Becoming a member of First Baptist Church has been described as a “life-changing event.” We are told that we are an especially friendly and welcoming church and we certainly aim for that. Membership is like becoming part of a large, extended family of people we might never have met outside the church, but whom we come to value and care for as our own. We truly care for the spiritual and emotional needs of each other and help each other in practical ways. While members and non-members alike are always welcome to a place in our worship and service, as a member, you become eligible to vote on important issues that affect the church and you become eligible to be part of our organizational boards and committees. You feel an extra bond of commitment with a wonderful group of people who worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. These people become your “church family.”
If you have attended one or more of our services and would like to be considered for membership, we would encourage you to speak with Rev. Karen Mendes or any member of the Diaconate Board. The Pastor holds classes on the “Meaning of Church membership in this American Baptist Church” periodically for all interested persons. Anyone is welcome whether or not ready to make a decision about membership, whether not already a member. It’s a great way to learn more and share questions and answers with others.
A person may join First Baptist Church by “transfer of letter” from another Christian church, “profession of faith” whereby you share your personal affirmation of faith with the Diaconate, or by Believer’s Baptism (by total immersion and available to those of sufficient age and understanding to decide on this step for themselves). The Diaconate recommends to the church the names of new members and there is a time in a service to mark this occasion.
How We’re Organized
First Baptist Church has four “major boards” which make decisions about how we conduct much of the work of the church. These are the Board of Trustees, The Diaconate Board, The Mission Outreach Board and the Board of Christian Education. The Trustees oversee and maintain the real property belonging to the church, the Church Building and contents and a rental property next door at 139 Bank St. Under their purview there is also a Finance Committee, Property Committee and an Investment Committee called the Trustees of the Permanent Funds. The Diaconate oversees welcoming, congregational care, spiritual matters, new members and carry out the ordinances of the church (The Lord’s Supper once per month and Believer’s Baptism). The Board of Christian Education oversees educational and faith-building activities for all age groups. See their page for more details. The Mission Outreach Board educates the congregation on missionary work and service projects locally and globally. They administer the Mission pledges. See their page for more details. The governance is outlined in more detail in the Church Bylaws.
In addition to these boards, there are committees to oversee the Music program. See their page for more details. There are committees for Public Relations, Staff Relations, and Strategic Planning. An Advisory Council made up of the chair persons of the four major boards, Music Committee, Staff Relations, the Pastor and certain officers of the church, discuss church-wide matters and coordinate the schedule of programs. Any matters requiring congregational action pass through the Advisory Council for study and a recommendation first. The Pastor is involved with all these groups, providing theological context and practical guidance, but our decisions are taken collaboratively and always seek to represent the congregation in good Baptist fashion. God, through his Son Jesus Christ, is the head of this church and we continually seek to follow that lead and do His will. Currently the Strategic Planning Committee is guiding the church through a consideration of governance structures which might work more efficiently for us and focus our efforts more on the work of the church rather than purely administrative activities. At the moment, however, the above paragraphs describe how we are currently governed.
First Baptist Church is a member of the American Baptist Churches USA. We are centrally located in beautiful downtown Burlington, Vermont. There is ample free parking. Our building is fully handicapped accessible. A modern elevator connects all four floors of the building.
First Baptist Church is located at 81 St. Paul Street, which runs parallel to the Church Street Market Place in down town Burlington. See link to map.
Church Office Hours
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday – 9-1 Thursday – 9-3
Programs and Activities
We celebrate our Children, Youth and Adults, by offering Christian Education Classes that guide them in their Spiritual Growth. First Baptist Church offers a full K-12 Sunday morning curriculum.
Music is very important to us at FBC. The Chancel Choir regularly takes part in the Sunday Morning Worship Service. Children’s choir is part of the Sunday morning curriculum and they often take part in morning worship. The Instrumental Ensemble offers those who enjoy playing an instrument in a relaxed atmosphere the opportunity to contribute to diversity in the Sunday morning worship by playing occasionally. The Keenan Hand-Bell Choir offers adults, young and old, the opportunity to participate in a special musical offering. The Church also houses an historic 1864 E. G. G. Hook (Boston) tracker organ, restored in 1996. It is a sought after recital instrument, in addition to its role in worship.
We offer gatherings for Seniors, American Baptist Women’s (ABW) ministries, and Youth Groups and activities.
Some of our service activities include: Support for BURLINGTON FOOD SHELF Service at the SALVATION ARMY FRIENDLY KITCHEN GREEN STEEPLE CAFE – First Night meal at FBC
Parking for Sunday morning worship is provided in three locations: 1) Handicapped parking is located at the back of the church. The entrance is from Pine Street through our driveway just north of Vermont Federal Credit Union. 2) The main parking lot is immediately south of the church on St Paul Street. Entry is through the “tunnel” into the lot. 3) Alternate parking is directly across the street from the church entrance on St. Paul Street in the public parking garage. Upon exiting the garage, tell the attendant you went to Sunday service at FBC and there will be no charge.