Our story is dynamic and ongoing. We are always changing, sometimes in large, startling ways, sometimes in minuscule increments. The nature of being a church is to change, finding new ways to follow Jesus and inviting diverse ideas, practices and people into our church life.
The First Baptist Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, celebrated its 200th Anniversary in 2012. The church was founded in 1812 to provide a witness in Worcester and beyond for the “Free Church Tradition,” originally begun in England and then spread to this country largely by the influence of Baptists, but also including others. It was the third church to be established in Worcester.
The First Baptist Church was a pioneer in education under the leadership of Dr. Jonathan Going, pastor from 1815 until 1832. The first Sunday School in Worcester was founded in the church, and Dr. Going played significant roles in the founding of Worcester Academy, Newton Theological Institution, Amherst College, and Granville (Ohio) College. He would later become Corresponding Secretary of the Baptist Home Mission Society, influencing The First Baptist Church to be a national leader in mission work. In a rapidly-growing city, the church sponsored missions, including Third Baptist Church on the corner of Main and Herman Streets. Early in the 20th century they reunited and built a beautiful edifice on Ionic Avenue pictured here.
The 20th century prosperity of the church was highlighted by the leadership of strong laity and remarkable ministers such as Thomas S. Roy, Gordon M. Torgersen, and Michael Scrogins. Following a fire that destroyed the Ionic Avenue building in 1937, the church rebuilt on the corner of Park Avenue and Salisbury Street and shared in the expansion of membership characteristic of Protestant churches throughout America after World War II.
Likewise, the church experienced the unrest and political turmoil characteristic of the 1960’s, yet it remained strong. The church entered the 21st century poised for new growth and a renewal of its creative energy to engage a new century with the old but always pertinent gospel of Christ.
Thus, today we celebrate over two centuries of faithful witness, innovative programming, and courageous leadership provided by the First Baptist Church in Worcester. We celebrate the important contributions this church has made locally, nationally and worldwide. Few other Baptist churches in New England have given such inspired leadership to the Baptist faith and to the larger Christian community.
First Baptist is broadly ecumenical and open in its membership, welcoming all God’s people into our congregation. Our members, who have come from a variety of faith traditions, find in First Baptist a place where all may serve Christ together. We appreciate the uniqueness of, and strive to include, everyone into the full life of First Baptist Church.
The life of First Baptist reflects the influence of the diverse backgrounds of our members. Worship is held in high regard and each gathering reflects the integrity of thorough preparation and sincere dedication to the principle of honoring God with the very best that we have to give. The ministry of music holds a very special place in the hearts of our congregation and in our worships services.
We believe worship is intended to be a time for spiritual reflection and gifted expression. It is a time for discerning God’s word and direction in the midst of the contemporary complexities of our world. The pulpit stands at the heart of our worship in keeping with the historic Protestant approach to honoring the Word, while the traditional Baptist freedoms of Pulpit and Pew continue to be guarded and cherished.
The gathered community, celebrating the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit…this is how we understand our call.