What are some of the distinctives of Second Baptist Church?
Our Mission Statement expresses much about our congregation: We seek to be “a loving community transformed by Christ for unbounded service.” A passionate love of God, a spirit of harmony and a commitment to excellence pervade the congregation. Although we were founded in 1820, Second Baptist is still a very healthy, growing congregation. One book author, who recently researched growing Virginia churches, described us as possibly “the youngest old church in Virginia.” We have a very rich tradition of lay-led entrepreneurial, missional ministries. We have been significant in the formation of many important Baptist institutions. We are strong in all age groups, have multiple ministries and very deep commitment from our members. In 1967 we relocated from downtown to the west end of Richmond, where we have been blessed with many new members and wonderful facilities. Although we are an historic, moderate Baptist church, over half of our members come from non-Baptist backgrounds and have found Second to be a great church home. Vision 2013, our five year vision plan, is being worked on constantly, and guides our annual planning.
How can I join Second Baptist Church?
You can join by one of four ways: a. Baptism – Publicly professing your faith in Christ as your Lord and Savior during a worship service. Then, following Jesus’ example (Matt. 3) and in obedience to his command (Matt. 28:19), being baptized by immersion. b. Transfer of Letter – Presenting yourself for membership during a worship service, having made a profession of faith and being a member of a sister Baptist congregation. c. Statement of Faith – Presenting yourself for membership during a worship service, coming from a church of another denomination, (or having no current active church membership), and being a professing Christian who has, at some time, been baptized by immersion, sprinkling, or pouring. d. Watchcare – Presenting yourself for membership during a worship service, being a professing Christian who has, at some time, been baptized by immersion, sprinkling, or pouring, and wishing to become a formal part of this church without transferring your membership from another church. Watchcare membership is offered to temporary residents (ex., college students) who wish to maintain their membership at their home church but who wish to affiliate with our church in a more formal way than as “visitor.” (Watchcare members may not be church officers or vote in church business meetings.) All new and prospective members are encouraged to participate in our New and Prospective Members Orientation Class, but this is not a requirement for membership. Prospective members will often talk with the pastor before joining.
How “big” is Second Baptist?
We have 2,100 members. We often have near 700 people in worship and in the 500’s in Sunday School. Our Budget is $1.7 million.
What is the doctrine of Second Baptist Church? Do you have a doctrinal statement?
Second is an historic Baptist congregation, with historic Baptist theology. Part of that theology affirms the Bible as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. “No creed but the Bible” has been a Baptist stance for over four hundred years. Because of this, we do not have a doctrinal statement. Although many Baptists have a doctrinal statement, our lack of one is consistent with the position of many other historic Baptists who had experienced persecution based on creedal non-conformity. We do have a Church Covenant, which we read together on the first Sunday of the year. Our Covenant is simply a compilation of New Testament texts on the nature and function of the church. According to our pastor: “Second’s doctrine is in the middle of the road of historic, moderate Baptists. Personally, I am comfortable with the theological approach of the ‘1963 Baptist Faith and Message Statement.’ However, our congregation has found no need of any such statement, and we have done just fine without one! We are a missional, evangelistic people, strongly committed to the priesthood of all believers. We affirm historic Baptist principles, such as: the final authority of scripture; a symbolic view of the two ordinances; the freedom and competency of the soul; congregational government; and religious liberty and its corollary, the separation of church and state. We fully affirm women in ministry and service in all capacities. We are both a ‘safe zone’ for those concerned about theological heresy and a ‘free zone’ for those concerned about their freedom of interpretation being honored.”
What are your worship services like?
We have two very similar hour long English language morning services (8:45 in the Chapel, 11:00 in the Sanctuary) and an English language contemporary service (“the Well”) at 8:45 in Spence Hall. The Chapel and Sanctuary services are “traditional Baptist” in style with scripture readings, hymns, organ and piano, special music and a choir (11:00 only). We have both liturgical and creative elements in these services. Our pastor preaches twenty minute biblically-based sermons, and normally wears a suit at 11:00, and a robe sometimes at 8:45. He preaches twice a month in both the Chapel and Well services. Other ministers and lay preachers preach the other services in the Chapel and the Well. Most participants for the traditional “dress up” for these services, and participants at the Well dress more casually, but all are welcome and comfortable, however they come. At the end of our services we always offer an invitation to Christian discipleship and church membership. We have Communion the first Sunday of the month in all three English services, on Maundy Thursday and Christmas Eve (Gluten, wheat, dairy, corn and soy – free wafers are available). We also have a Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic language worship services, led by our Language Pastors. The Spanish service meets Sundays at 11:00 in the Chapel. The Portuguese service meets Sundays at 11:00 in Spence Hall. And the Arabic service meets on Saturday nights at 7:00 in Spence Hall.
What is Sunday School like?
Sunday School Bible study groups are very central to the way we “do church” at Second. Sunday School is not just for children at our church. We actually have many more adults attending than children and youth. Our children and youth classes are age-graded. Most of our adult classes are coed, and most class members are in the same age range. We use a variety of curricula, but all of our classes are Bible studies. Through these groups we also do much of our outreach, fellowship, care giving and mission activities. Most active members at Second are also active in Sunday School.
What is Second’s denominational affiliation?
We are a strongly supportive part of both the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). We financially support the urban ministry centers and summer camp of the River City Faith Network (aka, “Richmond Baptist Association”). We have very strong historic ties to the Southern Baptist Convention, having even housed the Foreign Mission Board when it began and was led by our pastor. However, most of our missions giving is now channeled through the BGAV, CBF, River City Faith Network and various other ministry partners.