Core Values

Our core values are: Soul Freedom, Mission, Spiritual Growth & Inclusivity.

Soul Freedom

Soul Freedom rests at the heart and core of our Baptist heritage. It is the key to understanding all that we do. Soul freedom is the deep conviction that every person has the ability to enter into their own personal, direct and immediate relationship to God through Jesus Christ. Within this church, neither the pastors nor the denomination can tell you what you must believe as a Christian, how you must understand the Bible, or what it means for you to personally follow Jesus Christ. Nothing is allowed to oppress or intrude upon your personal following of Jesus Christ. Soul freedom also means that the congregation is self-governing. Although we are in a covenant relationship with other churches within our denomination, the denomination cannot direct the life and witness of this congregation. In all matters of faith and practice, it is finally this local congregation’s responsibility to follow Christ to the best of our own understanding.


As followers of Jesus Christ, we know ourselves called to care for the larger world through mission to others. This is at the heart of Jesus’ command to love others as we do ourselves. This core value can best be defined by the actions it inspires. Beyond our rich financial support of our denomination’s witness and worldwide mission, First Baptist’s mission has a long history of social advocacy on issues of race, poverty and social justice. We were, in many ways, the birth place of campus ministry, a strong commitment that continues today. We are active players in “The Crossing” a ministry to students on the UW Madison campus. We participate regularly in Madison’s homeless men’s shelter meal program and support Mt. Zion Baptist’s food pantry through monthly food donations. Our members are on the Board of Directors of the American Baptist Housing Ministry of Wisconsin, one of the largest providers of low-income housing in Wisconsin. Our mission has a rich international flavor as well. In cooperation with Madison Friends of International Students, we house a program providing English classes to as many as eighty students from twenty-six nations. In addition, individual members provide for the education (elementary through high school) of over ninety AIDS orphans in China.

Spiritual Growth

We deeply believe that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are invited to follow him on a path of our own spiritual growth. Spiritual growth involves many areas of our personal life not limited to our growth in love of God, self and neighbor; discovering our God-given giftedness; discovering our own passion to serve Jesus Christ through our personal lives; finding our own kind of prayer-life; growing in our understanding of the Bible; learning about issues of justice and human suffering in our larger world.


Inclusivity means that we as a congregation strive to fully include all persons within our membership regardless of sex, sexual or gender identity, race or cultural heritage. We have a long history that has long included women in full positions of leadership and ministry. We try to remain alert to matters of institutional racism and cultural inclusivity. We have been described by others as one of Madison’s most inclusive congregations.