What Do We Call Ourselves (WDWCO) Task Force – Sept 18 Forum Summary

What Do We Call Ourselves Task Force (WDWCO)

Forum – September 18, 2022

28 in attendance at start of meeting (including 4 Task Force members and 3 advisers)


The question of what UCV will be called has been part of its evolving story since early days, and several changes have been made at different points of time for various reasons.  For Unitarian Universalists, exploring and naming our identities, individually and communally, is an essential part of our living faith tradition, and also a perennial challenge.  What this congregation chooses to call itself is emblematic not only of history and theology, but of who we aspire to be, who our vision and mission call us to become. A name reflects our identity as a spiritual, religious body, part of a larger religious community, and of our place and purpose in the world.  Choosing a name is about more than words or acronyms, it is a complex and meaningful affirmation of being in covenantal community with common purpose and vision. – Rev. Lara


Circle of Names  Flipchart Summary recorded by Advisor Rob Dainow

  • Never thrilled with the name Church. May be uncomfortable for wounded Christians. From a Jewish background  it is very awkward when telling Jewish friends that he attends a church.
  • Not concerned about the use of the name church, but ready to let it go.
  • I’m comfortable with the word church but would like a new word.
  • Would like to change the word church so that will not have to explain that it is not Christian.
  • Church misleads what we really are; need identifier as a spiritual centre.
  • Like spiritual centre idea. Church requires explanation that we are not a church!
  • Vancouver Unitarians is who we are and has been in use for many years. Spiritual Centre is a good name for the place. No real need to change the legal name (we can call ourselves what we want). Need another legal opinion about whether we need to include society in our legal name.
  • Okay with church; prefer congregation.
  • Receives unfavourable reaction when using the word church and it needs to be explained. We should seek input from younger people for a name that can last into their futures.
  • Happy with anything we all agree to. Like congregation, also spiritual centre.
  • Need to come up with our own collective name.
  • One of the problems with the word church is that it is a convenient and easy way to name the place where we meet, and we have not yet found a good alternative.
  • Like the name church. Will have to be convinced to change it. Prefer not to challenge our religious charitable tax exemption (and legal name change could trigger that).
  • No big problem personally with church, but we are perceived as Christian by prospective refugees, which creates problems, so prefer to change the word church.
  • Church is always a barrier with friends and family. Want a new name for the location/place.
  • Use fellowship as a great catch-all for what this group is.
  • Prefer to keep Unitarian Church of Vancouver but not a priority. Notes that Unitarianism is also associated with Christianity (Google Unitarianism to find out).  Include Universalist in our name to be more non-Christian.
  • I’m uncomfortable with church and avoid it whenever possible. Knows 2 people who will not come because of the word church in our name. Prefer a name for who we are and not so concerned with the place. Also think we need another legal opinion on the inclusion or not of society.
  • “I like the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.”
  • Never felt at home with church as part of our name. Will be upset if we keep church in any new name.
  • Have a problem with the name church. Prefer collective.
  • Okay to change because of other’s concerns. Need a second legal opinion about name requirements.
  • UCV is a “church for non-believers”.  Don’t see any need for including society in our legal name. Wants to include Universalist in any new name. No need to change our name if we are going to keep church as part of it.
  • In favour of dropping church because this is important to a significant number of people. Like congregation, also community and Unitarian Universalists of Vancouver.
  • Never liked church in our name –  it means a Christian community – a place of worship that does not fit for me as a Jew. Jewish friends think I have converted to Christianity when I say I go to the Unitarian church!  All for changing to a name that does not include church but hope to keep UCV abbreviation. Unitarian Centre of Vancouver is not good because it does not identify us as a religious organization, but Unitarian Congregation of Vancouver does. This was in fact our name some time in our past.

Also addressed briefly:

  • Expenses should a name change be voted in:  $2375 as estimated by Advisor Keith Wilkinson.
  • Criteria for names of  non-profits that maintain charitable status – inclusion of Church or Society.
  • Percentage of votes to maintain or change our name:  referred on to the Board.
  • Voting procedures to maximize as many members as possible and ranked ballots. John Smith.

Issues that surfaced:

  • What name can we all identify with that represents us more accurately to our community and particularly to those who would want to be part of who we are and what we do.
  • The question surfaced concerning whether we should consider adding Universalist to Unitarian, as in Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver or added to a new name should we vote for that. Some of us identify as UU’s and others don’t. During discussion some said that they wanted to have more information about the differing beliefs about being UU or U.  We look to our Ministry for this.
  • The mandate for the WDWCO Task Force is to facilitate convergence for a name we can all live with.  While some members say that we are a Church (end of story), others say that the word Church misrepresents to members, non-members and potential members who we are and what we believe.
  • Our current thinking is to have a ranked ballot of popular names – which ones  is still being researched. Discussion will continue at the October 16 forum.  Our final vote will be between the most popular alternate name from the ranked ballot and the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.
  • Scepticism was expressed about the BC Societies Act naming requirements for charitable status to include either ‘Church’ or ‘Society’.  We hope to be able to answer this for the next Forum on October 16.
  • While what we call ourselves is not a big deal for some, others do not want to lose ‘Church’ and others do want to lose ‘Church.’  We will be guided by our Covenant of Healthy Relations to struggle with the symbolism  of our identity.


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