New Name Walla Walla University Church Begins New Chapter
The Walla Walla College Church marked the beginning of a new chapter in the church's more than 60-year history with a special program on Sept. 1, celebrating the changing of its name. In conjunction with Walla Walla University, the church's name is now the Walla Walla University Church. "Since we're located on the university campus and the students are a main part of our congregation, it only made sense that we should call ourselves the University Church," says Karl Haffner, senior pastor. So in a church business session, board members voted that the Walla Walla College Church become the University Church when the school name change took place on Sept. 1.
Along with changing the name, the communications committee met and worked together with the pastoral staff to update the church logo. The new logo prominently features the cross from the previous College Church logo. With a timeless quality, it emphasizes a continuing commitment to a Christ-centered approach. "The new logo attempts to bridge the best of our history with our vision for the future as an active campus and community congregation," said John Cress, associate pastor and communication committee chair. The tag line was also updated and now says, "Experiencing God's Grace, Seeking God's Truth and Sharing God's Love." "It envisions a spiritual community that is grace-oriented, eager to pursue present truth, and ready to reach out in practical ways to the surrounding community with the loving, caring hands of Jesus," said Cress. The new logo and tag line will be reflected on the church's official documents, signs and contact points.
In celebration of the name change, the church had a special program. The church choir, directed by Kraig Scott, minister of music, helped mark the occasion with a introit of dedication. Later in the service, the choir sang "O How Amiable," an anthem by Ralph Vaughan Williams, which includes the words "O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home."
Pastor Haffner's message Monkeying Around With Change talked about the value of change. Changing the church's name is a "positive and necessary change," said Haffner. He then made three observations about change. First, "Change is inevitable," he said, citing Solomon's words in Ecclesiastes which tell us that life is always changing; there is a time to live and a time to die.
Second, "Change is necessary." In order to be relevant as Christians, we need to explore new ideas, expand our thinking. One way the church has found to do this is through the Improv Church, which Haffner started in 1999. This ministry outreach has effectively ministered to thousands of university students over the years—only "because of a willingness to try new wineskins for new wine," Haffner said as he reflected on the decision by the church board to try this innovative approach to evangelism.
Finally, Haffner said, "Change is possible." We can change; we can be transformed. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says, "If any one belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new."
Following the special service, members of the Pathfinder club along with other church members helped to serve cookies and lemonade to the nearly 1,200 people who attended.