“So will they throw tomatoes at people if they don’t like the new name?” An engaged eight year old asked this question about our town hall meeting last Sunday. Thankfully no tomatoes were thrown but abundant thanksgiving and praise were lifted up to God. God showed up. Together we sensed where God was leading us, and celebrated how God had been leading us up until this point.
From the beginning, our goal for this merge was to be a marriage and not adoption, a true merger and not an acquisition. During the townhall meeting, we outlined five important steps that we must take together to move forward together. We need (1) a name, (2) simple structures, (3) a trusted and diverse leadership team, (4) to build on the past as we move into the future, and (5) to step out in scary and risky faith. Over these next few weeks I want to elaborate on each of these points.
First, we need a name. We could have kept one of our existing names, but the Naming Task Force concluded that this would reflect more of an assimilation instead of the new day that we are engaged with together. We could have a hyphenated name, but our children would curse us for this long hyphenated name with its unpronounceable acronym BLWAC. Based on the surveys, listening meetings and the emails, the Naming Task Force sought a name that:
- Conveys who we are as a church in our local communities (Vision and Mission)
- 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 : a name that will not raise suspicion in a sensitive areas of the world.
- Name that includes the words “Alliance” and “Church” (inviting and understandable)
- Name that focus on who we are rather than where we are (not location-based)
These criteria served us well as we explored over a hundred name suggestions. Many great names could not be used because they were already in use by local churches in our Alliance family or other close circles of our network. Great minds unfortunately think alike.We distilled these names down to three that were presented through the Sunday announcements, paper reports and surveys and digital communications.
Many gave very helpful comments about these finalists. All the Governing Board members got the chance to read every comment, and Jane L provided an excellent summary for the board to narrow that list down even further. After discussion and prayer, the GB decided unanimously to approve Wellspring Alliance Church to be the future name of our church. Why Wellspring?
- Wellspring Alliance Church seemed best to represent our church’s desire to serves our communities and circles of influence regardless of which campus we are in.
- We felt that “Wellspring” is an established but not overused biblical word, lending itself to a fresh application.
- This name would not raise red flags in sensitive areas where our missionaries serve.
- “Alliance” and “Church” connect us to our past and clearly signal our identity and family network.
- We liked that it is relatively unique in this area, distinguishing us from other local churches.
- The depth of a “well” can symbolize the depth and history of both churches upon which we build the future while the “spring” pictures something new God is doing among us.
- This name reflects our calling to be an epicenter for prayer, vision, strategy and evangelism and a basecamp for world mission.
Thank you so much for all your prayers, support and participation in this process. We will ask for the congregation to affirm this name at our upcoming Annual Meeting on June 12. Now our prayer is that this name will mean something wonderful as a result of how we live as a church.
Next week we will explore the importance of simple structures as we move forward together. See you then.