Baptist Church
The name comes from the conviction that followers of Jesus Christ are commanded to be completely immersed in water as a public display of their faith, hence most Baptists reject infant 'baptism' (or Christening). The name Baptist is mentioned in the Bible, with John the Baptist, but the term Baptist for this denomination has its origins in the Anabaptists. The denomination itself was shaped largely by the English Separatist movement of the 16th century. Baptists usually are considered Protestants, although some reject that association.
Baptist churches operate on the 'Congregational' system, giving autonomy to individual local Baptist churches. Baptists traditionally have avoided the "top-down" hierarchy of Episcopalianism which is found in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and many other churches. However, Baptist churches will often associate in denominational groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention, National Baptist Convention USA, Conservative Baptist Association of America, American Baptist Churches USA, American Baptist Association (Landmark Baptists), among others.

Roger Williams and 
Dr. John Clarke, both working for religious freedom, are credited as founding the early Baptist church in America. In 1639, Williams established a Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island and Clarke began a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island. It is not known which was the earliest.

There are over 90 million Baptists worldwide in nearly 300,000 congregations, with an estimated 47 million members in the United States. Baptists also exist in
India (2.4 million), Nigeria (2.3 million), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1.9 million) and Brazil (1.5 million) as well as Asia, Africa and Latin America.
According to a poll in the 1990s, about one in five in the United States claims to be a Baptist. U.S. Baptists are represented in more than fifty separate groups. Ninety-two percent of Baptists are found in five of those bodies — the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC); National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (NBC); National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.; (NBCA); American Baptist Churches in the USA (ABC); and Baptist Bible Fellowship International (BBFI).

Only those people who are baptized members of a local Baptist church are included in the total number of Baptists. Most Baptist churches do not have an age restriction on membership, but will not accept as a member a child that is considered too young to fully understand and make a profession of faith of their own volition and comprehension. In such cases, the pastor and parents usually meet together with the child to verify the child's comprehension of the decision to follow Jesus. There are instances where a person makes a profession of faith but fails to follow through with believers' baptism. In such case they are considered "saved" but not a church member until baptized. If children and unbaptized congregants were counted, world Baptists may number over 100 million.


Links



National Baptist Convention of America
American Baptist Churches in the USA
Baptist Bible Fellowship International

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