First Baptist Church of St Paul is an American Baptist Church. American Baptist Churches are free churches.
Roger Williams said he founded Providence, Rhode Island, as “a shelter for persons distressed for conscience.” In other words, for religious dissenters and non-conformists. People like you, perhaps.
Williams was banned in Boston where the puritans ran a tight church and the government to boot. They beat, jailed, and banished independent thinkers. So he left one night and started an alternative world where freedom of conscience was saluted. You might say it was providence!
Roger Williams was an American Baptist. So are we. To this day we’re fearlessly independent about self-government in our churches and self-determination in our personal beliefs. Those roots go deep.
Here are two examples. See if you don’t find yourself agreeing with us.
We’re convinced that each local congregation is autonomous in matters of faith and practice. We’re a network of churches, none of them owned by higher-ups. We wouldn’t know what to do with a bishop if we had one (which we don’t).
We’re convinced that each Christian can make responsible decisions about faith issues. Conscience must be free, Scripture is taken seriously and so we have a healthy pluralism of beliefs. No one knuckles under to a dogma, a creed, or a theological argument.
Incidentally, a shipload of British Quakers fleeing persecution once docked in New York and were refused entry. They were shipped right back out to… you guessed it… Providence! There they were welcomed, settled, and became Americans.