Our church is dedicated to supporting God’s work in our
Ann Arbor community and throughout the world.
At First Baptist Church, we believe that living a meaningful life involves making a positive impact on the world. Our faith finds its fullest expression in compassionate service, social action, and advocacy for the most vulnerable. As individuals, as small groups and teams, as a whole congregation, and in partnership with organizations that are doing invaluable work, we seek to make a difference locally and globally. Here are some of the ways we work together towards the transformation of our world.
Public Health and Community Development
We are a founding mission partner of AMOS Health and Hope, a Christian nonprofit organization in Nicaragua dedicated to improving the health of impoverished communities through a community empowerment model focused on health, education, and development. Our annual financial contributions to AMOS help support a community health clinic and health promoter in the tiny rural village of La Danta. Throughout the year, we also undertake special fundraising projects to support efforts such as clean water initiatives and Zika prevention efforts. Every year or two, we send a service-learning team to help with clean water projects and other community empowerment efforts. Our partnership with AMOS makes a tangible difference in the lives of impoverished communities in Nicaragua. Those who have participated in the AMOS service-learning trips have found their own lives transformed by new learnings, new friendships, and spiritual growth.
Refugee Family Support
This is our newest mission opportunity, and we’re very excited about it! First Baptist Church has taken on the challenge of supporting a refugee family from Afghanistan. Our goal is to help acclimate the family to life here in our community, to help them maneuver socially and economically in this environment, to experience happiness and fulfillment. In addition to offering financial support to this family through our annual operating budget, we are also working with volunteers in our congregation to help with resume development, job search, budgeting, and financial management. Volunteers are also simply spending time developing friendships with this family, as well as offering emotional support to the mother in this family during her pregnancy.
Since the fall of 2016, our congregation has been working to better understand issues of race and white privilege. In addition to intensive studies and discussion groups led by an outside facilitator (the nationally acclaimed storyteller and diversity workshop presenter, La’Ron Williams), this group has been exploring ways to take action locally to work towards racial justice in our community and in our world. In November 2016, a small group of women from our church, including one of our pastors, went to the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in North Dakota, as part of an interfaith peaceful, prayerful witness of solidarity with the Water Protectors there. Afterwards, many in our congregation took additional action of support, solidarity, and advocacy with respect to justice for indigenous groups. We continue to seek to learn, grow, and work for positive change with respect to the deep race-based pain in our nation.
Peace and Justice
We are a Partner Congregation of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz), the largest network of Baptist peacemakers in the world. As part of this organization, we support peacemaking work done by Baptist churches throughout North America. BPFNA brings peacemakers together in regional and intergenerational gatherings; provides resources, speakers, and training; and raises the visibility of local peacemaking work being done by Baptist churches. BPFNA also actively connects with peacemakers from other traditions, faith-based and secular, to build alliances and work together toward our common goal of a more just and peaceful world.
Hunger and Homelessness
Our vision of a world where everyone has ample food and shelter is at the core of our mission at First Baptist Church. Read more about how you can get involved in one of our many hunger and homelessness ministries here. In addition to these efforts, our annual operating budget includes financial support to the following organizations, some of which are members also support with volunteer time:
- Avalon Housing – works to end homelessness in Washtenaw County by helping our community’s most vulnerable citizens find housing without preconditions and providing essential supports to help them stay in their homes.
- Community Action Network – partners with children, youth, and families from under-resourced Washtenaw County neighborhoods to create better futures for themselves and improve the communities in which they live.
- Religious Action for Affordable Housing – works for the substantial increase of low-cost, affordable housing for rent and for purchase in Washtenaw County, particularly in areas of greatest need.
- Interfaith Hospitality Network – provides temporary shelter, food, and support services for families, in a caring atmosphere of dignity and safety, and supports these families in securing and maintaining their own home.
- HOPE Clinic – provides compassionate and practical help to those in need, ministering to the whole person with dignity and respect. HOPE Clinic operates medical clinics, a dental clinic, food programs, and emergency & basic needs programs.
- Groundcover News – exists to create opportunity and a voice for low-income people while taking action to end homelessness and poverty. When you purchase the Groundcover News from a downtown vendor, you are promoting a progressive alternative to panhandling.
- Friendship House – exists to strengthen families through community connections, offers help to residents with basic human needs, and provides assistance in gaining the tools necessary to achieve self-sufficiency.
- M.I.S.S.I.O.N.A2 – provides food, shelter, and a communal space for the community to come together to combat homelessness.
At First Baptist Church, we value collaboration and learning across the boundaries of faith. Our annual operating budget includes financial contributions to the following organizations:
- Interfaith Roundtable of Washtenaw County – seeks to create a culture of understanding and inclusion among all people interested in exploring the deeper meanings of life. First Baptist is a founding member of this alliance, which creates safe spaces for listening and learning, through education, dialogue, and shared practices.
- Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice – inspires, educates, and mobilizes people to unite across differences and to act from shared ethical and spiritual values in pursuit of peace with social and environmental justice.
As a university church, we know the value of higher education and of support for students on their educational journey. Our annual operating budget includes financial support to the following organizations:
- Bacone College – with a special focus on serving American Indians within a culturally diverse community, this American Baptist college, located in Muskogee, Oklahoma, challenges students to develop intellectual and social skills, spiritual values, and healthy lifestyles, by providing quality education in a nurturing Christian environment.
- Central Baptist Theological Seminary – offers innovative theological education and effective ministry formation in a global context. Our congregation helped launch, fund, and staff a new teaching site of this American Baptist seminary (located in Shawnee, Kansas) here in Ann Avrbor.
- Ecumenical Theological Seminary – addresses questions of spiritual nurture and social justice, traditional confession and cross-cultural innovation, in an urban-based, ecumenical learning environment. Located in the heart of Detroit, this seminary is committed to the education and formation of ministers in one of the most difficult and promising epicenters of American identity.
- The American Baptist Campus Foundation at the University of Michigan – offers a safe, nurturing space for undergraduate and graduate students to explore and express their questions and doubts, learn from others, and be supported in their personal faith and growth. Housed here at First Baptist Church and started by our members in 1904, this campus ministry is the oldest Protestant campus ministry is the country.
Our church facilities are situated in a vibrant part of downtown Ann Arbor known as the State Street District. As a member of the District, we seek to contribute to the vitality, diversity, and welcoming spirit of our neighborhood. We financially support efforts to make the District a clean, safe, and fun place for students, families with children, seniors, and adults of all ages. We have held community block parties to celebrate our neighborhood; outdoor carol sings at Christmastime; public memorial services in the wake of national tragedies; and other neighborhood events. We are constantly looking for ways to reach out beyond our walls to share love and kindness with our neighbors.
Our church building is one of our best partners in the work of transforming our world. Six days a week, our doors are open for various addiction recovery groups to meet to support one another in overcoming addiction to drugs, alcohol, or other addiction. Lives are changed through the work of these groups, and we are honored to be able to provide a home for them as they walk the path of recovery.
Additional Mission Outreach
We contribute at least 11% of our annual operating budget to ministry causes beyond our congregation, both locally and globally, through our American Baptist Churches USA affiliation (abc-usa.org) and beyond. In addition to this significant financial support, we also promote four major special offerings per year:
- The America for Christ Offering, which supports our denomination in cultivating Christian leaders, equipping disciples, and working to heal and transform hurting communities across our nation.
- The World Mission Offering, which supports cross-cultural work towards justice, peace, and abundant life for all creation.
- The One Great Hour of Sharing Offering, which supports worldwide disaster relief and development in times of crisis, in cooperation with other denominations.
- The Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering, which supports retired American Baptist ministers and missionaries, and their widowed spouses, with thank you gifts and responses to emergency needs.
In addition to these special offerings, our congregation also supports an additional special Fellowship Offering several times a year, to help members of our local community with critical needs in times of crisis.