What do we call ourselves – summary of June 2022 survey

Introduction

A paper copy of the WDWCO survey was handed out at the Sunday services of June 19 and 26. After June 26, the survey went online with the submission deadline of 06 July 2022. 122 people responded – 81 by paper, and 41 online. 103 were members, 16 were friends, and 3 were visitors.

 

SYNOPSIS OF THE RESULTS:

All Respondents (n = 122)
Very Positive Moderately Positive Neutral Moderately Negative Very Negative No Answer
Keep Current Name 20% 17% 15% 30% 16% 2%
If I Have My choice of a name 53% 23% 14% 4% 6% 0%
Keep Acronym UCV 22% 39% 22% 7% 8% 2%
Unitarian Campus of Van. 5% 7% 9% 30% 41% 7%
Unitarian Centre of Van. 21% 25% 11% 18% 16% 8%
Unitarian Community of Van. 37% 22% 15% 8% 15% 3%
Unitarian Congregation of Van. 24% 29% 17% 16% 10% 5%
Vancouver Unitarians 39% 25% 18% 7% 7% 4%

*Positive means willing, satisfied, important. *Negative means unwilling, dissatisfied, unimportant

 

 

COMMENTS

While some wish to retain “Church” and others don’t, many expressed a willingness for a name change if it is in the best interests of our future viability.

 

Love for our spiritual community:

Steven Epperson’s very clear statement at the New U in a Day session in November 2010 that Unitarians are people who form spiritual communities with ”no dogma and no hierarchy” made me want to join UCV, and I signed the membership book at the end of the session that day.

We need younger members – what would connect with this group?  I realize my choice may not be chosen.  But I hope that our wonderful group will remain for 100 more years.

I am new to this community and love the work that is being done here.  I do feel slightly uncomfortable saying “church” so I do not use it when describing where I am on Sundays. Perhaps a name change would entice other younger and possibly those who are racialized or minorities to join.

 

Love for the WDWCO Task Force:

Thank you for undertaking this survey. I hope you get a lot of responses and I look forward to seeing the results.

 Many thanks to you all – Eva, Louise, Sheila, Carrie, and John – for doing this important work.

 Good work.  Carry on.

 Thank you! I hope enough people complete this survey in time.

 I am very grateful for this opportunity.  Many thanks to the careful wording of this request.

 Excellent survey!

Thank you for asking and for your work!

No love from one survey participant – This survey is manipulative because it assumes name change is happening and hence is worthless.

 

Love for Church as our name:

 We’re a church.  It’s a flexible word.  It’s a social contract.  It feels weaselly to drop it; like we’re happy to enjoy all the privileges churches have without having to carry the baggage.  Will a more neutral term attract newcomers?  Maybe.  Will it disproportionally attract people who want to escape the work of examining privilege and dismantling systems of oppression by congratulating ourselves that “we’re not like THOSE guys” and rolling gaily on?  Maybe.

 The word ‘church’ helps identify us to others.  What’s more, it translates into French easily.

I am just fine with Unitarian Church of Vancouver. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

 It’s extremely important to me that spirituality remain at the forefront of our name and activities.  Social action, arts, etc., are integral but not central. “Church” says spiritual/religion to me.  The other names do not.

 If we cease to call ourselves a church, are we still self-identifying as a religion?

 The only “C” word that makes sense to me is “Church.”  The other options all have different meanings to different people.  Either keep Church or don’t, but don’t try to make something fit that doesn’t.

 I’m not unsatisfied with the word “church” being used but I do find myself explaining that we are non-denominational, not “Christian Church” but welcome diverse orientations to faith and belief systems.

 

Love for a change to our name:

Do not like Church.

I’m strongly in favour of changing the name to something I feel is more appropriate for today.  Mostly I want the word ‘church’ gone.

I am in favour of losing “church” and very open to whatever people are comfortable with.

Please think outside the box.  There are too many long-time members who don’t want to let go of the church.  It alienates and confuses so many people.  if you want to be relevant to newer generations, to survive (I don’t see it ever thriving), you need to move away from “church.

The word “church” could be a barrier for indigenous community.

I think it is important to not use the word “church” – mostly because there are a number of members, I’ve spoken with who really cannot abide this word.

I strongly support a change from “church” – it denotes a Christian denomination which we are not.  Also, some people may have had negative experiences with Christian churches so this word may not be welcoming/appropriate for them.

The only proposed “C” word to replace Church that denotes a religious community  and one that is not necessarily Christian is Congregation (“a group of people regularly attending a particular place of worship”), so I vote in favour of this new version of UCV.

Please register as a concern that the current legal name almost put me off joining UCV.  It most likely has put off many potential members from even visiting UCV.

I have a negative association with church type words such as church, congregation, worship, praise…I feel a visceral sense of discomfort. I know that if I do, so do many others, thus it is a barrier not a draw.  How can we do better?

If UCV changes to any of the above suggestions I will seriously consider changing my status from ‘friend’ to ‘member.’

 

Name preferences:

VERY WILLING to change our legal name to a name I agree with and I am VERY UNWILLING to change it to a name I object to.

Why not include Universalist in the name?  Unitarian Universalists of Vancouver. 

If we are going to change our name, it should be updated to reflect the theology (UU).  A search for “Unitarian” finds a very different  definition than Unitarian Universalists.  People should know who we are by our name. Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver or Unitarian Universalists of Vancouver. 

The other proposed “C” words – Campus, Community, and Centre – can refer to many types of non-religious communities and so will not identify us as a religious/faith community.  This is why they are not acceptable choices to me (and the word Unitarian does not to many people denote a religious community because they do not know that Unitarian refers to a distinct religion with its own principles and practices.)

Congregation has spiritual, democratic, and community connotations.

My personal favourite is Unitarian Congregation of Vancouver.  Congregation is a word used by both Christian and non-Christian groups.

Community is a word widely used, understood and appreciated.  It is suggestive of “people together,” an entity with “things in common.”  Congregation is less well appreciated and understood. What it implies is anything but clear.  It has references to conventional religious traditions that are not who we are.

I hate Vancouver Unitarians!  It’s not a huge deal and I don’t want to outweigh, the many voices who like it, but to me it doesn’t say the right thing to the wider world.  Religious communities have a sense of gravitas, and that name doesn’t do that at all. To me it makes us sound like a club rather than a religious institution, which I think sends the wrong message to people in the community about what we’re about.

I think “campus” is misleading.

If we are called Van Unitarians, what do we call the place where we gather for a service? I don’t feel comfortable with Sanctuary.

I think it’s important to include a reference to our physical space in our name.  How to answer questions such as “Where will the memorial service be held?”  The buildings are a strong part of our identity and should be reflected in the name.  I think “Centre” accomplishes that.

Like Vancouver Unitarians re the group but less easy re the place.

“Temple” is a religion specific term denoting a space of sacred organizing and community ritual or practice.  It’s more specific to what happens here than the other options presented.  Has it been discussed?  Also, should we lose ”Vancouver” in favour of something decolonizing?

My only concern in changing the name is the cost of changing out any signage, stationary, concrete, placards, etc.  however, if changing the name will assist in broadening and diversifying the congregation, it will be worth the incremental cost.  It should be a well-supported new name, though. It would be ironic to me if the change drove more people away than it attracted, particularly if the diversity of the congregation were not improved. 

It’s funny, fundamentalist Xtians sects are also dropping the word “church” because it’s too pagan and/or insufficiently biblical?  That’s why you see so much “Assembly of Christ” and ”Congregation of Christ” when you’re driving through the hinterlands.  Whee!

Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].


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