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June 12, 2010

BAPTIST back in

We almost changed our name from Lighthouse Baptist Church to Lighthouse Church. Just Lighthouse. As in, no mean-spirited fundamentalists who go around blabbering about hate and shun pants-wearing women and call every male in the club by “brother." We imagine thousands of seekers thumbing through the yellow pages, systematically skipping everything with a mention of the word Baptist. We tell family and friends about the great things happening at Lighthouse [mumble or subtly clear throat] Bpte Church, because Baptist is code for stodgy, closed mind-controlled, legalistic, old fools.

As if.

I do imagine that many people see our name and write us off; folks who would have found exactly what they’re looking for and need. Others have shown up expecting to find something we’re clearly not. People come as they are and sing contemporary stuff rather than (only) piano hymns. We take a beating from the right hand, too. It’s happened.

A dozen or so church leaders contemplated the potential benefits, time, and costs involved with a name change. When I was all for “Just Lighthouse,” I remember Pastor telling me “these are good points but I’m just not so sure yet.” A voice of wisdom has the patience and grace to say things like that.

About a year later, the issue has kind of fallen to the side. The church has moved on to different (better?) things, including a lot of doing. Problem solved, so it seems. Maybe it was intentional or maybe we just got too busy for changing names. Either way, I think that was divine.

So here we are as Baptists. Lighthouse BAPTIST Church. Yes, that’s our tradition. Baptizing is what we do here. Our family of believers takes to heart the deep symbolism behind being washed and rising again as a new person. We take literally the ideas from the Scriptures themselves; the need for a public pronouncement of faith; that we chose, individually, for ourselves and no other reason.

Owning up to the good and bad of our tradition also happens to save someone a lot of time and effort right now. Someday when our roots, tradition, and ceremony are heavy in style, like community this and crossroads that are right now, we won’t have the trouble of adding Baptist back in.

I think it's a good lesson in letting go. Our lives speak or they don't, and we'll have to accept whoever comes by that. Our church is here and it has a name. Whatever you call it, that's where my family and I will be going for a good long while.

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