Reimagining Church

Thriving Congregations Initiative: New Models for the 21st Century

First Baptist Church of Branford

church exterior

The First Baptist Church of Branford is located on the Town Green at 975 Main Street. As described in Volume 1 of Everett G. Hill’s A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918):

“Some members of a former strife blazed up again when in 1838 some Baptists from Wallingford proposed to establish a church of that faith in Branford. There was opposition as soon as they sought a site for a building. For a time they worshipped in private houses. Their first public baptism was held in the river near Neck Bridge in 1838, and naturally attracted a crowd. Finally the town fathers kindly consented to let the new brethren build on the site of the old whipping post on the green, and there they did in 1840. The building was improved in 1866, and still serves the people.”[1]

They are an American Baptist (ABCUSA) congregation organized in 1838 with a rich history of worship and community presence.

In February 2022, First Baptist Church hired its 27th minister, AJ Smith. Since then, the leadership has crafted new vision, mission, and values statements to chart a path forward after the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of the congregation is retirement age, yet a handful of young families and singles are in the membership. Nonetheless, First Baptist Church is a community and mission-oriented congregation passionate about social justice, sharing meals, doing outreach, and studying the Bible together. They are in a season of transition, and most of the congregation is open to revitalization.


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