What’s in a name?

Rev. John Hice encourages serious thought be given to the names of Michigan’s nine new districts.

REV. JOHN HICE
Crossroads District Superintendent

Shakespeare’s Juliet protested to her love, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet.” Never mind that she was complaining about last names, not first. Montague’s (Romeo’s family) and Capulet’s (Juliet’s folk) were in a feud, obstructing their love. Juliet argues that they could do without those last names; but could they do without “Romeo?” Could they do without “Juliet?” If they had different names would they be the same people, or hold each other in the same love if they were “Sam” and “Bertha” instead?

Why put effort into naming?

Laura and I named our daughter Caroline after weeks of study and collaboration. The baby-naming book we bought said it means, “Strength.” Other books say it means, “she knows.”

Our son is named James, the English form of Jacob. James is supposed to mean “Supplanter”; not that we intended for him to supplant anyone – we just liked the name and its connection to the biblical patriarch.

Comb through the scriptures: time and again you will see names chosen at the direction of God. The name speaks for who this child would be and the mark she or he would make on the world

“You shall name him Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sin.”

From one culture to another, the choosing of names is thoughtful, prayerful, and filled with hope.

And so, we come to a time when new districts are formed, and we are given the task to choose what to call them. District 5 and District 6 and District 3 and District 9 will all be given some name that we and those who follow us will live with for decades, generations, maybe centuries.

I’m kind of partial to District 6 remaining the name of the mid-eastern district of the Michigan Conference because I visited South Africa and learned about the history of Cape Town’s District 6: a working poor borough of the city that was culturally and racially diverse – a jazz center rich in its unique culture. The Apartheid Government had it bulldozed and sent its people to townships and elsewhere in the city in the 1960s because its diversity was not acceptable to the government’s segregation program of that evil time. I’d be happy to embrace something of its heritage.

But we won’t. Too many people hear the temp-names, District 1, District 2…and think right away of the Hunger Games and cringe.

No. We need names. And we need to recover the rich, biblical, and cultural heritage of choosing names with thought, prayer, and intention. After all, God might care about what we name ourselves.

So, as we go through our relatively short exercise of choosing district names, I encourage your prayerful input. Bishop Bard only asks that the names help us geographically orient the districts for convenience. Area Communications Director Mark Doyle only asks that they be kept short so people will easily catch on to them and remember them (one-word is best). It’s a marketing thing.

And I only ask that you take this seriously.

Because it’s going to be our name. And a rose by any other name just isn’t quite a rose.

Click here to go to the 9 District Website. Suggestions for names should be given to District Superintendents.

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