Craig Denison, with his wife, Rachel, and baby son, has been attending St. Bartholomew’s for about a year and a half. He helps with worship and has assisted the church in its transition from All Saints East Dallas to St. Bartholomew’s. He shares his thoughts about the naming of this newly independent fellowship.
Growing up I never thought too much about names. At most I wished that my parents had picked a name for me that began with the letter “A” so I could be first in the line to go to lunch. Real weighty stuff.
But in the past few years, names have taken on a whole other depth of meaning for me. I think it began when I realized that it was up to my wife, Rachel, and me to name our firstborn. I remember thinking, “This kid is going to have the name I give him for his entire life. This is what people will call him every day. This is one of the most basic ways he’ll be known by every person he meets.” Names are important.
I find it fascinating (and a little terrifying) that we name things before they have fully become who they are. We named Wes before we ever set eyes on him. We often name companies before they make their first sale. And we name churches with just the beginning of an idea, not fully knowing all God will do, in time, in our midst.
A while back, as I walked into the church I have grown to love and belong to (All Saints East Dallas), our rector, Jay+ Wright, told us that we were beginning the process of becoming our own church, of creating our own identity. He explained that in developing our own identity, we would need a name of our own. Much like naming a child, with their whole future ahead of them, we needed to partner with God in giving this dream, this idea, this body of Christ, a name.
In the months that followed Jay+ cast vision for the type of church God is calling us to become. He spoke about the dreams and desires God has placed within his heart, visions the Lord has given him. Openly and thoughtfully, he cast vision for our new name: St. Bartholomew’s. Just like the name given to a child by his or her parent, this name has begun to represent, to call forth into being the growth happening inside of us as a church.
The name Bartholomew is patronymic, meaning it points to his father. Literally it means “Bar-tholome,” or “Son of Tholome.” And we know that Tholome was a farmer in the region of Galilee.
Jay+ began drawing connections between this name, Bartholomew, and beautiful agricultural visions God had given him throughout the years. He shared how God gave him a vision of a seedling being put into the ground by caring hands—visions of God’s tender care in planting, growing and nurturing us as his church.
Jay+ had us look outside the windows of our beautiful church to see that God has placed us in a garden, off the beaten path, in a place of retreat. He cast the vision of God calling people to our church, people that need a place to grow, be nurtured, be pruned and learn to live in freedom as children of God.
Over time, I began to find myself in this name, St. Bartholomew. I had felt led to this church out of a desperate need to be refreshed, to be allowed to engage in the seasonality and patient process of becoming who God has created me to be. I have found life, love and relationship here. In this fellowship I have been empowered, even in a short time, to preach the gospel with more fervor, humility and thoughtfulness than ever before.
Our prayer is that we, as the people of St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, would live up to our name, that God would give us the grace to join him in the patient process of proclaiming the gospel to East Dallas, and that we would see the kingdom come and God’s will be done here—in East Dallas—as it is in heaven. Glory to God for calling into being, for naming that which was a dream and is now becoming a reality.