Shall We Keep “Church” in Our Congregation’s Name?

Michael Lohman, a life-long Unitarian, moving here from Rockville, MD 3.5 years ago told the Board last fall that he was surprised to learn that UUCPA still had the word ‘church’ in its name as his former Rockville congregation changed their name from church to congregation over 5 years to avoid perceived barrier to potential new members visiting us. Our research on UU congregations uncovered that while 421 congregations included “church” in their names, 586 use a different name, such as, 246 with fellowship (which connotes a smaller congregation to many) and 155 with “congregation” and 31 with “community.”  If you are interested in learning more, you can read about another congregation’s name change process to replace church with congregation at

In our discussions with members from both services since Feb. 4th, many didn’t have strong feelings to change our name, but they could be comfortable to drop word “church” and replace it with another “C” word like “congregation” or “community” (thereby maintaining acronym UUCPA) if it would prevent barrier to attend. Some of these reasons to drop “church” in our name included:

  • Members raised Jewish find the word “church” very uncomfortable
  •  People with no previous religious affiliation avoid “church” because of religious right/evangelical connotation.
  • To many, church means Bible-based and conservative

Results of Discussion So Far

In over roughly 45 interviews about 35 preferred to remove word “church” from our name with 10 either not seeing need for change, initially, but after thinking it through, changed their position. Only 4 in the end wanted to stay with church. Currently, the majority of those with whom we engaged in discussion preferred to drop or replace church in our name. The majority preferred “congregation” with second largest group liking “community.”

Please Provide Your Input on March 18th

What do you think about potential change? You have chance to share your opinion with those of others at meeting on

Sunday, March 18, 2018

12:15 – 1:15 pm

Immediately after second service.

Gathering will take place in Room 6.

We need your input, so please attend.