By definition, Baptist churches are organized as locally autonomous congregations. Under the lordship of Christ, the seat of our day-to-day governance rests with each gathered congregation and is not centralized or hierarchical, as found in other, sibling Christian traditions.
When at our Baptist best, we emphasize direct spiritual responsibility to one another, rather than a denominational headquarters or set of outside authorities. We also seek to remember that we are called to live as a particular community of faith, rather than a mere collection of individuals. In Baptist theology, we are all priests, one to another.
As proud Virginia Baptists, we freely partner with larger Baptist associations in order to engage in a wider fellowship of disciples who are worshiping and serving locally and globally. We believe that we can follow Jesus best when we join alongside other Christians beyond our local congregation.
Our commitment to authentic Baptist principles, such as local church autonomy and the priesthood of all believers, allows us to share our God-given resources more fully without fear of becoming controlled by outside groups with which we may partner. While Baptist associations may choose to vary with one another over particular issues, the Virginia Baptist tradition of freedom within our congregation has long accomodated a variety of avenues through which our members may support and participate in God’s work in the world.
Such avenues include the following Baptist groups with which we are constitutionally affiliated in ministry and mission:
Frequently Asked “Baptist” Questions:
Are we the kind of Baptists who affirm women in leadership?
Yes, we have and are proud of our women deacons and ministers. We have ordained women to ministry. We have called a pastor who is happily married to the pastor of a Methodist congregation in our area.
What Bible translation do we use?
Folks are free to choose their own – or better yet, more than one! Reading in worship is typically from the NRSV, but not exclusively.
Are you “fundamental” and/or “independent” Baptists?
No. While we celebrate the freedom to welcome people of many theological perspectives, we are not a “fundamental” and/or “independent” Baptist church. Effective mission work requires cooperation with others and faith is complex. We try to work on the difficult parts together, seek grace, and collaborate with Baptists as well as other kinds of churches.
Pleasants, Phyllis Rodgerson. Freedom for the Journey.
Leonard, Bill J. Baptist Ways, A History.
Vestal, Daniel. Why I Am Baptist.