Autonomous, Independent Christian Church in the American Baptist Tradition
West Side Baptist Church is an autonomous (self-governing), independent Christian congregation that adheres to the teachings of the Holy Bible (the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments). Baptists cherish several distinctive, including others, which make the Baptist faith and traditions unique (see https://www.baptistdistinctives.org), including, but not limited to:
- BIBLICAL AUTHORITY – Baptists believe the Holy Bible is the only written authority for faith and practice. The Bible contains everything a person needs for salvation, faith, spirituality, and Christian living.
- CHURCH AUTONOMY – Autonomy means that each Baptist church, among other things, has self-rule (self-governance and direction) under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and, therefore, is free to select its leadership – both lay and clergy, determine its worship form, decide its affiliation and denominational practices or none, direct its financial matters, own and care for their property, elect representatives and delegates who speak freely on matters of common concern, and direct other church-related affairs without outside control or supervision. Baptist denominational organizations such as associations of churches and state and national conventions have no authority over a local Baptist church.
- PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS – Baptists believe every baptized Christian has the opportunity and responsibility to relate to God and serve the Lord directly as believing priests under Jesus Christ’s Lordship. Every believer in a local congregation of believers has the authority and duty to preach/teach the Word of God, administer the ordinance of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (holy communion), serve in leadership and sacrifice, and pray (free intercession) to and with God on behalf of the world. The local church calls and elects individuals freely to serve as ordained clergy for special offices devoted to preaching, teaching, evangelism, missionary service, leadership, etc.
- REGENERATED CHURCH (BELIEVER’S CHURCH) – Baptists believe Christ’s church is a fellowship of redeemed persons who have voluntarily followed Jesus as Lord and voluntarily associated with one another under God’s lordship and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thus Baptists believe that only saved persons should be members of a local congregation. Baptists also believe that saved persons should be members of a church who are gathered together as God’s redeemed fellowship. While becoming a Christian is an individual response of faith, growing as a Christian is enhanced by fellowship with other Christians. The Christian life was designed not as a solo endeavor but as a fellowship experience, with a church being the primary fellowship.
- SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE – Baptists recognize no governmental control over faith and religious practice. Although Baptist churches obey the laws of governments related to some issues, they refuse to recognize the authority of governments in matters of doctrine, polity and ministry (Matthew 22:21). Baptists have consistently rejected the efforts of any secular government entity to dictate to a church what to believe, how to worship or who should or should not be members.
- SOUL COMPETENCY – Baptists believe every person has the God-given freedom and ability to know and respond to God’s grace and will – including rejecting God or practicing no faith without outside interference or coercion – and make choices that decide their lifestyle and future.
Denominational Affiliation for Mission Promotion and Christian Service
West Side Baptist Church voluntarily affiliates with the following mission organizations to participate in and promote God’s work in the world:
- American Baptist Churches USA (national denomination): American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world. Disclaimer: As an independent, autonomous church, West Side Baptist Church does not endorse nor support the denomination’s social policies, practices, or agendas.
- American Baptist Churches of the Central Region (State Conventions of Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma) – The American Baptist Churches of the Central Region (ABCCR) is a voluntary association of autonomous Baptist churches glorifying God through living the Gospel of Jesus Christ with its regional headquarters in Topeka, Kansas.
- American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (International Ministries) – International Ministries, also known as the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, works cross-culturally to invite people to become disciples of Jesus Christ and to proclaim, through both word and deed, God’s reign of justice, peace and abundant life for all creation. IM works in three Focused Impact Areas of our Work:
- Inviting people to be disciples of Jesus Christ
- Proclaiming God’s reign of justice, peace and abundant life
- Equipping the body of Christ to engage in God’s mission
- Baptist Colleges and Universities – Sixteen colleges & universities located across the United States are affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA, including Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas.
- Baptist Theological Schools and Seminaries – ten seminaries located across the United States and in Puerto Rico are affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA.
- The Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board (MMBB) – Churches and faith-based organizations have relied on MMBB to provide flexible and affordable pension plans, financial services, tools for well-being, and benefit plans for over 100 years.