We hold strongly to core beliefs of the Christian faith that would be substantially shared by most Christian churches worldwide. Our ‘Baptist’ flavour comes in two main areas.
The first is in baptism. We believe that baptism is an important step for someone who has given their life to Jesus. It is a public statement of faith and often associated with a ‘new phase’ in the life of the person being baptised. Baptist churches do not, therefore, usually baptise infants with water (sometimes called ‘Christening’) as they are unable to make their own personal choice. We wait until a person can make the decision for themselves. Baptism is usually by full immersion, meaning a complete dunking - there is a baptism pool at the back of the church for this. We know that Jesus loves to bless infants and rather than baptise them with water, we prefer to dedicate infants to Jesus. Our hope and prayer is that they will come to know him for themselves as they grow up.
The second major distinction for Baptist churches is in governance. For history buffs, this goes right back to the Reformation in the 16th century. The right to read the Bible, hear together from God and act accordingly is highly valued. This means that Shiloh church members are responsible for major decisions, such as appointing a minister or church leaders. We do not have as formal a hierarchy as some Christian denominations (for example, there is not a Baptist pope).
The church is governed by elders, who are appointed by the church members. The minister (also appointed by the church members) is the ‘presiding elder’ and church leader. The elders have primary responsibility for the spiritual leadership of the church and for bringing major matters to the attention of the members for prayer and sometimes decision by way of ballot. Our approach is more relaxed than some, preferring to be as open as possible but without losing the best of our heritage and always with a keen view to ensuring that the church is worshipping and serving Jesus first and foremost.
We rely on the generosity of the church members for funding the costs involved in running the church and it’s activities and receive no central funding from government, parish or the Baptist union. Offerings are taken at most services as an act of worship. The gifts given are then used towards the work of the church.