All Souls Fellowship began in the Fall of 2000 when Shayne Wheeler, our pastor, stumbled upon Decatur when meeting a friend for lunch. The aesthetic beauty, the diversity of humanity, and the wonderful cultural identity captured his heart and the vision was born.
The Wheelers moved to Decatur in July, 2001 and began laying the groundwork for a new church in Decatur. Finally, in February 2003, with a group of approximately 40 adults, the "Launch Team" was formed and began meeting most weeks for prayer, study, and planning.
On September 7th, 2003, we held our first public service of worship at the Old Courthouse on the Square in downtown Decatur. We were there for a number of weeks before moving to an old, dingy, sad little office space that we made into a sanctuary. Seriously, it was pathetic, but it was our home for many weeks until we were able to relocate to our current facility in December 2003.
As the church began to grow, God brought wonderful and capable folks to assist in the ministry of All Souls. You can read all about them on the "Our Staff" page.
One of the first things about our church that strikes folks as weird is our name. All Souls Fellowship. What kind of a name is that?
It is clear from the Bible that names are frequently intended to mean something. Over and over again, we see that a name is given (or changed) in order to communicate a deeper meaning. For example, Abram's name was changed to Abraham. Why? In Genesis 17:4-5, God says to Abram, "this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram, your name will be Abraham." Abraham means ‘father of many.' Abraham's name reflected the covenant God made with Abraham.
We see this throughout the Scriptures. A couple of the more prominent examples are when Jacob's name was changed to Israel (Gen. 32:28) and when God instructed Joseph to give the child the name Jesus (Matt. 1:21).
A name can give significance and meaning. It can reflect purpose or identity. It tells us who we are, or what we are about. If a person does not pronounce or spell our name correctly, we feel like they have somehow misunderstood or misrepresented us. Our name is important to us because it somehow reflects who we are.
Likewise with the church. What you name a church will reflect some aspect of that church – location, mission, theological conviction, etc.. A church's name gives the community an ‘identifier' to hold onto.