I have always thought that the name of a church is important to the community. I have found that the name provides both definition to that particular piece of the body of Christ and informs the community as to its mission. We who worship in a place are not always aware of the power of the name we carry.
In my time at St. Anne’s in the Fields, a church aptly named as it was surrounded by the most beautiful New England landscape, that landscape in many ways informed the identity and program of the church, a fact I became aware of only after I left. Another church I served, Good Samaritan, was constantly looking for ways in which to reach out and lift those who where broken and move them in to a place of rest and healing.
Names also provide clergy material for sermons – particularly if a community begins to become too diffuse in its focus and mission one could use the name to draw the church back towards some cohesion (“Our namesake, St. Francis’ would invite us to remember that our mission is….”)
I have also come to realize that the name chosen at the founding of a community reflects a “founding DNA” of its first members that will guide it for many generations. That “DNA” seems to continue to inform that community long after those first worshippers have left to be with their God.
That is why we had to give some serious prayer and consideration to the name of this new venture. We knew that the name chosen would serve as a way to define and shape the community for years.
The community God is calling forth has three distinctive yet interrelated parts. There is the new church plant in the developing community of Mission Bay and the changing community of Dogpatch. There is the central mission to foster youth. And there is the movement of the Holy Spirit that birthed this idea and continues to move and breathe life into this mission.
As we considered the three strands, we heard whispered the name “Braid.” While not prefaced by the ubiquitous “Saint” or “Holy” it made perfect sense. We were being called to braid together the church with the needs of foster youth with the constant thread of the Spirit breathing hope and vision and life.
And actually, as we gave the name further consideration we began to realize that the action of “braiding” is a constant in the universe. We can begin with the braiding of the three parts of the Trinity into One. We can identify the braiding of the Divine into the personhood of Jesus. As Anglicans we know the braiding of the Spirit into the elements of bread and wine and transforming them into the elixir of life. We are braided into God as God is braided into us. We also understand the braiding of Scripture, Reason and Tradition. Those who call themselves disciples of Jesus Christ know that they are called to braid the hope of the gospel and the love of God into the lives of those who are broken or in need.
And so we are Braid Mission, called to weave a community together and called to weave that community into the lives of children in need of hearing the gospel of hope and with a desperate need to experience God’s healing love and presence. Welcome to Braid.