Monday, June 9, 2008
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')