Who We Are
Who We Are – American Baptist Churches USA
American Baptist churches USA (ABCUSA) is a Baptist Christian denomination within the United States. The denomination maintains headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. ABCUSA is a member of the National Council of Churches, the Baptist World Alliance, and the World Council of Churches.
Roger Williams established the First Baptist Church in Providence (now the First Baptist Church in America) in 1638. Regarded by the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay colony as a heretic for his Baptist faith tradition, Williams was banished into the New England wilderness where he and his followers created the settlement of Providence and later, the colony of Rhode Island. Williams is credited with being the founder of the Baptist movement in America, the founder of the state of Rhode Island, and the first highly visible public leader in America to call for the separation of church and state.
Theology and practice
American Baptists believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and the final authority in matters of faith. ABCUSA affirms the Trinity, that the one God exists as three persons in complete unity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord through whom those who believe can have fellowship with God. He died, taking on the sins of the world, and was resurrected, triumphing over sin and death.
ABCUSA churches recognize two ordinances: Believer’s Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is by immersion, and those being baptized must be of an age to understand its significance. Believing in the priesthood of all believers, ABCUSA avoids using creeds, affirming the freedom of individual Christians and local churches to interpret scripture as the Holy Spirit leads them. ABCUSA affirms the ordination of women.
American Baptists Churches USA has a congregationalist polity emphasizing local church autonomy. Local churches are organized into 35 regions. The general board makes policy for the denomination’s national agencies. However, general board resolutions are not binding on local congregations.
A substantial portion of ABCUSA consists of African-American churches that may have joint affiliations with ABCUSA and historic bodies such as the National Baptist Convention or the Progressive National Baptist convention.
In 2008, the American Baptist churches USA reported 1,371,278 members in 5,659 churches. Membership remained fairly steady during the 20th century. In 1925, there were just over 1.4 million members. Membership peaked in the early 1980's at around 1.6 million. Congregations are concentrated in the midwest and the northeast United States.
10 Facts You Should Know About American Baptists