About First Baptist Church


First Baptist Church, like all Baptist churches, is independent, making its own decisions about staffing, worship, ministry, outreach, and the programs it offers and supports. We choose to be affiliated with The American Baptist Churches USA, The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB), The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and the American Baptist Churches of The Rochester Genesee Region of New York. 

Following American Baptist polity, our church is run by church members who are nominated and affirmed by the membership as a whole. The church strives to support the spiritual life of individuals and families in its worship services and other aspects of church life.

For a glimpse of the work of this Church, please see a sampling of our Annual Report.

The First Baptist Church Covenant

Adopted 16 June 1963
Adapted by Rev. David M. Evans in the interest of inclusive language

As believers in God, the Creator, in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer; and in The Holy Spirit, the Sustainer, we, members and friends of the First Baptist Church of Ithaca, enter in to covenant with one another:

  • To strive toward yielding ourselves completely to Christ and to encourage one another to do the same
  • To give of our time and talent to the work of this church in advancing the Kingdom of God
  • To contribute cheerfully and generously to the support of the church and its mission and outreach
  • To attend as regularly as possible the worship services of the church
  • To be sensitive to the needs of others, remembering them in prayer and aiding them in sickness and distress
  • To live in such a way that others will be drawn to Christ and the Church
  • To work for the spiritual growth of the church through group and individual study and through personal commitment
  • To be slow to take offense and to be ready to seek reconciliation
  • To work with God to bring about universal equality, justice, and world peace
  • To guide our children in the understanding of and obedience to the living Christ
  • To stand ready to cooperate with men and women of other faiths whenever possible for the attainment of common purposes
  • And when we remove from this place, to unite with some other church where we may continue our Christian responsibilities.  

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We Are American Baptists


Four Freedoms are central to Baptists:

1. Bible Freedom: The Bible is central in the life of the individual and church; Christians are both free and obligated to study and follow the scriptures.

2. Soul Freedom: The inalienable right and responsibility of every person to deal with God without the imposition of creed, the obstructions of clergy, or the intervention of civil government.

3. Church Freedom: Local churches are free to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whom they perceive as gifted for ministry, male or female, and to participate in the larger Body of Christ.

4. Religious Freedom: The historic Baptist affirmation of freedom OF religion, freedom FOR religion and freedom FROM religion, insisting that Caesar is not Christ and Christ is not Caesar. 


About Ithaca


Ithaca is a small city located in Tompkins County, in the central Finger Lakes region of New York State. Drive northeast from Ithaca for about five hours, and you will find yourself among the heavily forested Adirondack Mountains. Drive southeast approximately the same distance, and you can cross over into Manhattan , a shadowed landscape of a different kind. Northwest of Ithaca is Niagara Falls. To the southwest run the arteries that move out into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois. Transports heading from central New York westward carry wine, car timing chains road salt, gravel, and apples.

But Ithaca, New York, never identifies itself as an industrial or farming town. It’s mainly a college town, rich in expensive backpacks and soft, crushable briefcases. Democrats and decaf coffees and articulate citizens’ committees that make life hell for administrators. Strong-arm tactics are met with public disapproval in Ithaca, though one often hears residents mutter wistfully that it would be nice if the city government could settle a few questions with less community input, more dispatch; less talk more action.

People who have heard of Ithaca usually know it as the home to Cornell University. The university’s various buildings stand up among the trees and can be seen clearly from a number of vantage points because the local landscape is hilly. From the v alley, the town has grown up the sides of three big hills. Cornell’s Italianate clock tower and distinctive, blocky art museum dominate East Hill. The twin towers of two high-rise dormitories on the campus of Ithaca College, a private undergraduate institution, dominate South Hill. West Hill is strictly residential. Between these three hills run thin, settled valleys and a network of precipitous gorges; some of the most spectacular residences in Ithaca sit propped on the edge of this or that abyss. Traffic descending the hills, trying to reach the downtown “flats” or cross over to one of the colleges, regularly backs up at a few notorious intersections. Creek waters spilling down through the gorges empty into the central flats and pass through the reinforced ditches of downtown Ithaca before mixing with the deep water of Cayuga Lake.

The City of Ithaca’s population is 31,000. Cornell University students number 20,000, while Ithaca College has 7,000 students. In all of Tompkins County, the total population is almost 104,000. * Visitors generally consider Ithaca picturesque. Parents of graduates recall the impressions of compact repose and youthful industry that fulfilled their expectations of a college town. Ithaca is always hosting visitors – the fluid swell and ebb of an international student population marks the seasons.

Or thanks to Debbie Homsher, former First Baptist member, and McBooks Press of Ithaca for permission to use this excerpt from the preface of Debbie’s book, From Blood to Verdict.

*Updated using 2013 data.

What does the Lord require of you?
To do Justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.
~Micah 6:8~