At the end of 2020, Stephen Davey’s home church in Cary, North Carolina underwent a significant name change, from Colonial Baptist Church to The Shepherd’s Church. This change was the result of prayer and conversation between Stephen and his elder team, and as they continue moving forward with this transition, we wanted to sit down with Stephen to find out more.
Chad: Stephen, before I ask you about the new name for the church, what’s the story behind its former name, Colonial Baptist Church?
Stephen: That’s a great question because it’s confused many people over the years. I grew up living near Williamsburg, Virginia. I can recall many visits that created an appreciation for the colonial-style architecture which included corner quoins, columns and Palladian windows. When my father planted a church in Virginia Beach while I was away at college, I immediately liked the name he chose for the new church: Colonial Baptist Church.
Thirty-four years ago, when Marsha and I moved to Cary, North Carolina, along with our 5-month-old twin sons, we planted our new church and had 28 complete strangers show up for the very first worship service in a nearby middle school. By the grace of God, six months later, 56 believers officially joined Marsha and me as we united around a doctrinal statement, bylaws. We essentially borrowed that same church name from my father’s church because of our shared appreciation for a Colonial style of architecture.
Chad: What prompted changing the name to The Shepherd’s Church?
Stephen: Several years after planting the church, I began traveling and preaching internationally in places like India and Africa. While in other parts of the world, I quickly realized that the name of our church raised questions and created confusion. My audiences in those nations would ask me: “Why would you name your church after Great Britain’s colonial expansion? What do the Colonies have to do with your church?” At several rallies, I needed to follow my host’s introduction by explaining that the term “Colonial” was an architectural style, not a statement on imperialism. The audiences would immediately smile and relax. Of course, it didn’t help that my last name (Davey) means “peanut-butter” in Swahili.
Over the past 20 years, especially, our ministry has experienced the unique blessing of the Lord through radio and internet and my sermons are now watched online and aired in numerous languages to listeners in more than 180 nations. It isn’t unusual to receive questions about our Colonial Baptist “name”; thus, it grew more and more important to have a new name that more accurately identified who we are as a church.
Chad: What’s the significance of the new name: The Shepherd’s Church?
Stephen: In my opinion, the most important part of the new name is the apostrophe that makes the word Shepherd a possessive word. Our desire is to proclaim the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to know Him and to make Him known. We belong to the Chief Shepherd of the church.
Instead of being identified with a period of history or a style of architecture, we want our community and the world to understand our commitment to Christ and our identity with him as our Savior and Lord.
Chad: Has anything else changed? For example, is there any change in doctrine?
Stephen: No, there are no changes to our doctrine. We remain committed to the teaching of God’s Word and to the doctrinal statement of the church. We are still “baptistic” in that we are committed to believer’s baptism. Nothing will change in what we practice or believe. We simply wanted a name that identifies us as a body of believers, belonging to Jesus Christ.
Chad: Finally, is there any change to our ministry, Wisdom International?
Stephen: Not at all. Even though we like to say that Wisdom International and The Shepherd’s Church are joined at the heart, they are separate ministries. Wisdom International has a separate board of directors, separate facilities and a separate budget, met entirely by our listening family. The name Wisdom International continues to resonate because our mission is to take the wisdom of God’s Word to our needy world. We will continue to do that through our daily broadcast, Wisdom for the Heart; our monthly magazine, Heart To Heart; and our soon-coming, three-year, weekday program, taking listeners through the entire Bible, called The Wisdom Journey.