This coming Sunday, we have ten babies/children being dedicated to the Lord. After three new births the previous week, we are clearly taking the command to “fill the earth” (Gen 1:28) seriously! With each child dedication, parents will pray a prayer of blessing for their children. Just as Jacob blessed his children in a prophetic manner in Genesis 49, so this prayer sets a trajectory of blessing for their children’s lives. And this trajectory of prayer finds expression in names: Elizabeth, Luther, Elijah, Lydia, Ezra, Ariana, Ruth, Zachary, Jane and Gloria.
Similarly, our prayer for our church sets a trajectory for our development. Together we have been praying in this manner. Throughout the discernment season, we prayed about whether the Lord was calling us to reach the diversity of our area more effectively together. These prayers were answered with an overwhelmingly affirmation by the leadership and members of each church. Since our official merge on October 4, 2015, we have worked hard to lay a foundation for home groups, bring alignment to vision, and build a culture of prayer.
The trajectory of our prayers is beginning to crystallize and find expression in a name. Your prayers, opinions and desires have been heard. Since March, the Naming Task Force has consulted all the different groups associated with our church. We have conducted hundreds of surveys, sent dozens of emails to people out of state and country, and had countless conversations with children, youth, college students, home groups and other groups of people in different venues.And we have received 97 names! However, we cannot choose all of them. When my daughter Eden proposed a name, she heard another proposed name and said, “What, you didn’t like my name?” We could try to please everybody with a 97 word name, but that would please nobody. As a result, the Naming Task Force has developed the following criteria for a name:
- Conveys who we are as a church in our local communities (Mission/Vision)
- One name for all congregations (Unity/Community)
- A name that will stand the test of time (not a trendy name)
- A name that will work (or can be shortened) in an international setting
- Name should include the words Alliance and Church (inviting and understandable)
- Name should focus on who we are and not where we are (not be location based)
The Naming Task Force has sifted through and prayerfully considered every name that has been submitted according to these criteria.
So how will we select a final name? On the basis of these criteria, the Naming Task Force has narrowed the options down to a few, and they will provide these names with their rationale to the Governing Board very soon. When the Governing Board meets on Tuesday, May 18, then they will select one. This final name will be shared at our Town Hall meeting on Sunday, May 22, and we will ask for a vote of affirmation at our Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 12. Please be in prayer for this process as we move forward.