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.