RICHLAND BELIEFS STATEMENT
We Believe/Purpose Statement
Although Baptist congregations are self-governing and are not obligated to subscribe to an imposed “official” creed, we here at Richland Baptist Church link arms with our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world and throughout the ages in affirming as truth the statements found in the historical confession of faith known as the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic [that is, “universal”] Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.” We respect and honor the work of God as he relates to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we believe a healthy church will function in the responsible exercise of all the spiritual gifts given by God for the edification of the Body of Christ and the reaching of a lost world.
Richland is a congregation made up of believers from a variety of Christian traditions. As a Baptist church we embrace historical Baptist distinctives: among which are self-government of congregations through a “democratic” process under the leadership of the Holy Spirit; the responsibility of the individual before God in the exercise of his or her conscience; and “believer’s baptism” (the decision to be baptized as a follower of Christ made by a believer for himself or herself rather than by parents). Believers who come from other traditions and who do not desire to go through “believer’s baptism” are more than welcome and are able to actively participate in the life and work of this congregation in almost every way; the exceptions being certain leadership positions and the ability to vote concerning official decisions of the church.
We are a church seeking to operate in obedience to the Great Commission of our Lord (Matthew 28:18-20). As such, we have defined our “Purpose” this way: “The purpose of our church is to raise up a loving community of Christian disciples who seek to be like Jesus in every way.” What is a “disciple”? We have said: “A Christian disciple is one who has chosen a personal love relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s Son and Savior of the world, and is committed to trust and follow Him through lifelong spiritual disciplines (worship, prayer, Bible study, Christian fellowship, witnessing, service to others). A disciple continues to grow in intimacy with Christ and ministers through the power of the Holy Spirit to please God the Father.”
Baptists have been called a “peculiar people” in that we are very different from denominations which have official creeds enforced by hierarchical structures of authority. There is no Baptist Church; there are only Baptist churches. Each congregation is autonomous (self-governing) and we value the freedom of each individual’s conscience before God. Richland has historical ties to the Baptist General Association of Virginia, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Fredericksburg Area Baptist Network (these entities are listed in chronological order according to the date of formation). Each of these is a voluntary association for the purpose of sending and supporting missionaries and extending and advancing the Kingdom of God in other ways at home and abroad. Being “Southern Baptist” is not at the core of Richland’s identity. We simply want to be the Church, representing our Lord well and carrying His great name with humility, grace, spiritual authority and power, as we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Every denomination has strengths and weaknesses, which is why we need the full expression of the Body of Christ. With all of that said, for those who want a more comprehensive statement of doctrine Richland is comfortable with, we point people to the 1963 iteration of the Baptist Faith and Message Statement. As already noted, this was not intended to be a creed. The committee which drafted the 1963 Statement as an update to the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message Statement describes it as a “consensus of opinion” most Southern Baptist churches could agree with. The 1963 statement is included below in its entirety, including the introduction by the Committee on Baptist Faith and Message.