‘Year of the River’ Inspires Name Change for Church

Post a Comment » Written on December 7th, 2004     
Filed under: News
ORANGE, CA (December 7, 2004)  – Orange Covenant Church, a southern California  congregation, voted to change its name to River47 during a recent  congregational meeting, senior pastor Frank Riley said.

The new moniker is in line with the church’s vision, which is taken from  Ezekiel 47:1-9, added Riley, who will begin his fourth year at the  church in January. A number of factors played into the decision, he  said. The church designated 2004 as “The Year of The River” as it prepared to change the name.

“We felt the Lord was asking us to focus on existing for the community  around us, seeking to bring God’s life to everything we touched,” Riley  said of the change. “Core values of becoming a River Wide (keeping  growth and seeking to bring persons different than ourselves) and a  River Deep (depth of relationship with fellow believers; depth of  commitment to Christ’s church past, present, future; depth of  relationship with the Triune God and mysteries of the faith, depth of  care for a broken world) were developed. As we moved through the year, we realized that being a “river church” –  whatever that meant – was becoming central to our identity and sense of  the Lord’s call for this congregation.”

After establishing that it wished to change its name, the church  received suggestions from the congregation before deciding on “River47.”  The congregation believed that the name itself would be a conversation  starter, giving parishioners an opportunity to explain the church’s vision. And, because the word “Covenant” was part of the names  of other area congregations, it had confused some seeking to find a church.

River47 would still be under the name Orange Covenant Church in its  legal documents. However, publicity materials are reflecting the new  moniker as River47, an Evangelical Covenant Church, clarifying the  denominational status.

Although the new name of his church is unique, the person who suggested  the name is also unique. The individual lived in a rehabilitation  facility across the street from the church and gave their life to Christ  while awaiting trial for a crime that had been committed. The individual  is currently serving a sentence at a correctional facility, but is still  connected with the church and supported by its members.

“We thought it was amazing that the name we were led to should come from  a member of our body that was most peripheral and seeking to bring life  to others in a place many might consider the most barren of wastelands,  the state’s correctional system,” said Riley.

Founded in 1960 as Bethel Covenant Church, River47 has an average  worship attendance of around 200. It is located in a city of 100,000  that is one hour away from Los Angeles. A unique discussion group format  has served the function as a Sunday school ministry. Riley answers  questions about previous sermons and adds details that might not have  been covered. The process is “taking the text of a sermon a few steps  deeper,” said Riley. “In this way, even first-time visitors have a frame  of reference.”

For more information about the church and its ministries, call  714-633-6464 or visit the church’s current website at www.ocov.com. The  updated site, www.river47.org, will be in operation soon, Riley said.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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