The History of Seattle First Baptist Church
The book Our First Baptist Heritage, 1869 - 1984 is the life story of the Seattle First Baptist Church. It goes far beyond the routine dating of events, choosing rather to portray personalities of those men and women who founded First Baptist and then nurtured it over a period of more than a century. Many people can remember pastors as far back as Dr. Bailey (1920-28). There have been many wonderfully talented, creative and committed people who have made the pages of this book come alive with their faith journeys. The theology of First Baptist ministers, as far back as Dr. Whitman (1908-1911) has been fairly consistent. The theology has been solid and biblically grounded, yet tolerant of theological diversity within its own membership. This plurality seems to have been not only tolerated, but indeed cultivated. We continue to cherish it today as one of the continuing assets of our church, a maintenance of the historic Baptist tenet of "soul freedom."
Every member will have different memories of pastors and events that happened in the church and the world of the day. Dr. Bailey boxed the Mayor of Seattle to control corruption and prostitution in the city. Dr. Fridell will be remembered as a world citizen. Dr. Jensen will be remembered as an ardent pacifist when it was not popular to be one. Our church has had a great history of social outreach ministry. We helped in the resettlement of the Japanese who returned after World War II. We created the Christian Center ministering to the first urban renewal project in the United States. Our food bank served 10,000 persons a month. And now we have programs that address the issues of AIDS, mental health, peace making, and other issues that move us beyond the walls of our church.
During the 1980s and 90s, our church was led by Dr. Rodney Romney. He was well known as a radio preacher throughout the Seattle area, and in particular, as a deeply spiritual leader who was engaged in interfaith exploration and dialogue.
As the church entered a new millenium, a decision was made to move away from a hierarchical model of pastoral leadership to call Dr. Stephen D. Jones as its Coordinating Pastor to lead a four-person Pastoral Team. Collaboration among the pastors has deepened and extended their voices both within and beyond the congregation. The pulpit of SFBC continues to highlight diversity, to uphold progressive values, and to engage the issues impacting urban Seattle.