Loooooooong church names

A church in Ashtabula, Ohio recently made the news (zip, age and gender required to view article) for the death of a child in the congregation, and allegations of brainwashing and other unsavory practices.

The name of the church? Apostolic Faith Church Body of Jesus Christ of the Newborn Assembly. Its congregants and leaders are primarily African-American.

When I heard that long name, I was reminded of the names of other small African-American churches, an unusually large percentage of which seem quite long or unusual-sounding to my white middle-class ears. Looking throgh the Brooklyn Storefront Houses of Worship Web site reveals the following names:

The Spiritual Israel Church and its Army
Alpha and Omega Brooklyn House of Prayer
Macedonia First Born Church of the Living God
Jesus the Son of the Living God Spiritual Baptist Church
Church of Deliverance Tabernacle of Prayer
More Than Conquerors Outreach Ministry Church
Divine Guide Tabernacle of Faith Church
Holy City Faith and Deliverance Ministries Center of Love
Touch Not My Annointed
Saint Andrews Temple Church of the Living God

Head out the suburbs, and exception a few Catholic parishes (“Our Most Holy Previous Lady of the Sacred Heart”, etc), most places of worship will have much shorter names - St. James Presbyterian Church, Trinity Methodist Church, Cecilville Unitarian-Universalist Church, Congregation Beth El, and so on. Non-denomination mega-churches often have unconventional names, but there’s usually nothing quite as long as what’s encountered in the inner city.

I’m wondering about the roots of long church names in the African-American community; where and why did it begin, and if there’s a belief that “longer is better” when it comes to such names.

At the annual Punkin Chunkin World Championships, we routinely see the “New Bethel Church Marching Band Tabernacle Choir Motorcycle Club Pumpkin Throwing Team” enter a pumpkin tossing device. I have no idea how they compare to other teams, or whether their longer name ensures them a place in the Kingdom.

Heh heh heh heh heh heh

It’s real, complete with the spelling error.

not particularly long, but I once did work for the First Unitarian Church of Kensington (CA).

The official name of National Cathedral in Washington, DC, is the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. (It’s not predominantly black, BTW.)

Not church related, but I once saw a band called The Summer Dog Bluegrass Experience, Western Swing Ensemble and Mariachi Band. Oddly, I can’t remember Where I saw them- maybe Arizona?

But being a High Church Episcopalian congregation it hitches a ride with the Catholic parishes on the exemption for Patron Saints. However, it indeed is usually revivalist churches that recur to laying on multiply-descriptive adjectives and references to biblical sites and places and theological concepts, like “Holiness Renewal Tabernacle of the Chosen Remnant, Inc.”

I don’t think its so much a black thing as a non-standard denominational thing.

Here in my part of the Bible belt we have typically-named mainstream churches and also long-winded weirdball-named churches, mostly full of very white, largely red-neck folks.

Oddly enough, the San Jose Mercury News recently ran this article (google cache) about SF Bay Area churches for better marketing. Unlike the churches in the OP, these seem to be choosing names that obfuscate their theology.

Evangelical Free Church of Fremont is now Bridges
Fremont’s 70-year-old First Assembly of God is now Harbor Light.

Sound like a bunch of Marin County crystal gazing new age astrological herbal freaks.

Then we have The HighWay, aka The First Church of CalTrans, and the New Venture Church, presumably aimed at the pre-IPO set.

That said, there is a strong thread in African American culture that values ornate language with an oratorical flair and the spoken word. Which also bring us preachers like Martin Luther King, rap music, and names like Cheniqua.

There is a little store front church near my folk’s church (in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) named “The True Holiness Divine Revelation Church of the Apostolic Succession”. The sign covers practically the whole front of the place.


:smiley: Kudos for throwing in the Apostolic Succession. Someone among the founders must have at some point hung out with some Catholic/Orthodox/Anglican buddies and liked how it sounded… :cool: