A Church Called “Baptist”
First Baptist on Fifth follows God revealed in Jesus and set loose through the Spirit in a way that is historically and distinctly Baptist. Our Baptistness can certainly cause confusion among some who wonder, among other things, “can a Baptist church have a woman pastor?,” or “do Baptist churches really welcome, affirm, and celebrate people in the LGBTQ+ community?” Yes and yes! We celebrate our rich heritage that began back in 1870 when Alfred Holland put an ad in the paper asking if there were any other Baptists in Winston, and from there, our church was born.
Four particular Baptist distinctives help us live into our calling, best described by Baptist historian, Buddy Shurden, who coined these the “four fragile freedoms” which are:
Or, the Centrality and Authority of Scripture
All people have the right and the responsibility to study and interpret the Bible. We affirm the authority of scripture. We believe the Bible, under the leadership of Jesus and the movement of the Spirit, is central in the life of the individual and the church.
Or, the Priesthood of All Believers
We affirm the freedom and right of every Christian to interpret and apply scripture under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We affirm the freedom and responsibility of every person to relate directly to God without the imposition of creed or the control of clergy or government.
Or, the Autonomy of the Local Church
We believe Baptist churches are free, with God’s help, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whomever they perceive as gifted for ministry, and to participate as they deem appropriate in the larger Body of Christ.
Or, the Separation of Church and State.
We believe in the freedom of religion, the freedom for religion, and the freedom from religion. We affirm religious freedom for all people and the separation of church and state.
First Baptist on Fifth finds deepest community and identity in our partnership with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global (CBF) and its local presence, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBFNC). We were a founding congregation of both CBF and CBFNC, drawing sustained connection and community from the relationships across CBF and through time.
Outside of the web of Baptist partners we support through our denominational affiliation with CBF and CBFNC, we partner together specifically with a host of Baptist groups to do more together than we can do apart. These partners are:
Through our work with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, we support the Baptist Student Union at Wake Forest University, with their campus minister, Chris Towles.
We are also an Encourager Church through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which partners our church with CBF Field Personnel, Missy Ward Angalla, and the organization she leads, Amani Sasa in Kampala, Uganda.
For decades, First Baptist on Fifth has partnered together with other churches and nonprofits for the good of our community. We were a founding presence with several of our local nonprofits meeting immediate needs, like Crisis Control Ministries, Samaritan Ministries, and Habitat for Humanity. Most recently, First Baptist on Fifth birthed the Winston-Salem Center for Education and the Arts, a space providing purposeful, rent-free space to organizations committed to changing lives of those on our city’s margins.
Currently, our partner organizations all work within the sphere of our church’s four missional priorities: cultivating the well-being of children, mitigating poverty in our community, becoming a teaching and learning church, and growing in number and faithfulness. These partners are:
- Crisis Control
- Winston-Salem Street School
- Habitat for Humanity
- Mission Emmanuel
- Senior Services Inc.
- Samaritan Ministries
- Shepherd’s Center
- Serving Our Savior
- W-S Center for Ed and the Arts
- City with Dwellings
- Dress for Success
- Shalom Project
- Love Out Loud
- Authoring Action
- Imprints Cares
- Brian’s Place
- Green Nest
- World Relief