A name is a most valuable possession, a part of who we are. A community's name should reflect the means through which the Spirit draws and then holds that community together. It becomes an important vehicle in the ongoing story of a community, an anchor for its broadening vision. Thus, choosing a name is no trivial task.
How should a name be chosen? By spontaneous brain-storming? Or protracted collective deliberation? Perhaps, as we deepen our self-understanding, the name will simply become clear to us, and intellectual exercise will give way to realization. In a moment of recognition, we meet our own vision in a symbol, and there is instant rapport.
Our moment, as I remember, came somewhere on a highway between Chicago and Denver. Four of us were cramped between backpacks in a Datsun, slushing our way through gray sleet at dusk. We were returning from several rich and important months spent living among a few communities in the East, but our minds were already back in California with the sisters and brothers of our nascent community in Berkeley. Although our "community" was barely six months old, we felt instinctively that something deep was beginning.
As the car sped on into the darkening snowfall, conversation turned toward considering whether we should begin thinking about a name. Was it pretentious to begin moving from informality and anonymity toward identification with the vision around which we felt gathered? By the time we were entering Iowa, we were in consensus that our name should be appropriated from a biblical character. After all, the early Christians often changed their names at baptism, adopting biblical ones. Behold, new creation. But we were late-comers; all the Bible well-knowns had already been taken by other groups. We lingered over this discernment as the night lengthened before us.