From the Board: Feedback from the Congregation on the Discussions of the Church Name, and Next Steps

Church exterior, with Clara Barton Square sign

Over the past month, multiple meetings have been held with the congregation to discuss the idea of choosing a different name for our church.  The Board of Management would like to update you on the results of these meetings, our process for continuing to gather feedback from the congregation, and eventually enabling the congregation to make a decision.

If you have not yet read the first document we published – “Information on a Process for Reexamining the Name of Our Church”

CLICK HERE to view the document.

Feedback from Discussions

The general idea of changing our name was widely accepted.  Most of the participants felt that if a new name better described our church, they would be willing to agree to a change.

Many congregants saw value in retaining our UUCW acronym in order to simplify the change and avoid some confusion in the greater community if we change our name.

There was wide agreement that in choosing a new name, we need to consider not only how we think about our church, but also our brand – how any name appears to the outside world, and what effect it might have on recruiting new members.

A significant number of congregants are uncomfortable with the word “church” in our name, because it is associated with Christianity, and are enthusiastic about the opportunity to remove it. However, several people stated that the word “church” was one of the things that brought them to our congregation.

There has been significant discussion at all of the meetings about the “C” in UUCW – church, congregation, and community were primarily considered.  Society and fellowship were often mentioned, but did not seem to garner significant support or enthusiasm – we think primarily because of a desire to retain UUCW.  Many members noted that the word “congregation” retains a religious connotation – a positive for most, but a negative for some.  Multiple people expressed a concern that the word “community” was simply too generic.

Our original paper proposed the idea of reversing “Unitarian Universalist” to “Universalist Unitarian”.  Some people felt that Universalist Unitarian simply did not sound as good as Unitarian Universalist.  Many were also rather indifferent to this entire question, feeling that they would be happy either way.

There was some concern expressed that this could somehow alienate us from the Unitarian Universalist Association.  However, we have found that there are at least 20 congregations in the UUA that use “Universalist Unitarian” in their name.  There are many more that, like us, were Universalists prior to the Unitarian / Universalist merger in 1962, and decided not to change their name, such as the Foxborough Universalist Church.  There are also a large number of UUA churches that have neither Unitarian nor Universalist in their name, for example, the “Arlington Street Church” and “The King’s Chapel” in Boston, two of our older churches.

Some other names were suggested.  One category of names that came up repeatedly was adding some geographic feature to our name – examples include “UUCW on Shore Drive” and “UUCW at Clara Barton Square”.

Discussion of our brand often included enthusiasm for the idea of adding a tagline to our name.  Our website currently includes the words “A Congregation of Love, Hope and Justice” below our name on our home page.

Next Steps

We are establishing two additional methods to receive feedback from the congregation.  An online form is already available to provide feedback.  The format of this form is meant to mimic that of the discussion groups. 

Click Here to view the form.

We have also created an online poll to gather statistical data on which names are preferred by the congregation.  The poll includes several choices which you can rank in preferred order, as well as an opportunity to include any other name of your choosing. 

Click Here to take the Online Poll.

Once we have gathered the feedback from the online forms and the poll, the Board of Management will decide whether they wish to introduce a resolution to change the church’s name at the next congregational meeting.  We could potentially vote on a single name or on multiple competing names.  Also, the Board feels that a change of this magnitude should require more than a simple majority vote, and so we would likely propose an additional resolution to require a super-majority to change our name.  This resolution would have to be voted on at the same meeting, before voting on the actual name change.the notes could be reviewed in one place.  We’ve received feedback from over 50 people to date. There were many different opinions. However, some broad themes have emerged which were shared by a large number of the participants.