What’s in a name?

Mainliners ponder denominational labels
After attending a conference at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral seven years ago, leaders of the Lutheran Church of the Master in Sylmar, California, started thinking about changing their congregation’s name. The trend of erasing denominational identity from church names had been well under way in the West among independent evangelical and charismatic churches—and with iconoclasts like the famed pastor of the Crystal Cathedral.

“Lutheran” and other Christian terms are confusing to some outsiders, ruminated Sam Platts, a longtime Lutheran pastor in the moderate-income community within the Los Angeles city limits. A few had asked whether Lutheran had something to do with Martin Luther King Jr. And the honorific title for Jesus was unfamiliar too: some mistook it for Church of the “Masters,” of the “Mistress” or of the “Martyrs,” Platts said.


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