I’ve been attending at First Baptist on 16th Street for the past two Sundays. You would not know from first glance that it’s a Baptist church: the cathedral building with its stained glass windows looks almost Catholic, and the worship could be mistaken for a Presbyterian service, right down to introitus, responsory, and recital of the Lord’s Prayer.
The pastor, Jim Somerville, has taken bits and pieces of various Protestant traditions, and integrated them into this church with a uniquely Baptist touch. I was a bit worried at first upon seeing the word “ecumenical…” (You know how it is with us Baptists: “Ecumenism” = “Evil Romanist Compromise!”) …but so far what I’ve seen is a Baptist church which breaks out of the Baptist mold with its pleasant liberal-ness, but without compromising the fundamentals of Scripture and salvation by the grace of Christ. I’m liking it very much.
What I especially appreciate is that this is not a “Say the Formula Sinner’s Prayer and You’re Saved No Matter What” kind of church. As was explained at membership class, the church focuses also on building a community of relationships to encourage people to fruitful, growing, living faith in Christ. Isn’t that great?
(And the music’s beautiful. Organs, brass ensembles, even timpanis for Easter. We even had some Bach and Handel for invitational. Now that’s church music. Eh? Eh?)