Before my senior year, my vision of community was Williams, but not Williamstown. Though I had been coming to FBC since my first Sunday in the Berkshires, I was like the law expert who asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” when he already knew who he considered his neighbors: people who were just like him.
Slowly, God began opening my eyes to places within FBC where He wants me to serve, such as the fellowship luncheons and the Yes Way! Bible school for kids. As I’ve become more involved, I’ve found more and more that I am a part of this community. Young or old, Berkshire-born or newcomer, God calls each of us his son or daughter. I’m learning to see how our differences pale in comparison to what we have in common — or as Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
The church has been a rock for me all through the ups and downs of college. Reaching out year after year to self-absorbed college students must feel like having guests constantly pass through your house, but it has been such a blessing to me. I’m very grateful that FBC decided long ago to situate itself right on our campus, choosing to dwell among us as Jesus did. My understanding of God’s kingdom would be far poorer without the fellowship I’ve experienced at FBC.
Inez Tan, Williams Class of 2012
After arriving from Washington State as a freshman at Williams College, I started attending the First Baptist Church of Williamstown. I was welcomed into the church community right away, and soon found myself “adopted” by a local family through the church’s home-away-from-home program for students. My new church family offered me a stable hearth during this transitional period, and the generational, socioeconomic, and ethnic diversity at the First Baptist Church contributed greatly to my personal maturity.
Moreover, when Pastor Peter Daniels found out that I intended to go to seminary, he invested significant time and energy toward mentoring me. He gave me opportunities to preach, offered active feedback, and encouraged me to step up to various leadership roles within the church. For this reason, my four years at the First Baptist Church were very fruitful and formative.
The theologically-grounded and Gospel-centered ministry of the First Baptist Church is an invaluable source of spiritual nourishment for Williams College students. It motivates an otherwise insular Christian student population to get involved in the broader Williamstown community, fostering a partnership that is beneficial to all. I thank God for the ministry of the First Baptist Church!
Shawn Woo, Williams Class of 2009
Though it’s been a few years since I graduated from Williams College (Anastasia Brathwaite, ’09) and settled back at home in New York, my heart is still very much in Williamstown with the people of First Baptist Church. I began to attend FBC towards the end of my first year at Williams, largely because many of my friends from Williams Christian Fellowship went there. I was truly touched by how warmly I was received by people at church from day 1, and it didn’t take me very long to decide that FBC was the church in which I wanted to plant myself during my college years.
There are so many things that I loved about being a part of the congregation at FBC. I really treasured the “Joys & Concerns” portion of each service in which we could be real with each other as a community, share where we were in our individual life journeys, and support one another. I absolutely LOVED the Fellowship Luncheons that FBC would host monthly; having great conversations with people over delicious home-cooked food meant the world to me as a college student who grew homesick from time to time. I truly appreciated that local members of the church were given the opportunity to “adopt” college students and integrate them into their own families – that’s how I came to know and grow close to the wonderful Klass family. Another major highlight of being part of FBC was having the chance to be a part of the Women’s Small Group during my senior year at Williams. Though I was the youngest member in the group, I never felt out of place; rather, I relished having the chance to be with women who felt like mothers, aunts, and sisters, talk about Jesus, and glean wisdom from them. These are but a few examples of the wonderful experiences I had while attending FBC during my years at Williams. All in all, FBC was more than just a church: it was a community and my extended family. The love, support, and generosity shown to me greatly enriched my four years in Williamstown and impacted me greatly, even to this day.
Anastasia Brathwaite, Class of 2009
I could write at length about the many positives of FBC Williamstown: the warm and inviting atmosphere fostered by the church family, the thought-provoking and personal homilies, the enthusiasm for worship – these were among the reasons that I proudly called this church home for four years. But these are descriptions well-covered by other testimonials; I want to focus on something even more vital to my collegiate experience: my friendship with Pastor Pete Daniels and the entire Daniels family as well as with other church families.
I simply cannot say enough about what the Daniels family did for me during my four years as a student at Williams. There were lunch meetings to discuss theological matters and dinner get-togethers to discuss dating matters, hugs after church and high fives after touchdowns (as I would often head over to the Daniels’ house to watch football on Sunday). There were late night conversations near the warmth of the fireplace and movie nights for all the students with hearty discussion to follow. When I got the phone call that my grandpa had passed away during the Sunday service, Pastor Pete was there with a bear hug. Mrs. Daniels was so caring that I starting calling her Mama Mel. Imagine me, a twenty-year-old college student, bustling with joy because Pastor Pete’s son had invited me to his birthday party to play capture the flag.
Look: I can assure you that you will grow spiritually if you attend FBC. You don’t need to worry about whether or not the worship will be revenant, or if the message will be theologically sound or if you’ll feel welcomed (probably by Gloria!) when you walk thought the large wooden doors. But my four years at FBC were so much more. I grew up in a somewhat broken home, as my parents split when I was ten. When I went to Williams College, I didn’t just find a church family; I found the warmth and the security of a real family. It meant so much to me.
Andy Morgosh, Williams Class of 2012
Towards the end of my first semester in Williamstown, I decided to make First Baptist my church home in Williamstown. My early impressions of First Baptist suggested that it embodied many of the things I was hoping for in a church — a small, supportive congregation that was theologically evangelical but politically open, and that blended both traditional and contemporary music — and my years at college confirmed those hopes. I loved beginning the week by seeking peace before God among a group of people from different seasons in life. I have been blessed by the vulnerability and trust in the First Baptist community, whether demonstrated from the pulpit during the sermon or from the pews during the weekly sharing of joys and concerns, and I continue to be blessed by the lessons and friendships that I gained.
May there be a lot of unity and joy as God reveals more of His vision for First Baptist!
with love and prayers,
Yue-Yi Hwa, Williams Class of 2011
My name is James Kim (Williams College c/o 2008), and I attended The First Baptist Church of Williamstown, MA during all four years of college. As a pre-med student far from home in a new bubble surrounded by the Berkshires, my freshman year was filled with overwhelming anxiety and uncertainty. During my search for a long-term church, The First Baptist Church cordially invited me into its family, and those feelings of trepidation dwindled as I immersed myself in the presence of Christian brothers and sisters. I will always remember being greeted by Pastor Peter Daniels with his big smile and personable demeanor. I immediately found myself drawn to the ministry, predominantly due to the leaders who showed me the love of Christ and lived out their faith. I had the pleasure of working closely with Pastor Daniels while serving in the praise ministry, and it was very evident to both of us that God was drawing more and more college students to the church. To me, The First Baptist Church was a homey, intimate sanctuary that offered God-honoring worship, compelling sermons, caring leaders who were readily willing to intercede and pray for me, and most importantly, a Christian family that held me accountable amidst my busy schedule in a worldly environment. It was a place that harbored spiritual growth and advocated college students. As a 4thyear medical student in Washington, DC, I currently serve at a local church in Maryland, and I attribute a lot of my spiritual growth and maturity to all the blessings I received at The First Baptist Church through Pastor Daniels, my fellow leaders, and the congregation members. I will never forget the positively influential impact that The First Baptist Church had on my life, and I know that God will continue to use it to reach out to and bless many more college students in the future.
James Kim, Williams Class 2008
InterVarsity Staff: 2007-2010, Williams College Fellowship
I arrived in Williamstown during the summer of 2007 to begin as the InterVarsity staff worker for the Williams Christian Fellowship. It was during the first several weeks I met pastor Pete Daniels, and soon after I began attending First Baptist. For four years I attended First Baptist and my faith grew in countless ways through the church’s ministry. I was challenged by the preaching, instructed by the examples of older Christians and older marriages, and encouraged by the community. It was also a wonderful experience to together share our faith with the Williamstown community.
However, the most significant thing I witnessed during my four years was the church’s impact on Williams College students. In FBC and its leaders I found genuine partners in the ministry of the gospel to the Williams campus. On an average Sunday 30-40 Williams students attend the church, FBC members attend on-campus events, and perhaps most importantly personally mentor students while in college. For Christian students, FBC is a place to grow in faith and learn to be part of and minister through a multi-generational church. For students who are not yet followers of Jesus, the church is a community where they will both hear and see the gospel in its fullness and be offered the opportunity to respond.
I am grateful for the ministry of First Baptist Church to me, the students with whom I served, and the broader Williamstown community. Through it the gospel is going forth in the lives of so many.
InterVarsity Staff: 2007-2010
Williams Christian Fellowship