Wrapping up the First Phase

by Bob Thomason on January 28, 2024

Over the next few weeks our Name Change Committee will be wrapping up its first phase of work: listening to the Congregation. Since the fall, we have held two listening sessions on different Sundays and in December we visited the Southminster Retirement Community to hear from our members who are residents there. In addition, many of our Congregation have accepted our invitation to contact us by email or phone with their thoughts. In the coming weeks, there are even more opportunities to meet with us and tell us what you think about the possibility of changing our church name. They include:


Sunday February 4 | Members of the Committee will be available to meet with you at 9:00 am in the Foyer outside Heaton Hall. We will also be meeting with the youth at their 4:00 pm meeting.


Sunday February 11 | Members of the Committee will be available to meet with you at 11:00 am in the Foyer outside Heaton Hall. 


We will also be meeting with the Choir on a TBD date, and we’ve offered to meet with Sunday School classes, new member classes, and other small groups. You’ll hear directly from their leaders when these dates and times are confirmed.


We plan to wrap up this first phase of our work by mid-February. Our goal is for every single member* to have an opportunity to weigh in on this most important issue. If you’ve not shared your thoughts yet, please take advantage of one of these upcoming opportunities. If you can’t attend an event, feel free to contact Bob Thomason or any one of our committee members: Dean Bowen, Suzette Buchan, Myah Davis, Carla Hines, or Ray Owens. Contact information can be found in the church directory, but Bob's email is: .


We’ll enter the final phase of our work toward the end of the month. Our process will involve two surveys and two Congregational votes. The first survey and vote will only address the issue of whether to change our name to one that does not include the word “Baptist.” We’ll conduct a churchwide survey that asks each member to rank their level of support for changing our name in this way. The survey will not include specific new names for consideration and is only intended to measure Congregational support for a name change. If support is sufficient, we will move to the second survey and vote.


The second survey will assess the Congregation’s support of specific potential new church names. This survey will allow the ranking of several choices that have received support in past surveys, as well as allow for write ins. If the survey shows sufficient support for a particular new name (or several names if the Congregation does not pick a clear winner) our Committee will use this information to make a final recommendation of a new church name to the Board of Deacons. The final step will be a Congregational vote on the proposed new church name. 


Separating the name change decision into two votes was something other churches who’ve changed their names recommend. It also allows us to first confirm the Congregation is ready for a name change that involves removing the word Baptist. If we simply voted on a new name and the vote failed, we would not know if it failed because people were not ready to remove Baptist or if they just didn’t like the new name for some other reason.


In order to ensure our surveys are fair and accurately reflect the will of the Congregation, Church member and UNCC Professor Anita Blanchard has agreed to advise us. We do not have a firm timeline for the final vote, but we hope to be able to complete it before summer.


On a technical matter, a concern was raised at our last Congregational Meeting about potential covenants that might exist in our church deed, or other legal documents, that would prevent us from changing our name. We’ve had a well-known outside legal firm that specializes in real estate review all of our documents and we have been assured by them that there are no legal barriers to changing our name.


And just a final reminder: if a name change is approved by our Congregation nothing other than our name will change. All of our unifying and governing principles will remain the same including our Covenant, our polity, and in particular, Congregational authority. Should a new leader or the Deacons want to change any of these, Congregational approval would be required. The goal behind selecting a new church name that does not include the word Baptist is simply to remove a major barrier to potential new members who we know from experience will not visit or consider our church. 

*According to our church polity, in order to vote on official church matters, membership is required. You can join by contacting Rev. Carrie Veal.

Tags: identity, name change, identity crisis

Previous Page