Name Change Process

Task Force Name Recommendation (September 26, 2021)

Colonial Church Members & Friends,

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.

Much like the story told in the video above, we believe that Meetinghouse Church is a name that reflects our Core Values, our desire to be a welcoming community, and our commitment to remain rooted in our history and heritage. We know that a name isn't everything, but nevertheless, we believe this name sets us up as we seek to Be the Church in the next chapter of our life together.  

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)
Rick Didora 
David Engelbert 
Haley Larson 
Bob Neal 
Ady Phillips
Marilyn Reilly 
Elaine Sloan 
Shelby Wagner
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.
Task Force Releases Criteria, Receives Name Recommendations (July 27, 2021)
In an interim report, the Name Change Task Force explained their process, shared the criteria they established for evaluating names, and called on members to share their specific recommendations. Read more about it here.
Task Force Shares Five Concepts (August 24, 2021)
After reviewing over 100 unique names, the Task Force identified five concepts that connected many of them. Read more about it here.