SANTA FE (BNM) - First Baptist Church, Santa Fe, focuses on Scripture and transformation as it ministers to state legislators and others among its congregation and city. The church strives to maintain its ministries in its political setting. To help, Pastor Reed Redus helps the church see doctrine and other issues in categories of essentials and non-essentials, encouraging freedom in the areas of non-essentials.
Redus, who assumed First Santa Fe’s pastorate in 2017 after serving on staff at First Baptist Church, Amarillo, for several years, told the Baptist New Mexican that pastoring in a state capital is a “unique opportunity.”
Each year, during the state’s legislative session, many legislators choose to worship at First Baptist during their time in Santa Fe, Redus said. The annual legislative session typically runs from January to March.
For Redus and his congregation, ministering to state legislators who attend their church is just one of several ways they witness in a highly politicized city. The church also partners with the Baptist Convention of New Mexico and the convention’s Christian Life Committee to coordinate an annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast, which coincides with the legislative session. First Baptist has also historically hosted a training session and dinner for pastors and laypersons the night before the breakfast. A third way First Baptist is involved with the state legislators is through “prayer meetings and worship events at the Roundhouse,” Redus said.
This spring, when several bills that threatened the sanctity of life were defeated, Redus said there was “a lot of praise and thanksgiving that went to the Lord. Many in the Christian community even called those Democratic-leaning legislators [who voted against the bills] and thanked them for voting for life. We had a lot of gratitude in that moment."
"It shows that progress can happen when we work together. I don't think those bills would have been defeated without those who were willing to work across the aisle and try to really create unity on some of those types of issues. That was another thing I was really grateful for - that those men and women were willing to break party lines and unify and work with people in the other party on issues that they believed in,” he added.
Even so, while he could get swept up in the political world of Santa Fe, Redus told the BNM that he continually emphasizes the centrality of Scripture in all arenas of life. At First Baptist, "the Bible is determining the teaching and preaching agenda, and therefore, it's God's agenda and not ours,” he said.
Redus has taught First Baptist’s congregation to recognize primary, secondary and tertiary issues in their individual faiths and lives, as well as in the faith and life of the body of Christ. As a church, Redus said, "We attempt to stress those issues that are essential to the Gospel. Those would be primary issues.” According to Redus, on secondary issues, the church follows the Baptist Faith & Message. “Then, there are many issues that would fall into a third category, where we believe that Christian freedom is very important and we want to give our congregants [freedom] to be who they are and [to help everyone] understand that God doesn't call us to have a uniform belief on every single issue,” he explained.
“On the Gospel and on the person and work of Jesus Christ, we need to be very unified. We are a church that loves believer's baptism. We would call that a secondary issue. We love churches of other denominations that preach the Gospel and we'll try to work with them when we can. But here, we're going to be about believer's baptism. Then there are many issues that fall into that third category. For us, we try to emphasize that people can have freedom on those," Redus said.
"When the Bible doesn't speak clearly on an issue that people are talking about in culture, we try not to speak on it, or at least not to speak and say that a person has to agree on this issue. In the Baptist Faith & Message it does talk about abortion and being for life, it does talk about religious freedom, so those are important issues to us that we'll talk about. We believe the Bible addresses those. There are almost an infinite number of other issues that come up in culture that can be in that third category where we want people to have freedom," he continued.
For Redus, regardless of the political implications of pastoring in a state capital, leading people to become more like Christ is paramount. "Our heart is to be a church, that as individuals, we are transforming into the likeness of Jesus Christ, so that as a church we will transform more into the likeness of Jesus Christ, so that we can help the world transform more into the likeness of Jesus Christ," Redus said. "Our prayer is that five years down the road we will have even greater loving relationships with all types of people in our community and that more and more of them will have come to know Jesus and look more like him, as we are ourselves.”