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North of England

Church mistaken for synagogue and mosque changes name

todayOctober 16, 2017 22

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The Baptist Tabernacle will now be called Stockton Baptist Church.

Senior minister Andrew Waugh from the church told Premier that despite the cross on the building, people routinely asked “what is this place”?

The County Durham church, which started to be built in 1902, moved in August 2001 into a new, purpose built building next to the riverside in Stockton.

Waugh told Premier that this move prompted the need to change the church’s name.

Speaking during News Hour he said: “I’ve been pastoring this church for six years and began to recognise pretty early on that you just keep needing to explain to people what a tabernacle is and spelling it.

“We’ve overheard people giving directions in the street and referring to our building as a mosque and a synagogue. It’s a modern building – it’s not kind of traditionally church-shaped and it doesn’t really identify us a Christian community.”

A compulsory purchase order forced the church to move from the high street in August 2001into its current, purpose built building next to the riverside in Stockton.

Waugh said this move prompted the name-change.

He said: “When we moved away from the high-street – several blocks away, I think we kind of vanished from public view and lost a lot of our public image at that point.”

Members of the church voted in favour of the church changing its name in a formal vote in April, before the Charity Commission was informed.

Waugh commended members and said they gave up a “much loved name for the sake of the people that don’t know Jesus yet”.

Although 114 years have passed since the laying of the original foundation stone, the church’s website states that “the message is still the same”.

It goes on to say: “Our Church wants people to connect with Jesus and come to a real and living faith in Him.

“This is still the home of the church today.”

There was another change needed to help people find the church more easily.

Waugh explained: “We’ve changed our website along with the name. The previous generation of our website didn’t actually include the word ‘church’ anywhere on its front cover.

“So if you used to do a google search, just asking ‘can I find a church in Stockton, you wouldn’t find us.”

Waugh said that while changing the name of the church was a good decision, it doesn’t necessarily mean other churches with tabernacle in its name should do the same.

Listen to Andrew Waugh speaking with Premier’s Alex Williams:

A Stockton church has decided to change its name after being mistaken for a synagogue and a mosque.

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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