What Are American Baptists?

We are an American Baptist Church…what does that mean?

The Baptist Church of Grafton is an American Baptist Church, and our denominational affiliation is with American Baptist Churches USA. Just as there are many brands in our world today, there are many brands of Baptists – more than 25 Baptist groups exist. And there are hundreds of independent Baptist churches. The Baptist Church of Grafton is distinctly not like the Baptist churches that fit the popular media’s depiction of "fundamentalism".

American Baptists were first known as the Northern Baptist Convention which formed in 1845 when the Baptist Foreign Mission Society determined it could no longer appoint slaveholders as new missionaries. As a result, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed as a separate denomination. The Northern Baptist Convention worked for justice in the aftermath of the American Civil War and beyond. It was renamed the American Baptist Churches in 1950. Perhaps the most prominent American Baptist leader was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his world-changing leadership in Civil Rights.

Today American Baptists still stand at the forefront of the struggles for racial equity and justice.

All churches within ABC USA are autonomous, which means each church is self-supporting, self-governing and self-determining as a local congregation. Established in 1800, the Baptist Church of Grafton is among the oldest of the American Baptist Churches and has continually loved and served the people of Grafton and the surrounding communities without interruption or hesitation. We are a diverse congregation of people from many places and backgrounds. Some were raised in other church traditions and some are life-long American Baptists. We are unified in our diversity and strengthened by God’s spirit as we serve and worship together.

The member churches of the American Baptist Churches USA encompass belief structures ranging from conservative to liberal. In a manner similar to this inclusiveness of beliefs, we include a wide range of beliefs within The Baptist Church of Grafton. Ours is a forward-seeing New England Christian community, steeped in the Massachusetts tradition of intellectual and spiritual freedom. We value the diversity of our members and their beliefs and traditions. This requires each of us to accept the responsibility to respect each person’s right to her/his belief structure - without judging it or attempting to change it. We take risks on the side of freedom of conscience rather than following fixed creeds and denominational rules. That’s part of the American Baptist uniqueness and our appeal to many people.

In our church, our worship services are reverent, thoughtful and intended to inspire your faith journey. You are welcome here, wherever you may be on that path.

We hope that this description of our church community appeals to you. If it does, please come and worship with us!