Each local American Baptist church is autonomous. The Baptist Temple was founded as Second Baptist Church in 1834. Through it’s rich history, the church was a forerunner in race relations and women’s rights. In 1841, in a bold and controversial act, the Second Baptist Church allowed whites and blacks to worship together. They allowed women to vote in church elections in 1871 and ordained their first woman in 1935.
In 1925 the church built the 14-story Temple Building in downtown Rochester and renamed themselves “The Baptist Temple.” They spent close to 40 years as one of Rochester’s first “mega-churches,” before the congregation decided to spend more time on faith and less on building management. The current facility in Brighton was completed in 1964. Since then, it has been a home for service to the poor, a center for cultivation of the arts, and a community for vibrant faith exploration.
In 2015 the congregation voted to expand the mission of their building. They established The Clover Center for Arts and Spirituality as their gift to the community. It’s a cultural center with a church at its heart. And it is the living legacy of a congregation with a rich history of community service and cultural cultivation.
There are hundreds of “Baptist” denominations. Here’s what we mean when we say Baptist:
Your Soul is Smart
Everyone has the ability to make decisions of faith without having to adhere to a creed. We are a community who helps each other find God, but we never dictate how, and there’s never any pressure to convert.
Each local Baptist church is autonomous and free to make decisions without interference from “the higher-ups.” Our denomination doesn’t even have higher-ups. We associate with other American Baptist by choice. That doesn’t mean we always agree. And as long as there’s respect, different theologies are welcomed and celebrated.
American Baptists invented the separation of Church and State. If the government supports one religion over another or if politicians influence the church, both institutions are undermined.
Freedom of Interpretation
The Bible has been the Christian foundation for thousands of years, but interpretations are always changing. We don’t dictate any interpretation as right or wrong–we embrace the freedom of multiple interpretations, each as the basis for a loving way of life. Independent thinking is the cornerstone of the Baptist Temple.
We Baptize Adults
We celebrate baptism as an individual choice by baptizing adults and teens who want to make a faith commitment. If you are looking for an infant dedication (prayers without water), we are glad to do that too.