Campus Crusade for Christ adopts a more sensitive name

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Concerned that the name Campus Crusade for Christ was acting as a barrier to outreach, the 60-year-old ministry group’s leaders announced at a conference this week that beginning in 2012 they will call their organization “Cru.”

“We’ve been having issues with two words in the name — campus and crusade,” vice president Steve Sellers told Religion News Service.

While much of the focus has been on the politically correct extrication of the Savior’s name from the title, Sellers noted that eliminating the word “Crusade” was just as important, given its historical association with violence.

“In today’s culture it carries more weight in terms of its historic meaning,” Sellers added explaining that the word, to many, has a negative connotation recalling “the days of the Crusaders and dealing with the Middle East as opposed to a positive use of the word.”

According to Steve Douglass, president of Campus Crusade for Christ, the decision to change the name was a product of a great deal of prayer and contemplation.

While Christ is no longer in the name, Jesus of Nazareth remains very much the focus.

“This decision has been saturated with prayer. We only want what God wants for us. And while we are excited about this name, we are even more excited about our renewed commitment to our mission,” Douglass said. “We believe this new name will position us to connect better with the next generation.”

Vonette Bright, who co-founded Campus Crusade for Christ with her husband Bill in 1951, noted that they had always been willing to change the name.

“From the beginning, Bill was open to changing our name. He never felt it was set in stone. In fact, he actually considered changing the name 20 or 25 years ago,” Bright said in a statement. “We want to remove any obstacle to people hearing about the most important person who ever lived — Jesus Christ.”

Select campuses across the country have already been using name Cru for years. Sellers noted that, based on research, 9 percent of Christians and 20 percent of non-Christians were turned off by the current name.

“We believe wholeheartedly that God has given us this new name,” said Steve Sellers, vice president for the U.S. for Campus Crusade for Christ. “Our team understands that our name is really for the benefit of others. Ultimately, it’s not about our name, but how we live out our mission everyday.”

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Caroline May