It is now official. As of September 3 we are the Community Church of Sandwich! It feels strange to say that name. I have known this congregation as the Federated Church of Sandwich for over thirty years. Many of you have known it by that name for much longer than I have.
It will be strange to write out my tithe check each week to the Community Church and see it on our website and Facebook page. It feels strange on my tongue to now tell people that I am the pastor of the Community Church of Sandwich.
Part of me will be sorry to see the old Federated Church name move into the history books. Part of me is glad not to have to explain one more time what a federated church is! Mostly I am excited about entering a new phase of our life as a Christian community in Sandwich.
As I ponder our new name, my first thought is koinonia. That is the Greek word used in the New Testament for community or fellowship. It is the unique quality of divine love that binds believers together. The Book of Acts describes the early Christian church with these words: “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.”
The early church father Tertullian said that love was the distinguishing characteristic of the Christian church in his day. People outside the church regularly remarked of Christians, “Look how they love one another!" I hope that will be the reputation of the Community Church of Sandwich.
The other aspect of our new name emphasizes our connection to the town. We are the “Community Church of Sandwich.” We are connected to the wider Sandwich community beyond the church walls … and beyond Sandwich. We are not an introverted group of religious people cut off from the town. We are an integral part of the community.
One man - who does not attend church - remarked to me that he considers our church as the heart of Sandwich. I view the church as the soul of Sandwich. As the steeples of our historic meetinghouses point to heaven, so (I hope) our church directs people’s attention to God.
I also hope that our new name we will inspire us to reach into the community with renewed vigor. We are the Community Church of Sandwich. Let us live up to our new name!