Today Rockville’s first Lutheran congregation will officially unveil to the community its new name— “Living Faith Lutheran Church” during a Renaming Celebration. The event will also mark the retirement with dignity of “Crusader Lutheran Church,” the congregation’s name since its foundation in 1952. The celebration begins with a 10:30 a.m. worship service, followed by a noon luncheon reception.
In addition to church members, dozens of guests are expected to join in this joyous event, including representatives of Community Ministries of Rockville; members of the Rockville City Council; and other public officials, faith-community representatives & ministry partners.
The Rev. Philip C. Hirsch will preach a special sermon placing this milestone in both a scriptural and historical context, with an emphasis on the road ahead for Living Faith. Pastor Hirsch serves as Assistant to the Bishop and Director for Evangelical Mission for the Washington, D.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
“We are looking forward to this joyous opportunity to celebrate our new name, honor our 59 years of history as Crusader Lutheran and humbly dedicate ourselves to the mission God has in store for us as Living Faith Lutheran,” said the Rev. Sandra Cox Shaw, the church‟s pastor since 2005.
“We believe “Living Faith” better captures who we are today — a congregation committed to putting our faith into action by serving our community, our nation and our world,” Pastor Shaw added. “And we believe that this is the name God has guided us to choose, through a process of prayer, discernment and faithful deliberation.”
Immediately after worship on June 26, Pastors Hirsch and Shaw will bless the new “Living Faith Lutheran” sign on Veirs Mill Road. During the luncheon reception, Living Faith members and guests will be invited to share their memories from the Crusader Lutheran era; reflections on the new name; and their hopes for the congregation‟s future.
In April 2010, the churchs Congregation Council began discussing the future of the “Crusader” name. Many members believed that the name no longer reflected the church‟s character and mission — and that the term “crusader” had acquired a very different connotation in the decades since the congregation formed.
Thorough research concluded there was no other Crusader Lutheran Church in the United States. Moreover, several faith-based colleges that once fielded athletic teams under the Crusader name have chosen new mascots during the past decade. Significantly, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — whose crusades reached hundreds of millions of people in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s — no longer uses the word “crusade” to describe its outreach efforts.
“Our Council discerned that God was calling our church to be renamed, much as God decided that Abram and Sarai should take the names Abraham and Sarah, or that Saul of Tarsus should become the apostle Paul,” Pastor Shaw added. “We then embarked on a journey of prayerful, faithful reflection. The discussions preceding the congregation’s decision were overwhelmingly civil, serious and forward-focused.”
After three town-hall meetings—on Aug. 15, Sept. 12 and Oct. 24, 2010—Crusader Lutheran members voted on All Saints’ Day (Nov. 7) to rename the congregation. In the following weeks, 66 suggestions for a new name were received and researched. A screening committee narrowed the field to 12 “semi-finalist” names on Dec. 5, 2010. Congregation-wide voting later that month produced 7 finalists, which the Council reviewed and discussed at great length at its monthly business meeting on Jan. 9, 2011. The Council’s choice–Living Faith Lutheran Church–was affirmed by congregation members at their Annual Meeting on Jan. 30, 2011.
Council members and church staff devoted the months of February, March, April and May to the many tasks that a renaming requires — from official filings with the City of Rockville and the State of Maryland, to sign replacement and a revamped website, now found at http://www.mylivingfaith.org. (The former church website — http://www.crusaderlutheran.org — now leads visitors to the new site.)
There are currently 5 Living Faith Lutheran congregations in the United States. The others are located in Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Marine City, Mich.; Cumming, Ga.; and Clive, Iowa.
Living Faith Lutheran was established as Rockville’s first Lutheran church in 1952 as part of the new Twinbrook neighborhood under the name Crusader Lutheran Church. Today, it is a welcoming, community-focused and growing congregation within the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (The Chicago-based ELCA is the nation‟s fifth-largest Protestant denomination, with 4.5 million baptized members. The Metro DC Synod encompasses 80 congregations and worshipping communities, which in turn represent more than 34,000 baptized members.)
Living Faith Lutheran also serves as a hub of community services for such diverse organizations as Alcoholics Anonymous, Girl Scouts, Meals-on-Wheels and Community Ministries of Rockville’s Latino Outreach Program. Living Faith Lutheran is located at the corner of Veirs Mill Road and Broadwood Drive in Rockville’s Twinbrook neighborhood.