Welcome to First Baptist Church

A Progressive, Welcoming and Affirming Baptist Church

An LGBT Friendly Church

Christian Family Education for all Ages

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

New Pastor Called to First Baptist!

Debbie and Bill

The atmosphere was electric at First Baptist on Sunday, July 9, as the congregation gathered to hear the Rev. Debbie Bennett-Reynolds lead the worship service. The previous day had been spent in a variety of small-group meetings that gave the staff, as well as members and friends of First Baptist, a chance to meet Debbie and to get to know her. These meetings were followed Saturday evening with a dish-to-pass supper and a chance for Debbie and her husband, Bill, to tell us a bit about themselves, and of Debbie's path to the ministry. After the meal there was an opportunity for Debbie to respond to questions from the congregation, and her responses gave us a sense of her warmth and her alignment with the spirit and goals of First Baptist.

After the question-and-answer portion of Saturday's gathering, Debbie was greeted with a standing ovation, and the congregation was looking forward to Sunday's service with anticipation. And Debbie didn't disappoint. She delivered a heart-felt sermon based on the Lectionary passage from Matthew 11 that includes the words "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; ... For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (An audio recording of the Scripture and sermon is available on the "Listen to First Baptist Sunday Sermons" page.) Debbie had learned only Saturday morning on her first visit to our sanctuary that these words are displayed in the Christ window in the western wall of our sanctuary.

Immediately following the worship service, the congregation met and, in an unanimous vote, called Debbie to be our Pastor. She will start on September 1, and will lead her first worship service as our new, settled Pastor on September 3.

We are so grateful for the hard work and dedication of the Pastor Search Committee, and are looking forward with joy to sharing with Pastor Debbie the next chapter in the life of the congregation of the First Baptist Church in Ithaca.

New Youth Programs Web Site

First Baptist is delighted to welcome our new Youth and Children's Ministry Coordinator, Amy Beigel, along with her husband, Duffy, and their children, Owen, Caroline, Bethany, and Silas. Click on the image on the right to visit the new Youth Programs Web site that Amy has created.

The Historical Jesus

If you missed any of the three sessions that Interim Pastor David Johnson presented on The Historical Jesus, audio CD recordings of these lectures are available in the church sanctuary.

First Baptist Church Torture Banner

~ 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 an old established church. 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 LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender)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.

Like good Ithacans, we pride ourselves in our environmental consciousness and activism. The church has solar panels to offset our energy use. We compost and recycle. We bring our own reusable bags to the grocery store. We use biodegradable materials and are attempting to eliminate landfill waste. We emphasize fair trade products. We have an earth-awareness Sunday once a month and we have a "green" page in our monthly newsletter. At our monthly dish-to-pass lunch (second Sunday) one can find at the table vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes alongside some traditional favorites. Many of us drive hybrid cars, bike, walk, or use public transportation. We garden organically and participate in community-supported agriculture. We also participate as a church in environmental groups such as the Interfaith Climate Action Network (ICAN) and environmental activities in our community.

Our strengths are many but a few especially stand out:

We are a richly musical family. We are blessed by our organist and our choir director who are both very talented and very creative in their musical approach and repertoire. Our congregation includes members who teach music, play in community bands, and sing in community choruses. First Baptist proudly has its own Christian folk band who often play some of their original pieces. The Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers and The Ithaca Gay Men’s Chorus periodically provide special music for us on Sunday, as do student musicians from the local colleges and local artists.

Another unique strength is that in our modestly-sized congregation, there are a half-dozen retired clergy who choose First Baptist as their home church but serve in other organizations. These individuals graciously offer themselves for pastoral duties such as visitation and organizational leadership.

First Baptist plays an important role in our community. Our members participate in advocacy groups such as SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) and the Tompkins County Workers' Center. We regularly make lunches for the local homeless shelter and volunteer at a food pantry. Given our central location, our building host to many groups such as a Sufi meditation group, a mindfulness meditation group, the Sacred Harp Singers, and a post-traumatic stress disorder group.

We are an active congregation that wishes to grow and has so much to offer.

Sunday Worship     10:00 AM
Coffee/Fellowship 11:15 AM
Church Classes       11:30 AM

No Adult Education on the second Sunday of each month due to our community breakfast.
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~