There are at least three good reasons to make the name change:
1) We are a zoo at Wedgewood. We have people from Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Unitarian/Universalist, Catholic, United Church of Christ, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist, agnostic, etc. leanings or backgrounds. Although we are a Baptist congregation, “Baptist” in our name is not an accurate description of who we are.
2) Denominationally, we should be dually aligned with the American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ. We currently are aligned only with the American Baptist Churches. (We are aligned with Alliance of Baptists, and should continue to be aligned with the Alliance, but the Alliance is not a denomination.) Wedgewood’s 30 by 2013 committee has selected two of its members to join me in meeting with a United Church of Christ committee to explore a possible alignment. This process involves several steps. After this meeting with the UCC group, we will have information to share about the UCC, details of what a relationship with the UCC would entail, and a timeline for us to decide.
The UCC was the first denomination to ordain gay clergy and to approve of same sex marriage. It is a denomination we fit perfectly.
Ten years ago we looked into aligning with the UCC and we discovered some homophobia on the UCC’s state level. This no longer exists. The UCC is very excited about the possibility of our alignment.
If we do align, changing our name to “Wedgewood” would more accurately reflect our denominational status, stressing neither the Baptist nor the UCC.
3) Having “Baptist” in our name hurts us. Many of the loudest voices against GLBT rights have been Baptist voices. It’s hard to overcome that type of negativity, even when we spell out who we are.
It’s been nice to be tell the world we are Baptist and that we have the views we do, but doing that comes at a great cost.
I highly value our Baptist heritage. We will continue to incorporate our Baptist heritage into the life of our congregation. We, however, can be Baptist, along with being other things, without having “Baptist” in our name.