Church opts for name change to promote openness and inclusivity

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For decades, it's been known as the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ." Now the congregation is making a statement.

The church on Brookside Boulevard will be renamed. Members say it's to make sure that everyone knows they are welcome.

"At our church every Sunday, we say whoever you are and wherever you are on life's journey, you're welcome here," Rev. Chase Peeples said.

Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ Pastor Chase Peeples said having the words "country club" in its name is on they way out.

"To many people (it) connotes rich, white, and exclusive, and that is not who we are," Peeples explained.

The church opened in 1923 in the heart of Kansas City's Country Club District.

"Which is a very beautiful part of KC, however it also was racially segregated, and the deeds were racially restricted, and we don't want to be leading with that as we identify ourselves with the community," Peeples added.

Church leaders describe the congregation as socially progressive; about 50 percent of the church's members are from the LGBTQ community.

"I hear over and over stories of people who say, 'we didn't come and visit you because "country club" is in your name, and then we found out that you are inclusive of LGBTQ members and we basically got over the name in order to be a part of your church,'" Associate Minister Bethany Meier said.

A task force has come up with a name and will present it to the congregation.

Church leaders said it won't be a total name change.

"United Church of Christ will definitely be in there," Meier said.

There has been some push back from a small minority of church members. Pastor Peeples said church leaders will work hard to keep the history of the good works done by this church, and move forward with its arms wide open.