The First Baptist Church of Lynchburg is a congregation of free and faithful Baptist Christians seeking to live out our calling as the Spirit of God leads us. We hold to four classic, historic principles of Baptist liberty in fulfilling that call:
We believe that a church is an autonomous group of baptized believers brought together by God for the purpose of worship, ministry, and the carrying out God’s mission of reconciliation in the world. We believe that each church makes its own decisions regarding matters of belief and practice without the interference of councils or outside governing boards or conventions.
We believe that “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV) In interpreting what the scripture means for us today, we believe that each Christian believer has the duty and responsibility to interpret the scripture for himself/herself under the direction of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
We believe that every person is competent to stand before God and able to make the decisions that affect his/her spiritual condition without the interference of creeds, clergy, or government. Faith is always voluntary—never coerced. Baptist George W. Truett encapsulated the concept of soul freedom when he declared from the steps of the U. S. Capitol in 1920, “God wants free worshipers, and no other kind.”
We believe that the best way for faith and religious practice to flourish is to be unhindered by the constraints of government interference. Therefore we believe that the separation of church and state is vital to the health of both. No one has articulated this principle any better than Virginia Baptist minister John Leland who wrote in 1791, “Let every man speak freely without fear, maintain the principles that he believes, worship according to his own faith, either one god, three gods, twenty gods, or no gods; and let the government protect him in so doing.”
Paul became the 33rd pastor of the First Baptist Church in November 2014. He received the Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Montevallo (1979) and the Master of Divinity in Church Music degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1992).
In addition, he has pursued postgraduate studies at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, Sewanee School of Theology, and Emmanuel Christian Seminary. Since 1980, he has served local churches in a variety of capacities in Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and Tokyo, Japan. He is married to the former Miriam Marie Goodwin of Talladega, AL and they have two sons, Will and Raleigh. Among his interests are hymnology, Civil War history, and Cajun/Creole cuisine.
His musical passions include the Renaissance lute music of John Dowland, shape-note singing, Bob Dylan, U2, and The Gaslight Anthem among many others.
In obedience to our Lord’s command to take the gospel to “the ends of the earth,” these are our ministry organizations with which we partner: