What’s in a Name?
It was December, December 6th to be precise, in Chicago, where those of us who had been wrestling for months to come up with a name for the baby we affectionately referred to as the “new Reformed body” returned to the table, committed to its Christening. We had come up with all kinds of names, but nothing had really stuck. To that point we had assembled collections of words, accurate in meaning but uninspired. We wanted a name that caused us to think and live differently, embrace a larger mission and higher calling with more creativity. We wanted a name that was God-inspired.
As we talked and prayed that morning, three descriptive words emerged – evangelical, covenant and order. Evangelical directs us to be witnesses to the hope of the gospel, engaged in our culture and planting missional communities. Order is a word rich in heritage but not typically used in American denominational circles these days. It conveys commitment to live life together around a common theological core. Covenant reminds us that God initiated a relationship with us that then connects us to each other. We added Presbyterian. Presbyterian certainly describes our style of government, but even more it describes our continuity with a larger, global family of faith.
As we continued our discussion, these words took hold of us. We began to see the beauty of the message they conveyed. We left Chicago in agreement on Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, ECO for short to bring to mind our desire to create an ecosystem for flourishing congregations. We announced the name at the January conference in Orlando. John Ortberg outlined the vision for ECO in his opening presentation. Since then ECO has taken hold of the imagination of many individuals and congregations.
Shortly after the Orlando conference, we were contacted by the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), a denomination of 800 congregations based in Chicago, expressing a concern that that our new name is too close to the ECC and has the potential to cause confusion. Our subsequent conversations with the ECC have been nothing but beautiful and respectful. We have looked at our core values and tried to live into our relationships as Christian brothers and sisters with mutual respect and affirmation of ministry.
Because we value this relationship and want to honor their concerns, we have agreed to modify our name slightly. We will keep the acronym ECO, but we will change the descriptors. Beginning today, April 9, 2012, we will be known as ECO: a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. It is a small change for us but has major significance for our partners in ministry in the ECC.
What’s in a name? A good name communicates identity. We are and want to be an accountable community of Resurrection people. ECO: a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.