Thursday, July 14, 2005

What's in a name?

The lovely Caroline, in a comment on an earlier post wondered why on earth the congregation kept muttering about incomprehensible Greek things when discussing young people's work at St M's. Listen and attend, oh gentle reader, and you will discover just why I am so very keen that we should get the name of our family church plant right.
Once upon a time, when the current Churchwarden's children were teenagers, a youth group emerged at St M's. The group grew and flourished, despite having the unpromising name of Koinonia, , so when, in the fulness of time, there was demand for a group for the slightly younger siblings of these blessed teens, they called it Comitas. Of course, the children in those days were mega-literate in NT Greek and in Latin, so knew that they were celebrating fellowship, community and other similarly Good Things, and lo, it was very good.
As wave on wave of children replaced those founder-members, the "church family" members became the exception rather than the rule, so that the two youth groups were for some time the nearest thing to mission that St M's managed. By now, nobody really knew why they'd been saddled with these names, but they had beautiful banners embroidered with them, which vaguely-connected adults would take for walks on their behalf during processions on high days and holidays, so there wasn't any hope of changing them, and besides, the congregation were fond of thinking of them thus, as the names carried resonances of the glory days of yore.
Bizarrely, during the same period, the youngest children were catered for successively by "Mothers and toddlers" (exclusive of Fathers and the immobile), Prams and Pushchairs (but I thought it was the contents of these vehicles that needed to know God's love, not the buggies themselves) and, latterly, the slightly twee "Little Fishes" (well, at least there is a vague hint that it might be a Christian group...and they are definitely very very wriggly!)...with nobody raising a word of objection. Any attempts to "rebrand" the older groups, however, was met with outrage and, you see, I do need to feel that whatever name we choose will work for an indefinite period. The idea is for this to be definitely family time, with adults and children worshipping together, though I imagine that the teaching will be largely geared to the children.
Does this help with deliberations? Anything English considered!


Caroline said...

Kathryb wrote
"Anything English considered!"

thankfully that rules out 'Family Alpha group then? only the shared meal and the community concept was begging for it really. oh go on, you know you want to. you know, I'm almost serious...

andy gr said...

We've just done a consultation. Actually we've done a lots of consultation lately, it's exhausting. But this particular consultation was to get the youngsters to come up with names for their own groups. My suggestions (the cave, scum, cre8iv) all got voted as zero cool. And the winners are:
*sonrise (ouch! But I'm not a voter)
*the dream
*real life (using the video material "reel life" from Bible Society, which is worth looking at if you want something a little bit out of the ordinary for older teens).

Anna said...

You know, I agree that Koinonia is unpromising (I, a cradle Episcopalian, can't say it and don't know what it means) but I wouldn't say that all group names have to be in English. At my college, the Protestant student group called itself Caritas until right before I came. They changed it to Swarthmore Protestant Community, more descriptive, but lacking that hint of mystery that the Latin name had. And "caritas" is such a lovely word, with so many layers of meaning. "Charity" would have just sounded cheesy.

I'm not saying a little kids' group should have a Latin name, unless it's the Latin for "Everyone be quiet and keep your hands to yourselves!"

But I think that since the definition of cool is ever-changing, a too-cool name for a group can make it sound just as transitory. And overly descriptive names just say snoozefest!

Anonymous said...

Our group (many years ago now) was named 'Parallel Lines' - before I took over. The vicar, who was not consulted, thought this was wonderful - moving alongside the congregation, etc. Years later, a couple of the members confessed to me that the name was chosen on the principle that they would never meet :-)
Whatever the name, it is the group that will make it work, not the name.