Why Do Churches Change Names?

Post a Comment » Written on July 20th, 2007     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (July 20, 2007) – Resurrection Covenant Church is the second Evangelical Covenant Church congregation this year to change its name in order to further its mission.

In April, a Covenant News Service online story detailed a decision by Orchard Covenant Church in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, to change its name from the Evangelical Covenant Church of Indian Orchard.

Resurrection Covenant changed from Cuyler Covenant to address confusion over the church’s location and to reflect revitalization work in the congregation.

Nancy Ebner, pastor of Orchard Covenant, explained in April that the congregation made the change because the word “evangelical” had developed a negative image among many people and that it had become too associated with politics. The congregation feared that retaining the name hindered its evangelism efforts.

The church retained the word Covenant because members are committed to the denomination and its shared mission, Ebner said.

Many Covenant churches – and the denomination – have changed names on more than one occasion. The denomination most recently changed its name in 1982 from Evangelical Covenant Church of America. Previous changes included dropping the word Swedish as the denomination expanded.

John Wenrich, director of congregational vitality for the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism, notes that “In the Scriptures, God sometimes changes a person’s name to reflect a new identity and mission.”

Making the change can be difficult because of emotional connections members have to a congregation’s longstanding name. Last December, Leadership Journal published an article by author and pastor Gordon MacDonald, who detailed how and why his congregation changed its 180-year-old name.

“I’m one who believes a church name ought to arouse curiosity, reflect congregational character or provide some sense of meaning as to why a church or organization exists,” he wrote.

After months of sometimes difficult discussion and votes that required more than 80 percent for approval, the congregation at First Baptist Church changed its name to CenterPoint Church.

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