Welcome to First Baptist Church

A Progressive, Welcoming and Affirming Baptist Church

An LGBTQ+ Friendly Church

Christian Family Education for all Ages

Office Hours: Tuesday - Friday, 10 AM - 1 PM

This Sunday (March 17, 2019) at First Baptist in Ithaca

Please join us for worship at First Baptist on the second Sunday of Lent.

  • Pastor Debbie B. Reynolds will provide a Lenten meditation entitled The Fox and the Hen;
  • VOICES Multicultural Chorus will provide special music for the service; and
  • Adult Education will focus on Black History: What does it mean for us? How does it play out in Ithaca in 2019?

The worship service begins at 10:00 am, followed by Christian education for all ages.

Special Lenten Offerings

Please also join us for the following special Lenten services.

  • Evening Lenten Prayer Services, beginning at 5:00 pm, every Saturday until Easter;
  • Maundy Thursday Service, beginning at 6:00 pm on April 18; and
  • Good Friday Tenebrae Service, beginning at 7:00 pm on April 19; and
  • Easter Breakfast, dish-to-pass breakfast/brunch beginning at 8:30 am preceding the Easter Service on April 21.

First Baptist Waste/Recycling Assessment

First Baptist has undergone a waste handling and recycling assessment, headed up by Josie Zanfordino and David Hopkins. A copy of the report, prepared by Seth Dennis of the Tompkins County Recycling and Materials Management Center is available here: First Baptist Waste Assessment Report. The report congratulates First Baptist on doing well with its recycling efforts, but also points out ways that we can improve. Adult Education during January has focused on educating the members and friends of First Baptist on ways to improve our recycling habits.

New Youth and Children's Ministry Coordinator

We are pleased to announce that Laura Ward has accepted the position of Youth and Children's Ministry Coordinator at First Baptist. More information about Laura (and other members of our staff) is posted on the Staff page of our web site.

2018 Ithaca Festival Parade

Members and friends of the First Baptist Church marched in the Ithaca Festival Parade on Friday, June 1. Because of the threatening rain, we had to march without our sound system -- Rich Barron played the song Where One is Poor that Dave Caughey had written for the occasion from the audio system in the cab of his truck (has your hearing recovered yet, Rich?). If you'd like to hear the song, you can find Dave's YouTube version by clicking on the image at the right.

We carried three banners: our First Baptist Church banner plus both, our local and national, Poor People's Campaign banners. Response from the crowds lining Cayuga Street was heartwarming -- lots of smiles and encouraging "thumbs ups" in support of the Poor People's Campaign! If you missed marching with us this year, please plan to join us for next year's parade if you can!

2018 Artist's Reception

When the First Baptist Library was remodeled a few years ago, the remodeling team had in mind that they would like the room to be available for showing off various types of art work, including that produced by members and non-members alike. In the time since, one wall has been dedicated to the display of photographs by Bill Abeles, Judy Kennison, and Tony Lister. More recently other art works have been added, and on April 22, 2018 the Adult Education hour provided an opportunity for four of the artists to describe their displayed works. These included lingtime friend of First Baptist, John Lyon Paul, whose painting from his Pilgrimage series is shown at the right.

Brief descriptions of all the pieces are shown on the 2018 Artist's Reception page, along with audio of the artist's descriptions of their work.

The Poor People's Campaign: An Update

The Campaign is Happening!

The kick-off event for the Poor People's Campaign will be live-streamed at First Baptist on Sunday, May 13, from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. This event is open to all -- please join us!

Friends who cannot make the trip to Albany on Monday, May 14, are welcome to join us as we march to the Ithaca Commons at noon. We will meet at First Baptist in Ithaca, and walk to the Commons and back in solidarity with our friends in Albany.

For more information on the Poor People's Campaign go to their FaceBook page, or to www.poorpeoplescampaign.


Since November we have been learning about national efforts to organize a new Poor People's Campaign on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign and his assassination. The work is moving forward and plans are building for 40 days of direct action to call attention to the concerns of people living in poverty, and to systemic racism, militarism, and ecological devastation. All these concerns impact people in poverty in particularly severe ways, and they are all inter-connected. The movement is building relationships at the grass roots level and developing an organized national strategy. These days of direct action will be from May 14th -- June 21st, 2018 and are intended to call national attention to these concerns. They are also the beginning of a multi-year campaign to work for systemic changes.

What are We Doing?

Our Central/Southern Tier region of New York is being led by a steering committee that includes Baruch Whitehead and Tim Shenk. Leslie Schultz is involved with trainings that are being planned for those who are considering or are committed to direct actions of moral resistance in Albany. First Baptist members Baruch, Leslie and Linda Nicholson have committed to participate in direct action. As your pastor, I have begun participating in phone calls about organization of faith communities in our area to become knowledgeable about the campaign and to connect with other like-minded communities. The First Baptist Cabinet approved a motion to ask the congregation to vote on whether to become an endorsing organization.

After an extended discussion in adult education on April 8, the First Baptist membership voted unanimously in a congregational meeting on April 15 to become an Endorsing Organization of the Poor People's Campaign.

What Does First Baptist Sponsorship Mean?

This means minimally that we are willing to be listed as a supporting organization. It also means that we would continue educating ourselves on these issues and join with others to work for change. We will plan to continue to provide space for events and trainings as needed. In addition, we will consider how we as individuals and as a congregation want to participate in and support the 40 days of direct action. It has been suggested that we could display a banner of some kind on our building in support of the campaign. In Cabinet we also discussed possibly setting up a Bail Fund for those who are arrested. Since then, we've learned there is anticipated need for financial support for buses and food for people going to Albany to protest. For every one person who participates in direct moral resistance, there is a need for 3-4 others to provide support, prayers, bail money, care for children, and more. We all are encouraged to show up for mass meetings, vigils, demonstrations, and educational events.

As of mid-March, there are 1000 people in each of 31 states committed to participating in direct action of moral resistance during the 40 days. Grass roots organizing and coalition-building is slow and messy, but a lot is happening! I have never been a part of anything like this, and I am still trying to discern my role and our role as a church. Let's be in prayer together about our individual and congregational responses to this campaign.

Pastor Debbie Bennett Reynolds

FBC Learns about the Poor People's Campaign

In a moving service on Sunday, January 14, First Baptist learned about why several members and friends are involved in, and supporting, the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Dr. Baruch Whitehead, Tim Shenk, Linda Nicholson, and Leslie Schultz led us in a worship service focused on the needs of the poor in America today, and how a national campaign is being organized to continue the work of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 50th year since his assassination. You can hear more by listening to the sermon for this date posted on the Listen to First Baptist Sunday Sermons from the navigation bar on the right.

Youth Programs Web Site

First Baptist's Youth and Children's Ministry Coordinator has created a web site featuring many of the activities of the children and youth at First Baptist. Click on the image on the right to visit the site.

~ Who We Are ~ `

First Baptist Church of Ithaca is located in the center of the vibrant city of Ithaca, NY (a city of more than 30,000 people). Although in a city location off of Dewitt Park, our members come from both downtown and rural locations more than 25 miles from the church. Those members are willing to travel the distance because of the uniqueness and values found at First Baptist of Ithaca. We are a church with a long and rich history. Our identity is marked by our shared values for social justice and diversity. Our church is a member of the American Baptist Churches USA, in the Rochester-Genesee Region. We belong to the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB).

We strongly believe that everyone is invited to the table and made to feel welcome there. We don’t just talk the talk. Our church reaches out to the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, ...) community and is respectful and considerate in language and actions towards one another. This is important to us. We value diversity and warmly welcome people of any culture, race, or economic background into our church. Our present population includes retirees, single parent families, blended families, foster/adoptive families, and college students. We are seeking to increase our membership with young and old alike.

Sunday Worship       10:00 AM
Coffee/Fellowship  11:15 AM
Children's Classes   11:15 AM
Adult Classes           11:30 AM

No Adult Education on the second Sunday of each month due to our community brunch.
Worship services are family-friendly and nursery care is also available.


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