the biblical call to renewal and the need for a vital witness in a new millennium. As people of faith, American Baptists seek renewal and revitalization. Informed by their history and tradition, motivated by contemporary needs and challenges, and strengthened by God's leading and the example and sacrifice of their Savior, American Baptists seek to bring a transforming witness to an uncharted future.
American Baptist Church USA Mission Statement
Born out of Seek It, a national survey conducted in 2004, The American Baptist Churches Mission Statement represents the cumulative voice of the denomination in defining exactly who we are.
(Approved by ABCUSA General Board, June 2005)
"American Baptists are a Christ-centered, biblically grounded, ethnically diverse people called to radical personal discipleship in Christ Jesus. Our commitment to Jesus propels us to nurture authentic relationships with one another; build healthy churches; transform our communities, our nations, and our world; engage every member in hands-on ministry; and speak the prophetic word in love.
"As a people of prayer, purpose, and passion, we are in the forefront of creating a community of faith where people of every race, nationality, and culture gather as one in worship, service, and work.
"The heart of the gospel is God's redemptive love. In our life together, the world will see the power of forgiveness to overcome alienation, the strength of love to transform hate, the power of grace to break the bonds of guilt, the triumph of hope over despair, and the victory of faith over doubt.
"Through the cross of Christ we embrace the world as neighbor. Our vision for mission energizes a multitude of servant ministries of evangelism, discipleship, leadership, new church development, social justice, healing, peacemaking, economic development, and education. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we work together in mutual trust, humility, love, and giving that the gospel might be preached and lived in all the world."
To Contact Us:
By Email: Church Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
On the Web: www.NiagaraFallsBaptist.org
First Baptist Church
554 Main Street
Niagara Falls, NY 14301
By Phone: 716-282-4666
Church Office Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00 AM - 12:00 Noon
To Contact our Directors of Music, James and Donna Flood:
By Email: email@example.com
By Mail: Mr./Mrs. James D. Flood
First Baptist Church
554 Main Street
Niagara Falls, NY 14301
We would love to hear from you!