For a long time, the Seventh-day Adventist congregations found in Racine and Kenosha counties were said to be a part of the “Racine District” of churches. This is typical nomenclature in our church: When there are multiple churches under the purview of one pastor, those churches are said to be a part of a “district” and usually--whether due to size or prominence--one of those churches dictates the name of the district. So while there were multiple churches in these counties, they were (and are still) under one pastor and were considered a part of his district: The Racine District.
I’ve been the pastor here for two years now, and people still call the congregations here the Racine District churches. However, about a year ago we made the intentional decision (agreed upon by the various church leaderships) to rebrand ourselves as WISEN: Wisconsin’s Southeastern Network.
Here is the reasoning behind this decision.
We found the title Racine District to be unhelpful in two ways that we wanted to change. First of all, it was rooted in a very specific location--Racine--when our churches serve multiple communities, and Racine is only one. Using the locational language of Wisconsin’s Southeast not only is a better descriptor of what currently is, but also doesn’t limit if these churches wanted to eventually plant locations in other surrounding cities, towns, or even counties.
Second, the word “district” is quite formal and governmental sounding. In the same way that an alderman has a district of a city or a congressman has a congressional district, the idea was that a pastor also has a district that he serves. However, we wanted a change that implied less that we just happen to be in a shared geographical area, and we further wanted to send a message that there was an interconnection between the entities being described. So the word “network,” being defined as a group of entities that are connected and work together, seemed more appropriate.
People still call us the Racine District. We still accidentally call ourselves that. Sometimes it’s hard to break an old habit. The new name, however, is important because of the factors above.
We want to serve Jesus in our geographical area, but not to be limited by overly-specific language. We want to serve Jesus on our unique campuses, but we don’t want to do so with indifference to--or worse, in competition with--one another. We are on the same team: Christ’s team.
So when you see the name “WISEN” or see our logo or wonder why we’ve been so seemingly obsessed with our branding, these are the intentions behind these things. We hope the reader takes these things to heart as well. We cannot win victory for Christ if we do not see ourselves as part of something greater than what is going on in our respective church buildings. Especially in an urban and geographically-close context such as ours (our churches are all about a half hour or less apart from each other). Between the counties of Racine and Kenosha, there are around 365,000 inhabitants. Working independently, we can make an impact for Jesus, sure. But imagine the impact we could have if we really get to know the other Seventh-day Adventists--even, less specifically, the other Christians--in the area and learned to work toward the same goals. We do good when one or two gather together, yes. When we all get together in Christ, however, we are unstoppable. In other words, when the Body of Christ works in unison, Christ can do what truly needs to be done.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” --Matthew 24:14