Rensselaer has several Baptist congregations in the surrounding area. The Harvest Baptist Fellowship, north of Rensselaer at 305 E Wood Road, is the only one that seems to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. It is part of the Wabash Valley Baptist Association. Unlike some denominations, in which the local church is subservient to the larger church, the Baptists are congregational.
The first Baptist Church in the United States was organized in 1639, in Providence, RI. In 1707 several Baptist Churches began to associate with each other in Philadelphia. Although Baptists had always recognized the autonomy of the local church, they discovered cooperation in a unity of mission.According to the Church Services Directory published in the Rensselaer Republican, the pastor is Randy Gaskey. Worship services are Sunday morning at 10:45, and there are other meetings.
The Southern Baptist website explains some of the fundamental beliefs of the Southern Baptists:
Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.Wikipedia has more on its history and relationships to other Christian groups.
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
Baptists dominate the south as the maps from Valparaiso University illustrate.