The former Morrill Baptist Church has changed its name to Veracity Chapel, following years of discussion in the congregation about changing the name and a months-long process of soliciting and considering possible new names, according to its pastor, the Rev. Jim Culbertson.

He said church members had felt for some time that many outsiders were either unsure what "Baptist" meant or had negative associations with it, and wanted to change it to be more "community-friendly." Culbertson had previously told The Republican Journal that the church has not been associated with the Baptist denomination for years.

In addition, the church, which draws its membership from a wide area, including many towns in Knox and Waldo counties, would like to have satellite locations besides its main campus, and so wanted to shed the geographical limitations of having "Morrill" as part of its name.

The name "Veracity Chapel" embodies the notions of truth and love, Culbertson said. "Veracity" means truthfulness, accuracy or honesty, while the word "chapel" is associated with love because of a legend about a medieval saint. The word derived from the Latin "capella," or "cape," and, as the etymology website etymonline explains, "By tradition, the name is originally in reference to the sanctuary in France in which the miraculous cape of St. Martin of Tours, patron saint of France, was preserved. (While serving Rome as a soldier deployed in Gaul, Martin cut his military coat in half to share it with a ragged beggar. That night, Martin dreamed of Christ wearing the half-cloak; the half Martin kept was the relic.)"

The new name was announced May 20, and the pastor admitted that he wasn't sure what he thought about it himself at first, but said it has grown on him. He likes the fact that people ask about its meaning, because that gives him and his parishioners a chance to talk to them. "We want to conform to God's truth," he said, and to challenge one another to live according to that truth.

The church formed a committee to work on a new name, and included new and longtime members, men and women. The committee asked the congregation for ideas, and received 60 suggestions, Culbertson said, which it narrowed down, first to four or five, and finally to a single name, which the church leadership approved. There was no vote of the congregation, he said, because church leaders felt that if it were rejected that would be a sign of disrespect to the work done by the committee.

Just as in scripture, figures like Abraham, Jacob and Peter received new names when they were chosen to carry out God's work, by taking on a new name, Veracity Chapel hopes to create a new identity in the community — one that is welcoming, faithful and loving.

For now, the old sign in front of the church is draped in a banner with the new name, and the old name appears in smaller lettering at the bottom, so people can get used to the new identity, Culbertson said. The banner will stay up for some months — maybe even a year — before a permanent sign with the new name takes its place, he said.