Frequently Asked Questions
While we always welcome the opportunity to talk to you individually about Columbia and the many programs and opportunities here, we have found that the answers to some of the following questions are helpful to individuals and families as they are getting to know us better. We hope you will find them informative, but if you have other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us by indicating your question on the Columbia Connection Card and turning it in or by phoning the Church at 703-534-5700. We look forward to talking with you.
- Tell me about your Senior Pastor
- How do I become a member?
- Why should I become a member?
- Do I need to be baptized? Why?
- What is family dedication?
- What is Columbia's denominational affiliation?
- What is the church's history?
- How do I get involved?
- What do I do if I want to talk to a minister?
- How do I notify Columbia that my personal information has changed?
Dr. Jim Baucom was called as Columbia’s Senior Pastor in 2002, having served a Baptist congregation in Lynchburg, Virginia, for nine years. Wherever he has been, his ministry has involved growing established churches. Jim was born in North Carolina and reared in Virginia, and he holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond, a master’s degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary. He has been a leader in state, national, and international Baptist organizations, and a consultant and speaker to numerous non-profit and corporate entities. He has been married to his college sweetheart, Debbie, since 1987, and has two daughters, Marlee and Kelly.
A person may become a member of Columbia through profession of faith in Jesus Christ and believer’s baptism, by transfer of membership from another church, or by statement of faith in Christ and prior believer’s baptism. This can be accomplished by public statement following any of our worship services, though the actual vote of the congregation for membership is taken at the next business session. Our expectation is that every new Columbian take part in a course called “The Columbia Way”. Taught by our Senior Pastor, this class is designed to introduce them to our church, our doctrine, our practice, and the basics of Christian discipleship.
Membership is a commitment that signifies a Christian’s full inclusion in the church family. While a full member is entitled to an equal voice and vote in all matters of church governance, this is not the most important reason to consider membership. We like to compare membership to the marriage covenant. Sure, a man and woman who love each other could choose to “live together” unmarried, but they would miss out on the greatest intimacy that is possible through a life of commitment. It is fine simply to attend Columbia, and persons are welcome to do so without commitment as long as they like. But sooner or later, we will all probably desire more. You will want to be acknowledged as a full part of the church, and we will want to welcome you into the family.
Like a wedding ceremony, baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. It is a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ offered to your new church family. Baptism does not “save” you, but it is an act that symbolically seals your relationship to the Christian family. In our tradition, we baptize only those old enough to make personal commitments to follow Christ. We baptize by immersion in water, which dramatizes the burial and resurrection of Jesus and thus the new life of a believer. Since baptism is a shared experience within the church family, we expect all our full members to take part in this meaningful ceremony.
Columbia does not practice infant baptism, since we believe that a person should not be baptized until they are old enough to understand their commitment to Christ. As a congregation, we do celebrate the commitment of families to Jesus Christ upon the arrival of a new child. Some people and churches call this “child dedication,” but it is really a public commitment offered by the child’s parents that they will raise their child in a Christ-honoring home. Many churches perform family dedications en masse, often on Mother’s Day. We perform each family dedication individually, because we believe the arrival of each new child into a Christian family is a sacred and special moment that warrants the church’s celebration.
Columbia is a Christian church in the Baptist tradition, so it operates independently of any outside control. In our tradition, we call this “local church autonomy,” and it means that the congregation governs itself. In accomplishing its mission of “Igniting Passion for Jesus Christ from Metro Washington to the World,” Columbia chooses to cooperate with several local, state, national, and international partners, including the Northstar Church Network (a Northern Virginia Association of Baptist congregations), the Baptist General Association of Virginia, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the Baptist World Alliance.
Columbia was founded in 1856 by a group of seven men and women who joined together to form a new church in the small community of Falls Church, Virginia. Originally on Broad Street, it moved to its current location in 1909 to accommodate its need for more space. Since then it has grown steadily with the community and has started many innovative programs and ministries including multiple language congregations, a Child Development Center, the Columbia Institute of Fine Arts, the Columbia Center for Missions, and World Friends (an ESOL program); and a partnership with the India Baptist Convention, World Vision International, and the John Leland Center for Theological Studies to name just a few. With the calling of Dr. Baucom as Senior Pastor, Columbia continues its rich history of serving people near the nation’s capital in innovative and exciting ways.
There are many ways to get involved in the life of Columbia. Here are some suggestions:
- Regularly attend one of our weekly Worship Services.
- Join a Bible Study (Ignition Group) - offered on Sunday mornings and throughout the week for various age groups and life stages.
- Attend The Columbia Way. Taught by our Senior Pastor and other church leaders, this course will provide you with an overview of our church and our faith.
- Join us on Wednesday nights (Sept 16-June) for dinner and Bible Study!
- Join a Columbia Cares family. Assigned by zip code, these small, deacon-led groups allow our members and regular attenders to periodically connect with those living closest to them.
- Serve with us! Many opportunities exist for you to join in ministry at Columbia. Current ways to Get Involved are also available on our Ministry Wall.
In addition to these ideas, we would be happy to meet with you individually to assist you as you get connected at Columbia. Please email Linda Olson or call 703-534-5740 x284.
If you would like to speak to a minister, you may indicate that on the Connection Card and place it in the offering plate or bring it to the Welcome Center on Sunday mornings. Be sure to include your name and phone number. In addition, you may always call the church office at 703-534-5700. Email addresses for staff members are on our website.
Please use the CBC Personal Information Change Form to update your personal information in our records.