American Baptists are 1.6 million Christians who worship in more than 5800 congregations in the United States and Puerto Rico. One of about 25 Baptist groups in the US, we are about fourth in size among them. We are rich in our variety and we come from all backgrounds. We are quite individualistic which can lead to some disagreements in the political, social, and theological positions we hold, but we enjoy our differences and discussing them. We are also a member of The American Baptist Churches of Massachusets, a local reagion of ABC.Most of us agree on the matters we think are really important:
WE CONFESS JESUS CHRIST as the son of the Living God, our Lord and Savior. We are joyously united in our common task of sharing the whole Gospel with the whole world.
WE BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE as the divinely inspired record of God's actions in history, and we believe it is a trustworthy, authoritative, and all-sufficient rule of faith and practice.
WE BELIEVE that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and we believe Jesus died to save us from our sins. Those of us who believe this are forgiven by God and enter into a new life.
WE OBSERVE two ordinances: WE BAPTIZE believers by immersion. We regard "believer's baptism" as a symbol of death to the old life, and resurrections to a new life in Christ. WE CELEBRATE the Lord's Supper (or Holy Communion) in memory of the sufferings of Christ. Most American Baptists practice "open Communion," and invite all believers to participate in this celebration.
FINALLY, WE BELIEVE that all American Baptists, laity and clergy, are called together to be a family of disciples; witnessing at home and throughout the world to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and calling upon all to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God.
Ten Key Facts about American Baptists
- We are a biblically oriented people.
- We are a missionary and evangelically minded people.
- We believe in and practice the baptism of believers.
- Organizationally, the early Baptist congregations arose in the context of separitist, congregationally structured groups of English Puritanism.
- We continue to emphasize that the local congregation is the basic manifestation of the church.
- Very early in Baptist history the emphasis on congregational polity was balanced by devotion to the associational principle.
- Consistent with our whole heritage, American Baptists have emphasized the importance of religious freedom, not only for ourselves but for all people.
- The American Baptist Church has historically been active in the ecumenical movement and is a founding member of both the National Council of Churches of Christ and the World Council of Churches.
- In keeping with our dissenting roots, our tradition has found a place for persons and groups to take a stand on issues that often have been highly controversial.
- The patterns of our history have today woven together to give to the American Baptist Churches the gift of a great diversity of race, culture, class, and theology.