Task Force Name Recommendation (September 26, 2021)
This morning, we are ready and excited to share the name we've chosen to recommend as a Task Force. But before we do, we wanted to give you the full backstory of how we got to this point.
It started after the Special Church Meeting last January. Though a majority of us voted to change our name, the measure did not pass, and many of us felt confused. And in the weeks after, a survey indicated that many of those voting No did so out of concern about timing during a pandemic and about how the process unfolded. What now?
So after a period of discussion and discernment, a group of over 100 members petitioned the Council to create a Task Force to discern a new name to recommend for a congregational vote. The Council called a Special Meeting on May 23, at which time the congregation overwhelmingly approved the formation of a Name Change Task Force.
This Task Force was called to represent the rich diversity of ages and perspectives within our congregation to identify a new name to recommend for this church-community.
After being formed, our first job was to determine criteria to evaluate the potential names. Through an in-person meeting and scores of email and personal conversations, you all provided tremendous insight as we established these criteria.
We are also grateful to the Council for providing the resources to hire Bryan Malley, Creative Director of Malley Design. Throughout the entire process, his combination of professional expertise and intimate knowledge working with churches proved invaluable. The Malley team pored over reams of background material, surveyed leadership, and really got to know what makes us tick, offering an outside perspective of who we were and who we could be.
After establishing the criteria, we opened the gates for name recommendations, and that's where you really shined. In a span of weeks, you shared over 100 unique names with us! It gave us a lot of options involving a variety of themes.
From all those names, we identified five major themes that seemed to resonate. We shared those themes with you in August, and again you showed up, responding through emails, conversations, and with over 100 people participating in our second input session in the Great Hall.
Then, finally, it was time for us as a Task Force to discern a single name. We met the evening after the Input Session, and that's when we all felt God's Spirit present and shaping our conversation in a powerful way. Because that night, there was a single theme that rose to the top, and through conversation, we all really came together around it.
Malley Design did some preliminary vetting of the name and also launched a survey to gauge initial reaction for how people outside our church would react to the name. Additionally, lawyers set to work to vet it more thoroughly to ensure its viability.
And that brings us to this moment. We've concluded all of our vetting, we presented the name to the Council, and we're ready to share the name and its story to you.
The Task Force recommends Meetinghouse Church as the next name for our congregation.
What happens next?
We have submitted our recommendation to the Council. We expect that the vote on this name will take place toward the end of this year. The Council will be sending out a letter this week with the official meeting notice and further details.
Now that we have recommended a name, this Name Change Task Force has completed its work. Over the next couple months, look for ways for all of us to join in the process of discernment and prayer as we seek Jesus' leading for our community.
Seeking Christ and our neighbors' good with you,
The Name Change Task Force
Marissa Stark (Chair)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.