On June 26 our partners voted to officially change the name of our church from “Highrock Covenant Church or Quincy” to “Granite City Covenant Church”. This summer we will begin to roll out this new name. We’re so excited about what God has in store for us as we move into this new season. We know that with that excitement may come some anxiety. Don’t worry, we’re still going to be the same church. Same people. Following the same Jesus. Below are some frequently asked questions about the name change.
Why "Granite City"?
When Highrock planted a church in Quincy 10 years ago, the vision was that it would be a local congregation for Quincy and the surrounding communities. In recent years, the Highrock Campus churches have adopted a much more regional, even national call in their mission, but we still feel called to Quincy.
Granite City is a commonly used phrase for businesses in Quincy and surrounding communities. Many of you know that a big part of our city’s HISTORY is founded on granite. In fact the first railroad in the country was built here in Quincy for the purpose of moving granite. If you’ve ever been up to the Quincy Granite quarries, you know just how much granite is up there, and how much was REMOVED from there... our city is BUILT on that granite.
The Covenant Church of Quincy was planted in the 1870’s by Swedish immigrants who crossed an ocean to work in the Quincy granite quarries. These workers were followed by Swedish missionaries who evangelized the quarrymen. Granite is in our church family history! Moreover, adopting the name “Granite City Church” will allow us to hang onto the ‘rock’ motif that we love so much from our Highrock lineage.
The theme of strong, high immovable rocks is found throughout scripture. “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” it says in Psalm 61. One Psalm later, Psalm 62 says, “[God] only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”
We LOVE this idea that God provides for us an unshakable reality that can’t be moved. That’s an encouraging thought in a time when our cultural ideologies waver back and forth without firm ground to stand on. Jesus himself reminds us at the end of his famous Sermon on the Mount that “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
Using ‘City’ as a reference to a church is a commonly used naming convention for the past couple decades. Moreover, it is one that has not been short-lived or trendy, it’s lasted. The fact that ‘Granite City’ is a phrase infrequently used to describe Quincy was helpful in providing us something fresh and lasting at the same time.
Back in February, the Highrock Network Board made the decision that the challenges of pandemic and a new church landscape, had made ministry as a network too challenging to fulfill our original mission of planting churches. In addition the beautiful localization of each Highrock church had created such differentiation between our churches that we have been experiencing brand confusion in regards to the question “what makes a church distinctly ‘Highrock’?” Given these challenges we made the very amicable decision to dissolve the network. The name “Highrock” will be retained by the 4 Highrock campus church. While the 6 independent churches will each adopt new names, as we have.
Yes, and we suspect that our connection to the denomination will increase in depth as we now have some increased freedom to engage with our conference and denomination. The official name of the church will be “Granite City Covenant Church”, but we will go by the name “Granite City Church” since denomination names like ‘Covenant’ bear little weight to most people looking for churches today. Our friends at Covenant offices and the East Coast Conference have been walking with us in this process and they approve (and love) our new name.
In early April our partners commissioned a re-branding committee to come up with a new name, new values and new mission statement. This committee is still working on the mission and values, but the name came relatively quickly in the process, for which we are grateful. From the beginning we wanted to bathe this process in prayer, trusting that just like God had a new name for Abram, Sarai and Simon in the Bible, God also had a new name for Highrock Quincy. And we feel confident that we’ve heard that name. Two members of the team arrived at the name independently, and the name was unanimously advanced from committee to our church partners. The name was changed with the Secretary of State’s office earlier this week.
Along with the name we will be seizing this opportunity to make some other more subtle changes.
We are currently working with the rebranding committee to reimagine our mission and values in a way that makes more sense for who we are as a church.
When we started Highrock we decided to call ‘members’ by the name ‘partners’. We were hoping at the time to embrace as sense of ‘we’re in this together’. We understand though that this unconventional name can cause some confusion, so we will be changing reverting to the more widely used ‘members’ and ‘membership’.
The Highrock Network to Dissolve A Letter Sent to all Highrock Churches about the Network
March 6, 2022
Dear Highrock Churches,
Today we want to share an important change we are dreaming about for the future of the Highrock Network and our shared life together. Nothing is changing immediately, but we want to share the direction we are discerning for the future.
Highrock’s mission is “to create communities that encourage questions & inspire each other to love like Jesus.” “Communities” is deliberately plural in our mission, because rather than restrict ourselves to one population or place, we want to create many different communities that can serve many different people.
For that reason, back in 2004, Highrock birthed its very first “daughter” church in Long Island. However, despite a strong start, when they encountered challenges we lacked the proximity or structures to support them adequately, and they eventually closed.
That experience inspired a vision for a new way of birthing congregations in which the parent church offers ongoing support to help children survive and thrive. In addition to an early infusion of finances, they would inherit our culture and resources, including our name and “brand recognition” that would help them get established in their new neighborhoods more quickly. And we would stay in close relationship to offer ongoing support. The Highrock Network was born.
In 2008 Highrock Arlington birthed a new church in Brookline. Seeing the success of our new model, in 2012 we gave birth to “twins” in Quincy and the North Shore. Since then we’ve used that model to send churches to Acton, Malden, and Haverhill as well, and the Highrock Network served as an incubator that helped all these churches grow from infancy toward maturity. This maturing process has come with changes.
First, as our churches mature through adolescence and adulthood, they naturally and increasingly individuate by discerning their distinctive identity and calling. Our network was designed to incubate infants, and has done that well, but now the constraint of sharing one brand is interfering with our ability to continue maturing and contextualizing in our diverse locations, and respond to the unique ways the Spirit is leading us. That also means that our shared name, but diverse approaches to ministry and theology, now creates inconsistency about what someone should expect at a “Highrock Church”. All this to say, the structures that once offered much-needed stability are now inhibiting new creativity.
Second, the Network’s primary mission was church planting. However, the church planting landscape has changed significantly over the past five years as denominations make new discoveries about what works and doesn’t, as the digital revolution introduces new modalities of ministry, and as denominational funding for church planting has become less abundant. These have combined to make our Network’s approach to church-planting less effective in our current environment and our shared mandate less clear.
So we are now envisioning a new era. Parents celebrate when a child is born, and again when that child graduates or gets married, marking that the child is no longer a child at all, but an adult. Parents transition to being friends. The children may vote differently, think differently, spend money differently, or have different priorities, but creating unique individuals was always the goal, so we continue to love each other while also learning from each other.
This is happening already as our congregations have matured, and we are very grateful. So it is past time to update our structures to reflect the realities of our current needs.
Over the next year or two we will welcome into adulthood Highrock Acton, Brookline, Haverhill, Malden, North Shore, and Quincy churches, which already have independent finances and leadership, acknowledging that some of these congregations have been “all grown up” for many years already. Highrock Arlington and its sister campuses - Cambridge, Lexington, MetroWest, & Online - will continue operating as one church under the Highrock name.
Whenever a congregation is ready, it will take on a new name that reflects their unique calling and story, even while the Highrock mission and values remain in their DNA. Although we will no longer share a “brand”, we will continue to share resources and relationships. Therefore, in this process we will assess the unique circumstances of each congregation to discern what ongoing needs they may have. During this transition, the personnel and financial resources of the Highrock Network will be devoted to supporting the independent churches in the process of rebranding.
We’ve all become so accustomed to church splits and church scandals that people may assume that there must be some dark secrets or angry divisions behind this transition. You won’t find those here. This was a decision reached cooperatively as we all discerned that it was time to change our structures to reflect our current needs. Accordingly, as each church launches, we plan to throw a party celebrating what God has done so far, and anticipating the new things God will do next.
That said, anyone who has launched adult children knows that it’s always attended by mixed emotions. For both parent and child, there is grief that the relationship is changing, combined with excitement about seeing new possibilities and dreams realized. Like all of us, you may feel a mix of emotions. We encourage you to engage the opportunities your local pastor will provide to process the implications of this transition for your congregation.
In 2008 we coined the phrase “independent but in love” to describe the relationships between churches we hoped for in our new network. That will be fully realized as we officially move toward truly independent churches that are bound not by branding, budgets, and by-laws, but by mutual love.
The Lead Pastors & Executive Board of the Highrock Network
Becky Manseau Barnett, Co-lead Pastor, Highrock Acton
Will Barnett, Co-lead Pastor, Highrock Acton
Glen Comiso, Executive Board Member, Highrock Network
Zeb Egbert, Executive Board Member, Highrock Network
Kat Hampson, Lead Pastor, Highrock Brookline
Brynn Harrington, Lead Pastor, Highrock North Shore
Joseph Lee, Chair, Highrock Network
Edwin Menon, Lead Pastor, Highrock Malden
Stephen Sharkey, Lead Pastor, Highrock Quincy
Dave Swaim, Senior Pastor, Highrock Church
Matt Webel, Lead Pastor, Highrock Haverhill