The First Baptist Church of Redlands exists to glorify God and help people discover God's best in Christ.
Our mission is to share with our families, neighbors and friends the love of God made real to us in Jesus Christ and to be a vital force for divine goodness, truth, and mercy in our community and around the world. This is the mission we strive to embody in our church's programs and express in our daily lives.
Our mission is grounded in Holy Scripture, renewed in worship, encouraged in fellowship, enriched in diversity, strengthened in unity, expressed in service, and fulfilled in Love.
As a congregation and as individuals, The First Baptist Church of Redlands seeks to express the fullness of God's love in both word and deed. We do not claim to be perfect, but we believe that even in our imperfections, God's love and grace can make a difference in our lives and world. Jesus shares the good news that God accepts us where we are and helps us to grow and thrive as God's children. We do not believe that everyone needs to agree on every matter of faith and practice. Differences need not divide, but enrich, challenge, and affirm. We are united in our confidence that God desires to empower us in service as we commit ourselves to grow in Christ's love and grace.
That all people are created in the image of God for enjoying fully the goodness of life as they grow in love for God and neighbors near and far.
That in Jesus, God draws close to us, extending to us forgiveness, hope, renewal, and guidance.
That God's Holy Spirit is actively working in, through, among, and even in spite of us—transforming our lives and world.
That the Bible speaks to us today, helping us understand our need for God and God's gracious coming to us in Christ.
Who Are Baptists?
Baptists are people who take freedom very seriously and feel that everyone is responsible before God for the practice of their faith. Baptists come in all sorts of flavors. While some are very conservative or fundamentalist, many are very open and progressive in their faith and practice. For all Baptists, the Bible is the central source for understanding God's love and grace. Some people have the impression that all Baptists claim to interpret the Bible "literally" and believe that everyone who disagrees with them is wrong. There are many Baptists, however, who seek to understand the Bible through the use of historical and literary methods of interpretation and who recognize that a variety of interpretations are sometimes possible.
Baptists believe that the local congregation is free from any hierarchy and is responsible for its own mission and ministry. The pastors of Baptist churches, for instance, are not appointed by a religious hierarchy but are chosen by the local congregation. The local congregation elects their own officers, constructs their own budgets, and decides how best to follow God's leading in their local communities.
Baptist congregations, while being independent, freely cooperate with other churches in mission endeavors. The First Baptist Church of Redlands, for example, is a part of the America Baptist Churches, USA; the National Council of Churches; and the World Council of Churches. We believe that we can best serve across the globe as we join with others in mission.
While there are many different stereotypes of Baptists in people's minds, Baptists represent one of the great streams of Protestant Christianity which has championed the ideal of freedom, believing that people can only fully offer themselves to God if they are truly free from compulsion or coercion. Baptists have historically defended religious liberty for all and the separation of church and state in matters of conscience. Baptists also reserve the rite of baptism for those people who decide of their own free will to follow Jesus. Baptists, therefore, practice what is called believer's baptism as opposed to infant baptism. Historically, this distinctive feature gave rise to the name "Baptist."
Many people who come to First Baptist Redlands have their stereotypes of Baptists broken and come to appreciate in a wonderful manner how the Baptist emphasis on freedom and responsibility empowers them to grow as a child of God.
Our Stance on Controversial Issues
Members of The First Baptist Church of Redlands like Christians elsewhere are not unanimous in their understanding of many social and personal issues. Several guiding principles therefore become important when considering controversial issues and the ministry of Christ's church.
a) All people are received into the membership of The First Baptist Church of Redlands on the basis of their confession of faith in Christ and their commitment to support the ministry God has given us as a congregation both locally and globally.
b) Members of this congregation struggle with a number of personal and spiritual issues, and we humbly acknowledge that we all fall short of God's glory and are dependent on God's grace in every area of life.
c) We all are challenged to study the scriptures using the best knowledge and interpretive principles available to us as we follow the leading of the Spirit, upholding as a congregation the historic Baptist principle of soul liberty in matters of faith and practice.
d) The mission and ministry God has given our congregation is greater than any one issue. We must not allow the divisiveness of this age to divide the church, but (as Jesus teaches) trust God to separate the wheat from the tares (Matthew 13:24-30).
e) The ministry of Jesus stretches us beyond our comfort zones as we reach out into our community. We must, therefore, guard our hearts against prejudices and false stereotypes cast upon minorities in our society and instead base our perspectives on convictions that build community and trust.
f) Everyone is to be treated with the respect due one for whom Christ has died. No one is to be abused or harmed by either words or actions. Disparaging remarks, unkind comments, and abusive behavior have no place in the body of Christ.
g) When considering leadership openings all character issues are relevant and may be taken into account in any and every situation.
On November 13, 1887, with thirteen members, The First Baptist Church of Redlands was organized. The rest, one could say, is history, but it is more than simply the chronology of events. Generations of men, women, and children have participated in and contributed to the growth and vitality of the church’s mission and ministry. Their stories reveal the power of God's grace to transform and renew. We do not take the heritage we share as a congregation lightly. This legacy not only encourages us to be good stewards of what we have received, but to see what we do today as the foundation on which future generations will build. First Baptist is a growing faith community that stretches back through the decades and reaches out into a future filled with great hope and expectation.
Since 1887, The First Baptist Church of Redlands has been a beacon of hope and renewal for people across the East Valley and beyond. Known through the years for our strong local ministries, First Baptist seeks to be a responsible partner with people all across the globe. In recent years, this commitment to the local community and the world has been demonstrated by the creation of the Mustard Seed Tutorial Center in Redlands and by a partnership with a church and school in La Concepcion, Nicaragua, sponsoring dental and work teams to serve in this impoverished community.
The First Baptist Church of Redlands was instrumental in the creation of the Christian Counseling Service of Redlands, the building of Casa de la Vista retirement community, and the founding of the University of Redlands. Newton Fields, the first President of the University, was, in fact, the pastor of First Baptist. Today, the church is committed to an embracing, holistic, global ministry. Our goal is to invite and challenge people to grow in faith, hope, and love—discovering God's best in Christ. As stated in the church's mission statement, First Baptist is committed to sharpening the mind, widening the heart, and deepening the spirit as it invites people to connect, grow and serve together.
The First Baptist Church of Redlands blends the traditional and the contemporary. The deep roots of its tradition allow First Baptist to experiment with the new yet have a profound respect for the old with an openness of meeting today’s needs.