More Thoughts on Our Name Change Discussions – Spring 2022

Church exterior, with Clara Barton Square sign

We are circling back to conversations which happened last fall to determine if there is enough support by members of the congregation to change the name of the church.  Below is a report on the last conversation had within the congregation.  The Committee on Right Relations and the Board encourage members and friends to read this summary and then to offer their opinion in a short poll. CLICK HERE FOR THE POLL.

Last September, members and friends met with representatives of the Committee on Right Relations and the Board of Management to continue discussing the idea of a possible name change for UUCW.  During the discussion participants shared personal experiences that influenced their feelings about a possible change in our name. Various options were discussed including “church”, “congregation”, “community”, “fellowship”, along with the connotations and definitions associated with these terms.

Discussion also focused on how a name change could affect the way we talk about UUCW with those outside our congregation.  For example, what word do we use when we say “This Sunday, I’m going to….” Participants wondered about how a name change might affect such conversations and if we are limited by English language to a word like church, no matter what we call ourselves?

Some shared that the last survey made it clear that there might be a need for a different way of asking questions, or a better way to elicit feedback from the congregation. Participants discussed simplifying the questions we ask, especially now that we have moved past the first stage of the conversation (i.e. “Should we change the name of our church?” (Y/N), and if yes, then choose from two possible names.)

Some pondered if there was some ambivalence around different words, or a lack of strong feeling. Some thought that “community” and “congregation” are quite similar and wondered what the result would be if the choices were fairly different in structure, but both could maintain elements that seemed important to most people. Some of the choices discussed were keeping the acronym UUCW, maintaining Unitarian Universalist in that order to align with the larger UU movement, expressing that this is a religious/spiritual community and also being welcoming of all.  There was also some interest expressed in using a prefix to UUCW such as “Tapestry” or “Mosaic”, that expresses our diverse community and goals, while keeping UUCW intact.

The Committee on Right Relations during its meeting to debrief the congregational discussions, discussed the idea of decoupling the initialism “UUCW” in a way that allowed people to express the meaning of the letters in a way that is most comfortable and appropriate for them.  Such a strategy embraces the ethic of inclusion that is already a spiritual hallmark of UUCW as represented by the symbols on our building and in the sanctuary.  The choice for a name might then be something like “UUCW: Unitarian Universalists on Clara Barton Square” (or Shore Drive, etc.) And tag lines could be crafted to support the name such as “Where Church, Congregation and Community Unite”, “A Fellowship of All Souls” or “A Community That Unites All People”, etc.

With the above in mind, members of the Committee on Right Relations wondered if the choices might be something like:

  • Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Worcester (which maintains the acronym UUCW) and changes church to congregation
  • All Souls : A Unitarian Universalist Community (speaks to the inclusive nature of the congregation and reflects our Universalist heritage) 

The Board then recommended a further poll that asked the congregation whether they wanted a name change and if so, give them the two different options to consider.  Such a poll would then inform next steps as to whether to approach the congregation to vote on a name change or to continue the discussion until more consensus was reached.   

In order to assess how best to further this process toward more discussion and decision-making, please take a moment to share your perspective. Please note that the question related to a possible name change is about “types” of name, not specific names.  CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE POLL

If you would like to comment further on this discussion, please email the Committee on Right Relations