When Blackshear Place Baptist Church was founded in 1955, the Blackshear name meant a lot to the people in the area.
The Blackshears were a family who had moved to the region, bought land and became a prominent family. People even started naming things in the community, including the church, after them, said the Rev. Jeff Crook, senior pastor at the church in South Hall, during a Jan. 28 sermon.
But in an effort to reach as many people as possible as it transitions to its new worship center, Blackshear Place is changing its name to Christ Place Church.
Christ Place Church
Where: 3428 Atlanta Highway, Flowery Branch
“Blackshear Place has lost its geographical distinction,” said Rick Hermann, pastor of discipleship at the church. “New people moving into the area really don’t know where the Blackshear Place is.”
Over the next few months, the name will slowly change in the way it’s introduced to members and guests, and on signage. The church hopes to have the transition completed in August when the new worship center under construction is set to be complete.
The decision has been well received by most at the church, with a 92 percent affirmation after members voted on the change. But some have left the church, perhaps as a result. Hermann said it’s likely because of their preference for tradition and memories of the church with the Blackshear name, but he’s still confident in the church’s future.
“The week after the church voted to change the name, the very next Sunday, we had great attendance,” Hermann said. “Our attendance wasn’t down at all. We had 47 new members in the new members class that are joining the church next month.”
The biggest change in the name, though, may be the removal of the “Baptist” identifier.
Hermann said that decision was made after the church did some research and found that people who don’t go to church have negative connotations of the Baptist label. So the church decided to remove such barriers that non-churchgoers may have.
That doesn’t mean Christ Place is moving away from its Baptist roots, though. Hermann said the church will remain part of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“We haven’t changed anything we believe doctrinally,” Hermann said. “We’re not becoming a nondenominational church because we don’t have Baptist in the name.
He said the convention doesn’t seem to have any rules or regulations on whether or not a church has to have Baptist in its name. One of the pastors running for president of the convention this year is J.D. Greear, pastor at The Summit Church.
After more than a year of thinking about the name change and seeking guidance from others, Blackshear Place Baptist Church will become Christ Place Church as it looks to a future of reaching more people.
“It’s been a number of different groups that have spoken into this,” Hermann said. “God really brought about a consensus among the leaders of the church that this is the direction that he was leading us to go.”