“Dummer” students? There are no more Dummer students since the 2004-2005 school year. It’s not that they got smarter, it’s just that there is no more Dummer school. Over the objections of many alumni, the Governor Dummer Academy, in Newbury, MA, which opened in 1763, changed its name to The Governor’s Academy. The school, which has always carried the name of Massachusetts governor William Dummer, decided that the name was not good for public relations, and made it hard to recruit students. It seems that too many just didn’t want to be known as Dummer students. Headmaster John Doggett said they changed the name because “rightly or wrongly, first impressions make a difference.”
Although I don’t have any relationship to the school, it seems sad that a school that had been around for over 350 years felt like it had to change its name.
Names are important, however. “And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:42). That generous Levite from Cyprus, a great encourager, was renamed by the apostles from Joses to Barnabas [The son of consolation, or son of encouragement] (Acts 4:36-37).
Barnabas understood the importance of bringing Saul (later to be known as Paul) to the great missionary congregation at Antioch. “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).
They wore that name of Christian with the understanding that it meant something. Peter said, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:16).
A young soldier that had been a coward was brought before Alexander the Great. When he learned the soldier’s name was “Alexander,” he said, “Either change your name, or change your actions!” Names matter!
If we wear the name Christian, we must live a life unashamed before the world. To do anything else would simply be dumber.