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What’s in a name? 'James River Assembly' Becomes 'James River Church'

James River Church
(Photo credit: James River Church facebook page)

Shakespeare once posed the question, “What’s in a name?” Members of James River Church dealt with that question themselves a few months ago as the large church body changed its name from “James River Assembly” to “James River Church.” KSMU's Samantha Nichols has the story.

Todd Yearack, director of communications for the church, explains why the church felt it needed to change its name.

“The goal and the purpose behind changing the name to ‘Church’ is to make sure that people understand clearly first, that we are a church.  You know from time to time people will say, ‘That big building down on Highway 65, well, what is that building?’ Well, that’s a church. We want you to come to church,” Yearack said.

James River Church is one of the nation’s largest Assemblies of God churches, though it started with only 42 members. The Assemblies of God headquarters is in Springfield, and it’s one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the United States. Yearack said that the name change does not represent a disassociation with the Assemblies of God, nor does the church have any plans to distance itself from the Assemblies of God. He said that a number of AG churches have followed a similar path to be more clearly understood in the community. Yearack said the name change has been well received so far.

“There was excitement. I remember hearing a few people who were just excited. They’re those outgoing folks who are always, you know, looking to bring people with them to church. And they said, ‘It’s going to just be, you know, just at this level, so much easier to explain what James River is.’ And so, the response was wonderful by the church family, church body, and overwhelmingly they supported the change,” Yearack said.

James River Church has grown significantly since its early days in 1991. The average weekly attendance for the church is now 12,000 people.