Name Change

Past Name Change Updates

Name Change Introduction (July 26, 2020)

This church, this community of faith, this body of Christ has been responding from our very beginning to the Great Commandment—to love God, and to love our neighbors.

Yet it's become more clear in recent years — now more than ever in light of George Floyd's killing — that the name "Colonial" bears a legacy that's painful for neighbors we're seeking to know, love, and partner alongside.

When we originally chose this name, we were moved by the best parts of the first Pilgrims: a deep love for Jesus, unrelenting belief that God speaks through Scripture, and loving commitment to the good of our neighbors.

But now, we're acknowledging that the word "Colonial" doesn't mean to our neighbors what it did to our original community. Because the word also evokes the worst parts of our history as Americans, our history of colonialism, the domination, exploitation, and destruction primarily of Native American and African people and their cultures.

This isn't Jesus, who became human to reconcile us to God in one body, creating peace in response to hostility (Ephesians 2:14-16). This isn't what we're about as Jesus' followers, either.

As a result, the Church Council, in conversation with lay leadership, approved a motion in June to recommend changing our congregation's name.

Beginning on Sunday, July 26th, we'd like to start a conversation as a community about our name. In the coming days, we'll be doing the same thing we've always done for the last 75 years: sharing, listening, praying, and discerning the Spirit of God's next invitation to us.

We're praying that engaging in this process will help us embrace the best parts of our Congregational heritage while moving us closer to our Core Values, creating a community where we can welcome all our neighbors as God's beloved and courageously wrestling with tensions in God's world.
Update from the Moderators (July 31, 2020)

After introducing the process for considering changing our name, our Moderators gave an update to clarify a few things.

To read more about that update, click here.
Summer Courtyard Conversations (August - September)

This name change process takes lots of conversation, sharing our stories, and discerning where God’s Spirit is leading us next.⁠

That's why we made space for all those things in our first round of Courtyard Conversations. For more on what and why behind our summer Courtyard Conversations, click here.
Discernment Process (Fall 2020)
Throughout Fall 2020, we engaged in a comprehensive process to understand the reasons behind changing and not changing our name from Colonial Church. Across multiple mediums, our congregation brought their whole selves into discerning where Jesus is inviting us next as we look toward our Congregational Vote in January 2021, where members will decide whether to affirm or reject the motion to change our name from Colonial Church.

For more on all that took place during that season, click here.
Voting Period (December 18, 2020 - January 15, 2021)
Since we initiated the process to discern whether we ought to change our name from Colonial Church, we are deeply grateful for how you’ve engaged in the journey alongside us.
You’ve read a position paper outlining the reasons to consider the change. You’ve attended four Town Hall Meetings and thirteen Courtyard Conversations. You’ve weighed over a dozen community commentaries from both sides, not to mention all the countless times and places where you sought to discern God’s Spirit in prayer or conversation with a friend. The Congregational Way is alive and shining, and you all bear witness to it.

In December 2020 and January 2021, members cast their vote to affirm or reject changing the name from Colonial Church. Our Moderators sent out a letter via USPS detailing how members would cast their vote affirming or rejecting the decision to change our name from Colonial Church. Click here to read that letter.

Name Change Results Announcement Letter from the Moderators

We have finished counting the votes regarding changing our name from Colonial Church of Edina, and the results are as follows:

Per The Colonial Church of Edina's by-laws, an alternative method of voting may be authorized if approved by the majority of those voting.

Yes, I approve voting by ballot (589 - 96.2%)
No, I don't approve voting by ballot (23 - 3.8%)

The Colonial Church of Edina should change its name.

Yes (375 - 61.5%)
No (236 - 38.5%)

The vote required a two-thirds majority to affirm Council's recommendation; therefore, this vote does not meet the passing requirements to change our name.

Before saying anything else, we invite each of you to pause, take a deep breath, and recognize the emotion that likely accompanies this announcement, regardless of how you voted.

Throughout what has thus been a nearly six-month process, it's clear to anybody engaged that we aren't voting on a building addition or a technical amendment to our by-laws. It involves our stories, our values, and, for some, even our sense of safety.

As your Moderators, we are no exception. While we are firmly committed to upholding our polity as outlined in our by-laws and will not continue the next steps to choosing a new name at this time, we share in the disappointment and grief these results surface for the majority who voted to affirm the change. After all, this vote to change our name now has the full support of Council, Staff, Ministers, and 61.5% of voting members.

In hindsight, we regret allowing voting to be open before our Special Church Meeting on January 10th. We lament that hundreds of us cast our ballots before that meeting, not leaving space for God's Spirit to speak to us through each other at the meeting itself. We felt the Spirit's presence so powerfully there as members shared their stories and discernment with such courage and vulnerability, and we were sad to hear from those who wished to change their vote after attending the meeting but couldn’t because their vote was already cast.

This listening for God's Spirit, as you know, didn't start with this name change process. It's the only way for us to be the faithful expression of Christ's body that God is calling us to be. Since we began our journey of discernment last Summer, the question of changing our name has felt deeply tied to the vision Jeff shared in Winter 2020 as a candidate for Senior Minister. More than anything, Jeff's vision was about God's inviting us to a new future, one which centered on welcoming and loving the neighbors on the other side of our iconic bridge.

We have already voted "Yes" to that vision. As we continue listening for God's Spirit, our call is not to consider whether we extend Welcome, Beloved to our neighbors on the other side of our bridge. That much has become clear to our congregation. Our call is to consider how and what it means to extend that welcome.

So in the coming weeks, we will be taking time to understand each of the 611 votes submitted.

We know that each vote meant something different to each member. For those who voted "No" - some do not think the name needs to be changed; others perhaps felt unsettled about considering this vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some never felt right about the process itself. And for those who voted "Yes" - some have always felt conflicted about its ties to colonialism, some voted to clear the barrier it created for our neighbors, and still others voted because of the stories and experiences that were shared throughout the last six months.

As we continue the work of listening for God's Spirit together, know that we will be putting together a survey to understand each of these votes. Following this inventory, we will be hosting Town Hall Meetings where we will have space to share about our future and who we will be going forward. With the full support of Council, Staff, Ministers, and 61.5% of voting members, we sense it’s our responsibility to continue the conversation.

In the meantime, we invite you to share your thoughts with us by emailing us at moderator@colonialchurch.org.

Friends, listening for God's Spirit is our ongoing work. And as we discern the Spirit’s invitation, may we continue to deepen both our love for Jesus and our desire to extend welcome to all of our neighbors.

Seeking Christ and our neighbor's good with you,
John Seaberg, Moderator
Cheryl Southard, Vice Moderator

As we continue our listening and discernment, we want to hear from you.

What questions do you have?
What information would be helpful?
How would you like to process this together?


Let us know by emailing namechange@colonialchurch.org. Keep tabs here for updates on our journey together.
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