Page 8 – “Don’t be ashamed of your name. We know who you are. Don’t you know who you are?”

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Let me tell you a story about how I first became aware of this question. In the 1970’s I and some friends established the Walla Walla Health Education Center at the Walla Walla General Hospital . For those of you who work at the General now, you will not remember these efforts as they took place in the old hospital building on Bonsella Street in Walla Walla, Washington.

Our governing board, which met every three months, included several prominent individuals from the community. At one particular meeting – about one year into our existence, we were discussing the name of the organization and whether it reflected the character and scope of the mission we had imagined for ourselves. One of the community leaders suggested that we include the moniker “Seventh-day Adventist” in our name to reflect the kinds of programs people could expect. Those of us who were Seventh-day Adventists immediately objected vigorously and quickly – and self-consciously – tried to explain. We were concerned that the name would put people off, make them think we had a religious “hook” in what we were doing, raise up “prejudice” against the health center.

The community board member said something I’ll never forget: “Don’t you know who you are? We all know who you are. You’ve been in the community for decades and we’ve come to expect a certain high level of performance in association with that name. Don’t be ashamed of your name. We know who you are. Don’t you know who you are?”