People of Faith
We believe there is one God who exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe we are broken people, living in a broken world in need of salvation; that the Father sent his Son, Jesus the Christ, who is fully God and fully man, who died on the cross for our sins, experienced resurrection and that by God’s grace through faith we become the children of God. We believe the Holy Spirit is at work in the world today recreating us in God’s image through rebirth and surrender as we live by the Great Commandment, to love our God with all our heart, soul, body and mind, and the Second Great Commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves. In this we endeavor to fulfill the Great Commission of sharing the love of God by word, worship, and service.
Baptists are often called “people of the Book” because of our emphasis on the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice. No other writings are placed alongside the Bible with equal authority, and no single person has the right of final interpretation. We are not a creedal people but believe the Spirit of God enlightens the believer to self-discovery in light of the witness of the body of Christ.
Believer’s Baptism by Immersion
Followers of Jesus are commanded to follow Him in the waters of baptism. (Matthew 28:19). Baptist stress this is a personal decision and thus, extend baptism to those who are of age to express their personal desire for baptism. We believe the Greek word for baptism means to immerse and that Jesus experienced a baptism by immersion by John the Baptist (Mark 1:9). Thus, Baptist practice a full body baptism by immersion based upon a public profession of faith in Jesus. In this, it is both an act of faith and obedience, as well as a symbol of washing to make clean, identity in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and the mark of a new identity in Christ.
Sharing of Public Communion
In addition to public baptism, Communion is symbolic meal shared by the congregation on a regular basis (first Sunday of each month) to demonstrate ourselves as a family of God and for personal self-evaluation in our Christian pilgrimage. Sometimes called “The Lord’s Supper” it was given as the second ‘ordinances or commands to the church by our Lord. This command was given by Jesus at the Last Supper (Luke 22:14-23) with elements composing bread to represent the body of Jesus and wine to represent the blood of Jesus. The bread is broken and shared to be reminded of Jesus as the bread of life and the wine (we use grape juice) to represent the sacrifice of Jesus for us. We share this together as followers of Christ. (I Corinthians 11:23-26.)
Local Church Autonomy
Baptists hold precious personal responsibility and individual liberty. Therefore, under Christ as the head of the church, each congregation is self-governed. We establish own governing boards, call our own ministers, organize, and operate by the will of our membership which consists of those who have are committed to Jesus and the mission of the church. This is commonly called “congregational rule.” We freely associate our church with the oldest Baptist denomination in the United States, the American Baptist Churches of the United States of America (ABCUSA.). We do so to work with other like-minded churches in our region (Cleveland) and across our nation with about 5,000 other ABCUSA congregations.
Since our founding in 1832 as the First Baptist church in the city of Cleveland and the fourth established, FBCGC has been engaged in our community to both proclaim our faith in both word and action. Its earlier members included Harriet and John Malvin- freed slaves who worked with great effort to overturn the Ohio ‘black laws’ which prohibited education, fostered discrimination, and its segregated citizens. Our church supported the civil rights of the citizens of Cleveland of all races, people groups, and religious backgrounds.
We share our love for God by sharing in local and international ministries in many means from assisting with fresh produce distribution, support of medical missionaries, providing places for groups to gather to recover from additions, aid the homeless, hungry, and hurting. The Good News of the Gospel is both personal as we are called to trust in Jesus as our Savior, but also to share the good news with other as witness by our actions, in service, giving and sharing (Matthew 25). Jesus taught us, “they will know you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
Religious Liberty for All People
Baptists have long affirmed and defended the right of all people to adhere to the religion of their choice or to reject religious commitments altogether. Baptists believe that all people should be able to practice their faith without constraint and to spread their faith without hindrance.
Our Purpose & Mission
-Our Call As a body of Christ, First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland is driven to encourage and support people in their search for a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
-Our Response We carry out this purpose by answering Jesus’ call to love God, love and serve each other, and all people, and develop disciples.
-Our Identity First Baptist Church is scripturally inspired and led to be an accepting, multi-cultural, inclusive, and creative community of faith.