Meaning of “Liminal”

Meaning of “Liminal”


  1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
  2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

We are a church where people can come to explore their faith, deconstruct and reconstruct their faith, embrace or wrestle with skepticism, ask questions, and begin to rebuild that faith. And we understand that answering these questions is not a simple thing, and sometimes we just have to sit in the mystery of it. In 2021 when we knew it was time to undergo a name change from “Ventura Vineyard” to something new, we wanted a name that reflected that. 

As we were searching for our new name, we looked not only at the names that were submitted by our church, but we also looked at the various pieces and parts of them and tried to get the feeling of what people were trying to say. And the name that continued to come up that seemed to get the most support was some variant of the word “Liminal”. But the hesitation was, that’s not a word that’s widely known or used in the masses, nor is it associated with “church”, and we saw the pros and the cons of that. 

The good part of it is that it invites conversation, and we saw that as a very positive thing. It also lacks “churchiness”, which fits us as well. 

When we talked about “Liminal”, we decided that adding the word “Church” sat right with us, that way there would be no question that we are, indeed, a church. But we wanted to make it even clearer, and discovered that could be achieved by adding a tagline. So, the final decision was made. 

The name of our church became Liminal Church of Ventura, with a tagline of “Exploring Faith, Embracing the Mystery”.

Here are some thoughts about our name:

“Our new name represents the journey of our church. Our own liminal space. The threshold between conformity and pursuit. Between blind faith and deeper faith. Liminal is not a place to just exist. Its nature is transitory and implies movement. For our body, that movement is toward the Divine. We are not called to be stagnant or comfortable. We are called to be love and to show love. Let us fervently continue this journey together.” – Jeff Ham

“Attending The Liminal Conference several years ago was my first introduction to this church and to the word liminal. I was surprised to find a church that could be a safe place to bring questions, to bring doubts, to bring my real self. And I was delighted to learn that there was this mysterious word that expressed some of what I was feeling and experiencing. I was moving away from the need to have absolute certainty, learning to see and know God in more diverse and expansive ways and growing to value a place where we could explore this mystery together. Choosing a name that includes Liminal seems appropriate for this embracing community that I love. And I think it is a lovely reminder that we always need to be in a place of humility and growth. Recognizing that we will always be learning, always changing and always being surprised by a knowable and yet unfathomable God.” – Jen Hermann

“I have liked the “Liminal” name ever since I looked up what it meant when we used it for our series of conferences a few years ago. I think it embraces the ever-evolving nature of our faith. It speaks to the fact that we actually value admitting that we don’t have all the answers, and even that we don’t expect to “get there”, but that we do have trust in God and hope for a journey that we can live out together. As Paul put it in 1 Corinthians, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” I like this perspective on life and our journey with and towards God.” – Jared Bangs

“Have you ever walked across a bridge? We all have. Was it made of concrete, steel, wood, or stones? What was below, a river, a canyon, an ocean? What was above, the open sky, a mountain top, another bridge? I love bridges because they bring things together. They remove gaps between sides, people, and perspectives. Bridges remind us that we can move across treacherous and otherwise impassable boundaries. That is what Liminal is to me. It is a means to know what I know but hold that with humility. It means to believe what I believe but realize that belief is transcendent. Liminal means having confidence in processes. Liminal represents holding creative and wonderful tensions that are mysterious. Liminal is a bridge.” – Richard Sochel