The blog

The blog—informal opinions and chat about the parish

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Church Names

After doing a bit of website maintenance, I used Google to search for "church Ashland Ohio," just to see whether we were still being indexed. (A prudent plan—sometimes an error will cause Google to lose track of a website. Google always drops you if you have malware that's been inserted by some malicious program.)

Yes, there we were, about the fifth one down. Some of our near neighbors in the Google search emphasize doctrine in their names (Trinity) or their location (Park Street). Some emphasize their denominational connection. Years ago I did a lot of work for the Congregational church, and nearly every group called itself "First Congregational Church of [Town name]." (There are just a few "Second Congregational" churches in the USA, and by the time you work down to "Fourth Congregational," apparently there's only one in the country. No "Fifth Congregational.")

I'm a bit amused at the newer groups who struggle to find some one-word, non-ecclesiastical, dynamic descriptor for themselves. Almost always with an exclamation point. Some of these new names require a trip to the Greek lexicon or to an urban dictionary. And for some of them, even this research will not quite tell you what they are all about.

St. Matthew's, like a lot of liturgical churches, is named for a person who is something of a "hero" for our parish: Matthew, the corrupt tax collector who dropped everything and completely changed when he heard Jesus calling. Like a poker player who puts all of his chips on one bet, Matthew abandoned everything when he got a glimpse of Jesus. Not a bad role model.

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