Goodbye Pilgrims, Plymouth Church Rocks It Old School

Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, the historic Brooklyn Heights institution on Orange Street announced today that is returning to its original name. The congregation will now be known as Plymouth Church, just as it was when the legendary Henry Ward Beecher preached there.

“Of the Pilgrims” was added in 1934 when Plymouth merged with the now defunct Church of the Pilgrims on Remsen Street (it is now the Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral).

Why the change and new logo? Read the full press release after the jump.

Plymouth Church Press Release: Brooklyn, NY. In seeking a new identity for a renewed congregation, Plymouth Church—the historic landmark Congregational Church in Brooklyn Heights—looked to the past. The congregation began its life in 1847 as Plymouth Church with the celebrated Rev. Henry Ward Beecher as its first settled minister. It was not until the 1934 merger with Church of the Pilgrims, a fellow Congregational church on Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights, that the name Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims first appeared.

In recent years, the idea of abandoning the composite name gained support within the Plymouth congregation. “Many members felt it was a clumsy hybrid name for a congregation that sees itself as vital and rejuvenated,” explains Senior Minister Rev. Dr. David C. Fisher. “Our goal was to modernize without losing a sense of Plymouth’s rich history. Returning to the name Plymouth Church felt like the perfect solution.”

Before launching as Plymouth Church minus “of the Pilgrims,” the congregation embarked on a process of self-learning and discovery to better understand its current attributes and goals. Beginning in the spring of 2010, a group of volunteer members experienced in branding and identity development (Timothy Malefyt, Peter Bysshe and Tony Kleckner) led focus groups, interviews and discussions with church leadership. According to Sandra Deming, President of the Plymouth Council, most of the congregation was already using a shortened name for the church. “Today’s members think of this place as ‘Plymouth,’” she points out. “The concept of ‘Pilgrims’ is not central to the draw that brings people to the church.” In May 2011, following approval of the name change, the Plymouth Council adopted a new mission statement to better focus and support church decision-making and communications, together with a new tagline, “Knowing God. Growing together.”

With the adoption of a new tagline and a shortened name, Manhattan-based graphic designer Alan Barnett revised his 2004 identity for Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, retaining the existing multi-colored cross design. The new logo for Plymouth Church will begin appearing on church banners, signage and print materials in early September.

Share this Story:
  • Topham Beauclerk

    We’d all be grateful if the name change included the dropping of the vulgar tagline.

  • stuart

    Plymouth Church of the WASPS in now just Plymouth Church. OK, I can live with that.

  • Topham Beauclerk

    Thank you, Homer.

  • nabeguy

    What’s the matter with the tagline Topham? Too semitic for you?

  • Topham Beauclerk


    Taglines belong to commercial enterprises. There are some, not altogether unreasonably, who would consider any religion to be a commercial enterprise but I do not. So, I oppose the very idea of a tagline for a church and this particular manifestation of the genre is more than usually vacuous.

  • Tony

    @ nabeguy: A strained attempt at humor. There’s nothing remotely Semitic about the tagline. Try a little harder next time.

  • Hicks St Guy

    @Tony, doesn’t take much to get Topham going.