What is a Baptist Church?

Portobello Baptist Church: Along with other Baptist Christians we at Portobello Baptist Church have a number of core beliefs. They are similar to those of other churches. The fundamental truths of the Christian faith would be the same for all Christian churches. We believe in One God. We believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that He died for our sins. We believe in Heaven and Hell, and that people can be healed and forgiven. We believe that no-one is beyond the reach of a loving God. The “Baptist” bit refers to the fact that we do not baptise children. We baptise people who have come to understand and believe in Jesus. We baptise by immersion. Apart from that we believe pretty much the same as all orthodox Christians. In Portobello, we work alongside all of the other Christian Groups. We are part of a network of Baptist churches called the Baptist Union of Scotland.

Will my children be catered for?

Portobello Baptist Church: Until recently the average age of the church was quite high with a majority of retired people. In its heyday it was packed with young people. We believe that day is returning. Recent growth which has nearly trebled the morning congregation suggests this is true. Come along and muck in! There aren’t many kids just now but how will the numbers grow if you don’t bring them? We would challenge parents to bring their children and get involved in the children’s activities themselves. If enough do that, we can have a rota so that parents are not looking after children every week.

Do you REALLY believe a declining church in the 21st century can change?

Portobello Baptist Church: It’s already happening. Get on board! Our challenge is for people to become part of a team that is experiencing renewal and resurrection. The hope and prayers of the faithful in Portobello Baptist is now being honoured. It will certainly not be easy, but then who said that following a Crucified Saviour was going to be easy? He just promised He would be with us, and that He would lead us all the way.

So is this something new you are doing? What about the folk that have been in the church for years? Are they on board?

Portobello Baptist Church: Absolutely. The sense of anticipation is tangible. One of the most radical people in the Bible was Caleb. He was a formidable soldier at eighty five! John the Baptist’s parents were well past pensionable age when he was born. We have a few radicals in our church. A few Calebs….. But there’s always room for some more.

I notice a coffee shop next to the church. Whose is that? When does it open?

Portobello Baptist Church: That belongs to the church. It is fully equipped. We have recently had the frontage of the church fixed. We have started using the coffee shop on selected Saturdays, to raise money for good causes. We raised four hundred pounds for Haiti, two hundred for hunger in Chad, three hundred for the children of migrant workers in Thailand….. and so on. We might have a café style church, we will run our “journeys” course there, and we may have a drop in chill out / reflective prayer space for tired shoppers to find the still centre in their busy world. Some of our facilities are already used by community groups. We are open to that happening more.

It doesn’t look like a church. Where are the bells? Where is the spire?

Portobello Baptist Church: It used to be the Portobello Town Hall. In a previous life it was a dance hall, and a cinema. In fact you can still see he ticket booth on the right before you ascend the stairs to the first floor worship area.

I’d like to help out, but I’m not a Christian. Is that okay?

Portobello Baptist Church: Jesus welcomed all comers. So do we. Of course we have ways to help people grasp what the Message is all about – the teachings and life of Jesus. Come along and learn.

What should I wear to church?

Portobello Baptist Church: It’s really up to you; it’s not a big deal to us. A few will be really dressed up, a few will be really dressed down, but most will be casual and comfortable.

What is the expectation of a first time visitor?

Portobello Baptist Church: Just come and be our welcome guest! You will be welcomed at the door and shown where to go. We won’t draw attention to you or make you feel uncomfortable.

How can I learn more about the Christian faith? I never went to Sunday School and really don’t know much.

Portobello Baptist Church: Don’t worry. We are all learners. None of us has arrived. There are courses you can attend to help you understand more. We have a discussion time on Wednesdays where you can ask questions about the talk given on the Sunday. You can also speak with the minister or any regular attendee.

What happens if I come and the door is locked?

Portobello Baptist Church: Ring the bell and someone will come down to let you in.