Monday, June 9, 2008

Church names

What's in a church name? Various denominations ahve different traditions for naming churches, and Britain and America have their differences too. Indeed, England and Wales have theirs. In the Church of England a church building will be dedicated to a saint or, if it's an Evangelical foundation, will have a name like Christchurch or Holy Trinity. Nonconformists sometimes call their buildings after famous people, such as Matthew Henry Evangelical Church in Chester or Wesley's Chapel in London. Most often in English small towns and villages a chapel will just have the denominational name and the town or village, such as Hethersett Reformed Baptist Church or North Walsham Congregational Church. Where there are multiple churches of the same denomination in a town, they are often named for where they are located (or not, Sealand Road United Reformed Church, Chester, is not on Sealand Road at all). Strict baptist Chapels often have Biblical names, from the obvious (Bethel) to the obscure (Galeed). 'Tabernacle' is often a popular name, although there have been a few 'Temples' over the years. The first Primitive Methodist chapel in Great Yarmouth was called the Tabernacle, but when it was rebuilt a member suggested they might call the new building 'Great Yarmouth Primitive Methodist Church'. "Why not go the whole way and call it a Temple?" another member replied sarcastically. So they did, and it remained 'The Temple' until its demolition.

The United Reformed Church (URC, and it's neither, leading to questions about the third letter as well) has a congregation that is moving towards truth in advertising. Yes, in the attractive market town of Diss, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, when the former congregational church entered the URC it boldly adopted a new name. No longer would it be called the Diss Congregational Church, but now the board outside the attractive brick building in Mere Street would have the radical new name of...

The Diss United Reformed Church

(Note: The Baptist Church (pictured) in the same town recently decided not to enter the Grace Baptist Association in order to avoid the title 'Diss Grace Baptist church')


Machine Gun Kelley said...

Sealand Road? I didn't know the micro-nation of Sealand was large enough to have any roads! ;)

There's divers reasons churches receive their names over here. But in recent years the trend has been to remove the word "church" and replace it with "Worship Center."

Strong Tower said...

There was actually a report recently where a church was removing the terms Baptist and Temple, both for what they thought cast shadow over their mission because of the inferred baggage.

Now if you run Liberty not Baptist-now Baptist-now not Baptist- now Baptist, you believe that it can be useful when necessary to change your name :)

What I wonder is where is this stuff coming from? Are we really afraid of splaining, and should we really care?

It really is getting to be rediculous but if I wanted to sell religion I might just open a St. Arbucks.

Highland Host said...

Ah, but Rhett, you'll note that Sealand Road URC is NOT on Sealand Road.

Seriously, Sealand is also a place in Cheshire where my family farmed for generations.

Machine Gun Kelley said...

"Ah, but Rhett, you'll note that Sealand Road URC is NOT on Sealand Road."

That is rather curious... Perhaps one of the church pioneers was a bit "challenged" when it comes to road maps?