First Christian Church of Boulder, CO is no longer in Boulder, so they faced an obvious dilemma. They moved out to the southeast corner of Boulder County so the name just didn’t fit anymore. There was already a Boulder County Christian Church, which is quite conservative, so that name was not a possibility for more than one reason.
While some churches never change names even if their location changes
(Euclid Ave. Christian Church in Cleveland, OH is actually on Yellowstone
Blvd. for instance) name changes are often seen as necessary to avoid
The Colorado congregation went through a long process to decide what they
thought to be just the right name to adequately describe how they see themselves as a faith community. The new facility is on Stonehenge Dr. so one member suggested that as the new name – Stonehenge Christian Church. Others laughed at the idea predicting that the congregation would be known as the Druids for Christ rather than Disciples of Christ!
They finally settled on (drum roll please) Cairn Christian Church. A
“cairn” is a mound of stones erected as a memorial or maker. Its purpose is to act as a landmark guiding those on a journey so they might not lose their way. Honestly, I don’t particularly care for the name, but the reasoning behind the choice is good and clear and does suit the hoped-for function of a congregation!
An Ebenezer is similar. Don’t think of the eccentric old man from “A
Christmas Carol.” Think more of the older version of that great hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The second verse of that song begins, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.” An Ebenezer is a stone that symbolizes hope. Ebenezers served as sort of temporary altars for people on the move. They were usually built by piling rocks together found in an area where some special event had happened or where people were spending the night, again as travelers.
Most certainly there is a tie-in between such Ebenezer/cairn practices and
the 12 stones Joshua ordered to be taken from the middle of the Jordon when
the people of Israel crossed that river with the Ark of the Covenant [see
One could almost read scripture as a travelogue! Over and over again they
tell of believers on the move either metaphorically or literally. That
goes for both the Hebrew Texts as well as the New Testament. In exile,
Exodus or during peripatetic ministries, as Israel, Apostles or individuals, people of faith are always on the move.
As you travel this summer, as we go forward as a congregation, let us be
mindful of the Ebenezers and cairns we carry with us!