For decades, Rehoboth Baptist Church has been a lonely welcome sign into Claremore off of Highway 66.
That church on the hill is about to get a lot more inviting.
Starting this week, Rehoboth Baptist Church is changing it’s name to King Road Baptist Church, and with the name change they are ushering in a new outlook and identity.
“Over the years our church has become increasingly isolated from the community and inward focused,” said Pastor John Wiley. “Our name had become synonymous with that reputation in the community.”
“Most folks don’t know how to pronounce the name Rehoboth, much less know what it means,” Wiley said.
Rehoboth is a biblical word meaning “God has made room for us.”
“We wanted to get away from that message and instead send a message to the community, to Claremore and Verdigris, that God has made room for you here,” Wiley said. “We wanted a name that would resonate with the community around us.”
And the name serves a practical purpose, because people won’t need to ask where it is.
The name change corresponds with a genuine effort by church leaders to be more outreach oriented.
In the fall the church hosted a fall festival that brought out around 200 people from the community.
Their Christmas stocking giveaway was a big success.
Everyone is invited to community meals every Wednesday night.
And on Easter Sunday they are planning a large, community egg hunt after service.
“We really want to invite our community in more and tell them they are welcome here,” Wiley said. “A name change is one of many changes to get that started.”
Another part of the change is making room for more people to be involved in leadership and ministry in the church.
“When people have more buy-in in the church, they are more likely to invite their friends, family, neighbors and coworkers,” Wiley said. “Any way we can open ourselves up to the community, that is what we are doing.”
And, of course, “We are all about preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Wiley said. “The whole world desperately needs that message.”
The legal process to fully adopt the name change is still underway, but for all intents and purposes, the church’s new name goes into effect at this Sunday’s morning service, where Wiley will speak about the meaning and direction behind the change.
“This church is a family,” Wiley said. “People need support to get through the troubles of this life. We are here to help one another. And we would love for the people of Claremore and Verdigris to come be a part of out family.”