Word of the Week

What's in a Name?

I have one word of advice to all seminary students. There is an important decision to be made. Don't enter full time ministry until you know the answer.

The question is: what will you be called?

I did not have an answer, so confusion has set in. This is especially true because every congregation where I have served has a sort of precedent of what the pastors will be called. And, I haven't always known whether to go with the trend or buck it.

While in serving as a pastoral associate at two churches while in seminary I was Pastor Evans (my maiden name), but Elizabeth with the youth.

While serving as a camp pastor for a children's camp and then as pastoral intern in DC, I was Pastor Elizabeth and sometimes just Elizabeth.

While serving a church in MD, I was Pastor Evans/ then Hagan in worship but Elizabeth everywhere else.

When I arrived at Washington Plaza, I was immediately called by many Rev. Hagan, yet find myself signing most of my emails Elizabeth or Pastor Elizabeth (if I want to be more formal).

After a couple months of experimenting, I finally decided to make Rev. Hagan my name for the bulletin. And everything after this is a free-for-all.

It is craziness I tell you!

I don't know how to fix this other than to say that you can call me what you feel most comfortable with. I am not offended by any of these versions of my name. "Hey you!" might be the only title I would object too.

I do like, however, some formality, especially with adults who are older than me. It does help to bridge the age gap. (I may be young, but don't let that fool you. I might just surprise you!)

So, I guess if I were to choose a name I most like, Pastor Elizabeth would suit me best. (But, then I just can't seem to sign my emails in anything other than Elizabeth. So, maybe the confusion will just keep going on?)

Above all, I appreciate the respect of my calling, ordination and leadership in the church. Titles seem to help with this, but aren't a guarantee of respect. Respect is most what I am looking for when you ask for me and in how you relate to me at work.

Likewise, I seek to treat those under my care with dignity and respect. All I ask is that you do the same with me.

Until then, I'll continue to use whatever name for myself comes out first!