First Baptist Church in Newton (Massachusetts)
First Baptist Church in Newton
First Baptist Church in Newton
|Location||848 Beacon St., Newton, Massachusetts|
|Architect||John Lyman Faxon|
|Architectural style||Other, Romanesque|
|NRHP Reference #||82002746|
|Added to NRHP||April 15, 1982|
The First Baptist Church in Newton was founded in 1788. Its historic building (built 1888) is located at 848 Beacon Street in the village of Newton Centre, in Newton, Massachusetts. On April 15, 1982, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
First Baptist is currently known for its innovative approaches, including a striking blend of contemporary and traditional music, an open, relaxed worship style and commitment to hospitality and the arts. Senior Minister Sean Witty came to First Baptist in 2011. He has a background as in the music industry, church planting, and youth ministry. Rev. Witty, his wife, singer-songwriter, artist and actress Lynn Bailey Witty, and frequent guest artists give the congregation an unusual musical energy. The congregation also emphasizes the growth of small and mid-sized groups, including those focused on lectio divina, parenting with young children, arts, young adults, biblical archaeology, the Jewish roots of Jesus, social justice and contemplative practices.
The church frequently hosts events for the wider community. Recent guests have included author Peter Rollins, author Brian McLaren and singer-songwriter Dar Williams. Recent social justice events featured appearances by Susannah Susannah Heschel and music legend Pete Peter Seeger.
The strikingly beautiful historic sanctuary is a regular venue for performance. It is the home of the New Philharmonia orchestra and a common venue for other musical and community events. The church hosts the annual commencement ceremonies for nearby Andover Newton Theological School. Faculty, staff, students, and administration are active members of the church.
As an American Baptist Church, all decisions on church matters rest with its own members. First Baptist Church in Newton is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and a member of The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts (TABCOM). It also belongs to the Alliance of Baptists.
The congregation belongs to AWAB, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. The congregation has voted to approve a welcoming statement:"Our congregation, believing God's love and grace are offered to all to be shared and celebrated by all, embraces persons of every age, race, sexual orientation, denomination, cultural background, and economic means as vital and integral members of God's family."
First Baptist Church in Newton was founded on July 5, 1780, on a site just west of the present building. The present building was constructed in 1888 in the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style pioneered by Henry Hobson Richardson. The church's architect was John Lyman Faxon.
Samuel Francis Smith, famous as the author of My Country, 'Tis of Thee (also known as America), was minister of the church from 1842 to 1854. The bell tower on the present building was given in his memory and was rededicated as the America bell tower in 1932.