Name Change Process

From the Name Change Task Force:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Your Name Change Task Force has been hard at work this summer, and we want to send you an interim report on both our process and our progress in accomplishing the work you set before us.

As you recall, the Task Force was formed to recommend a new name for Colonial Church. After the recommendation is made, the Church Council will schedule a congregational meeting at which that potential new name would be put to a congregational vote. Together, we would decide whether the recommended name should become the name of our church.

To accomplish our work, the Task Force has met weekly this summer. First, we established a process. It’s pretty simple, and it accomplishes all we need to do:

* Establish criteria to use to evaluate names, with congregational input
* Develop a list of potential names, with congregational input
* Evaluate those names, with congregational input
* Recommend a potential new name

The Task Force is working with a consultant, Malley Design, as we move through this process. Malley has worked with several churches and non-profits, including helping The Sheridan Story change its name to Every Meal. Bryan Malley, their Creative Director, is attending task force meetings and is providing helpful insights and an outside perspective to the process the Task Force is leading. If we should vote to change our name, Malley would likely work with the church to help implement the change.

In June, we sought input on the criteria we’ll use to evaluate potential new names. Many thanks to all of you who offered input on this subject. About 70 of you participated in our information-gathering session on June 27, either in person or on Zoom. Others provided input by email. By letting us know more about what you want our name to say about us, you helped us develop the criteria we'll use to evaluate potential names for our church.

Here's what you said our name should communicate about us. Our name should:

* align with our Core Values
* be welcoming and inviting
* be Christ-centered
* evoke a sense of community
* acknowledge our history and tradition
* spark curiosity
* speak across generations
* make people feel safe
* reflect our desire to be seekers
* reflect our desire to do good in the world

The Task Force also discussed a series of pragmatic and functional criteria that we'll also use to evaluate potential names. Any possible new name should:

* be legally available to register in the State of Minnesota
* be unique enough within the broader Twin Cities area to avoid confusion
* be non-offensive
* be easy to pronounce and spell
* be relatively short
* indicate that we are a Christian community

It's time to suggest potential new names!

We are a congregation full of ideas! Many thanks to those of you who have shared potential names with us. We have received several dozen to date, and know that more are coming. If you have ideas about potential new names for our congregation, we want to hear them! Please send them to us at We're looking for names that align with what you've told us, that work in a practical sense, and that reflect both who we are and who we aspire to be. We can't wait to see your ideas!

We have one more request of you: please pray. Pray that the Spirit of God would bring all of us wisdom and discernment as we move forward in this important work.

Joining you in prayer,
The Name Change Task Force
Marissa Stark (Chair)
Rick Didora
David Engelbert
Haley Larson
Bob Neal
Ady Phillips
Marilyn Reilly
Elaine Sloan
Shelby Wagner
Mary Fisher (Council Liaison)
Andrew Zhao (Staff Liaison)

Name Change Task Force

Marissa Stark (Chair)
Ady Phillips
Shelby Wagner
Rick Didora

Haley Larson
David Engelbert
Elaine Sloan
Marilyn Reilly
Bob Neal
Mary Fisher (Council Liaison)
Andrew Zhao (Staff Liaison)

Looking for more context?

This conversation to consider changing our name goes back to Summer 2020. For more on the background and initial reasons for considering the change, click here.

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 Announced (January 22, 2021)
611 members voted to affirm or reject Council's recommendation to change our name. With 375 "Yes" votes and 236 "No" votes, this vote does not meet the two-thirds majority passing requirements to change our name.

For more on the results and responses from Leadership, click here.
Leadership Update (January 27, 2021)
Following the results of the vote, the Church Council and Pastoral Team shared an update regarding the next season of our life together. Click here to read it.
Members Request Special Church Meeting (May 8, 2021)
114 Church members submitted a request for a Special Church Meeting to vote on a resolution to launch a Task Force with the ultimate goal of recommending a new name to vote on. Click here to learn more about the request and the resolution.
Special Church Meeting Results (May 23, 2021)
On May 23rd, we held a Special Church Meeting to consider and vote on the following resolution brought forward by Colonial Church members:

“Resolved, the Colonial Church Council is hereby authorized and directed to establish a task force, subject to Council oversight, that is charged with leading a process that has its goal to recommend a new name for Colonial Church. In fulfilling the intent of this resolution, the Council will: determine the number of task force members; select the chair and other task force members that, collectively, is demographically diverse; receive and approve an implementation plan from the task force within a reasonable period of time after the task force is formed; and, assure that the congregation will receive two interim reports from the task force and have at least two opportunities for congregation input in public meetings prior to the task force making its final recommendation. In addition, the task force shall be asked to recommend ways to permanently record and honor the history and legacy of our Church over the last 75 years.”

The vote was tallied 166-27 in favor of passing the resolution. The resolution required a simple majority to pass; therefore, this vote successfully met the requirements to authorize the Council to establish a task force with the ultimate goal of recommending a new name to vote on at a later date.