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BibleLands change to ‘reflect calling’

31 August 2012

AFTER 158 years of Christian social ministry in the Middle East, BibleLands has become the latest Christian charity to rebrand itself in the name of modernity.

In a statement issued on Monday of last week, the charity said that its new name, "Embrace the Middle East", was chosen "because it described where we worked and we felt it reflected our Christian calling to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry and help the homeless". The cross at the centre of its new logo "emphasises our confidence as a Christian charity", it said.

It said that research among potential supporters had shown that many Christians were deterred by the old name, regarding it as "quaint and old-fashioned". Others had assumed that the charity distributed Bibles, or was "explicitly evangelistic". The new name was selected after focus groups of "key stakeholders" met.

The rebranding cost £150,000, funded by the surplus made during the move from the charity's previous offices in 2010. The aim of the relaunch is to raise £20 million in the next five years.

In a sign that it has noted the experience of USPG, which recently rebutted accusations that it had jettisoned its earlier name because it was "embarrassed by the gospel", (News, 20 July), Embrace the Middle East said: "We are definitely not secularising the charity," but "all charities, including Christian ones, have to move with the times, while keeping to their core values."

Lea Doherty, a brand consultant at Radley Yeldar, whose clients include the NSPCC, said that there were "lots of examples" of name changes in the corporate sector which had led to public outcry, including the change from Anderson Consulting to Accenture, which was described as "one of the world's worst name-changes in history". She also gave the example of the Spastics Society, which was renamed Scope in 1994. The benefits of losing a word that had become an abusive term "far outweighed" the risk, even though it was an established household name.

Other charities that have removed an explicit Christian reference from their names include the Children's Society (formerly the Church of England Children's Society), Platform 51 (formerly the Young Women's Christian Association), and Keychange Charity (formerly Christian Alliance). Crosslinks was formerly the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society, and Urban Saints was once Crusaders. Others, such as the Society for the Assistance of Ladies in Reduced Circumstances, have kept their historic names.


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