In November 2021, the members of the historic Southside Baptist Church adopted the name ASPIRE CHURCH SAN MARCO. Since 1939, our church has stood in the heart of the San Marco Square sharing the hope and love of Jesus across the street and around the world. Our commitment to this community, our city, and Christ’s mission has not changed, just our name! We are still committed to loving everyone, always!
We invite you to join us as begin a new chapter of ministry for Christ, for the City, for good.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What was wrong with the name Southside Baptist Church? Why would you consider rebranding after more than 80 years of ministry in the same location?
A. While our community was known as the “Southside” back in the 1930s, it has not been known by that name for decades. As a result, people have a hard time finding us. Today, it is only reasonable that people expect a church named Southside Baptist Church to be on the south side of the city. A survey in the San Marco Square quickly revealed that, even with the columns and steeple in the background, people do not know where Southside Baptist Church is located, nor do they know that the “big church on the corner” is named Southside Baptist Church.
Q. Has this changed your core beliefs, theology, practices, vision, mission, values, ministries, worship, or anything about what you do or who you are?
A. No! We simply adopted a name that better reflects who we are, have been, and aspire to become. We have not sought to change the character or essence of our church, but rather to represent ourselves more clearly to those who don’t know us.
Q. When and how did you decide to pursue this idea?
A. In 2019 the congregation of Southside Baptist Church formally adopted the Vision for the City. This included a directive to study our name and consider ways we might increase the visibility of our church and ministries throughout the city of Jacksonville. A task force was formed prior to COVID but had to stop work due to the pandemic. A new task force was assembled in the fall of 2020 and continues to work on this project even now. The Trustees presented the report and recommendation from this task force to the congregation in November of 2021 and the members of the church voted by 2/1 to adopt the new name.
Q. How did you come up with the name “Aspire Church”?
A. This was a long, tedious, and prayerful process. A group of members began by considering who and what Southside is and what it has come to represent in this community. We studied the origins of our church and its rich history. We considered the theological and biblical foundations for the church. We even explored our building’s architecture and the regional topography for ideas. The name “Aspire” was inspired by our iconic steeple (also known as a “spire”). This structure, built in the late 1940s, was and is among the tallest structures in San Marco. It can be seen from five of Jacksonville’s seven bridges. Our steeple has become a geographic landmark. It has been featured prominently in church publications going all the way back to the 1940s. We felt like this was the perfect name to capture our heritage and legacy while still pointing us onward and upward toward God’s high calling.
Q. What does “Aspire Church” mean?
A. The word “aspire” means to rise high or tower; to direct one’s ambitions toward achieving something. It comes from the Latin word aspirare, meaning to breathe. We know and proclaim that salvation does not come through ambition or achievement, but only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we do not aspire toward something God is freely giving us, but rather, like the apostle Paul, “[we] press on (aspire) to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of [us]. [We] do not consider [ourselves] to have taken hold of it yet. But one thing [we] do: Forgetting what is behind and straining (aspiring) toward what is ahead, [we] press on (aspire) toward the goal to which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
Q. Why did you take “Baptist” out of the name?
A. As Jacksonville continues to experience unprecedented growth, people with little, no, or negative church experiences continue to move within the shadow of our steeple. We want to remove every barrier to the Gospel to reach as many people as possible.
Q. Are you still a Baptist church?
A. Yes! We don’t believe what we believe because we’re Baptists, but because we are a people who seek to faithfully follow Jesus and His Word. There are many “Baptist” churches that may or may not believe the same things or interpret scripture as we do. Every Southern Baptist church is completely autonomous. We are not as concerned with publicly showing that we are “good Baptists” as we are with showing the world that we are following Jesus by demonstrating and proclaiming His love to everyone, always. Our statement of faith and essential beliefs remain unchanged and are available on our website. Denominational labels are no guarantee of orthodox teaching in a church. There are numerous examples in Jacksonville of churches that have a mainline denomination’s label on their sign, but who have seriously veered from orthodox Christian doctrine. We believe that the uniqueness of our name will make it easier for people to find us online. This will allow people to come to know who we are and what we believe, without confusing us with the dozens of other Southside Baptist Churches that exist in North America.
Q. What about people who are specifically looking for a Baptist church?
A. “Aspire Church, San Marco” will continue to come up in internet searches that include the word “Baptist” and/or “Southern Baptist.” We will also continue to tell those who inquire that we are an SBC church. While we understand that a few may be confused or turned off because “Baptist” will not appear in our name, we also know that those same people are most likely committed churchgoers who will simply find another Baptist church to attend. We believe there are far more people who will not care or who see the name “Baptist” as an obstacle. Most of those individuals are very likely de-churched or unchurched with little or no knowledge of the Gospel.
Q. When will we begin to see and use the name Aspire Church San Marco?
A. We have already started the process of converting everything from Southside to Aspire. We anticipate that this will take several months. Our current goal is to “go public” with the new branding on Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022.
Q. Do I need to change how I make out my checks or where and how I give my offering each week? What name should I write on my checks to the church?
A. You don’t have to change anything about your financial dealings with the church. Because we aren’t legally changing our name, anyone can still use the name Southside Baptist Church. Also, because we have filed a DBA (doing business as) with the appropriate agencies and organizations, people can also use the name “Aspire Church” on any checks or correspondence.