Names Matter

by Josh Meyer, Conference Naming Committee

My wife and I have two daughters. 

Our oldest is named Selah Ann.  The word selah is found as a notation in many of the Psalms.  It means something like “pause and consider.”  It was a cue for ancient worship leaders to slow down and invite the worshiping community to reflect on what they’d just heard before moving on to the rest of the psalm.  We love the idea that every time we say our daughter’s first name, we’re “pausing and considering” the goodness of God. 

Josh and family

Our youngest daughter is named Evie Joy.  Eve literally means “living” and joy comes from the same root word as grace.  Some scholars define joy as “grace acknowledged.”  Therefore, her name – Eve Joy – means “living acknowledgment of God’s grace.”  She’s been that for us, and her name reflects as much. 

The point?  Names matter.  Names have significance.  Names reveal identity and purpose and values.   

As Franconia Conference and Eastern District Conference move toward reconciliation and becoming a united conference once again, a question on many people’s minds is what the name of this new conference will be.  It’s not an insignificant question.  In one sense, what we do and who we are and how we live together is what matters most.  A name is simply what we call ourselves; God’s work among and through us is the highest priority.  Whatever we’re called, it’s our commitment to following Jesus, bearing witness to God’s peace, and experiencing transformation together that’s of primary importance. 

And yet, names matter.  Names have significance.  Names reveal identity and purpose and values. 

Josh Meyer gives an update from the Reconciliation Team at Spring Assembly 2019.

Therefore, the Structure and Identity Task Force has appointed a separate Naming Committee whose sole responsibility is to give attention to this important question.  The team is comprised of individuals from both conferences, and, for the past few months, we’ve been meeting and brainstorming and praying and listening and hoping.  It’s energizing, daunting, important work.    

The process is full of creativity and possibility.  We’re considering not only a name but potentially a logo as well.  We’ve discussed whether a descriptive tagline would be helpful.  We’ve considered input from other organizations that have changed names after a merger.  We’re talking with professional consultants.  We’ve discussed the possibility of using focus groups over the next few months.   And – here’s where we’d love for you to jump in – we’re actively seeking input and suggestions

As members of the new conference, you have a stake in this.  We want to hear from you.  If you have ideas for the Naming Committee, please send them in.  Whether it’s a specific name, a general concept (“maybe something around the theme of _____”), or a word of counsel, we are open to and intentionally asking for your thoughts.  You may send any ideas to Edie Landis and me (we’re both members of the Structure and Identity Task Force as well as helping to give leadership to the Naming Committee), and we’ll pass them on to the rest of the group.           

We’re excited about this process of discernment and discovery.  And we’re trusting with joyful expectancy that something will emerge that reflects our shared identity, purpose, and values.  Please join us in praying to that end.

Oh, and my daughters Selah and Eve?  They’re eagerly anticipating the addition of Baby #3 joining the Meyer family later this year.  They’re already letting us know their ideas for what the new baby should be called.  Evidentially, names matter—for conferences and to big sisters!

Naming Committee: Sara Kolb, Jaynie McCloskey, Aldo Siahaan, Merlin Hartman, Steve Kriss, Jim Musselman, Edie Landis (rodandedie1@verizon.net), & Josh Meyer (jmeyer@franconiamennonite.org).