A colorful graphic reads, "How shall we name ourselves?"

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic participation in our Forum on April 28,
How Shall We Name Ourselves?
In this eFlame, I want to summarize what we explored at that time—

the beginning of an Idea Fest—and invite you to further envisionings.

Why? Why would I raise the question of our name now? Several reasons. First, we are moving! And that means we will put up a new property sign. What shall it read? In this moment, perhaps we might envision a new name for ourselves.

Second, a fellowship was originally a lay-led congregation, a small starter congregation in the fellowship movement back in the 1950s, as part of spreading Unitarianism across the land. Well, we have not been lay-led for a very long time—decades, in fact. So, does the moniker “fellowship” still fit us?

Finally, as time has gone on, Unitarian Universalists have changed in their congregational naming conventions. Often, gone are names including “Fellowship,” “Church,” “Society” or “Congregation.” Instead, we see names like Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists or Coastal Valley Unitarian Universalists. 

What possibilities? The times, they are a-changin’; And so, thankfully, the UUA offers suggestions for “Things to Consider when Naming a Congregation” (see here and here). 

Of the 1046 congregations within the Unitarian Universalist Association, most are named for geographic locations (i.e., cities and towns, counties, and valleys). The UUA observes that “a few are named for broader regions—Piedmont, prairie, mountain ranges, foothills, seashores, deserts and forests.”

Only two are named for flowers—Columbine UU Church and Wildflower Church. Thirty are named for famous people. Twenty-two use All Souls as part of their name.

Other congregations boast names evoking more than geography, such as inclusiveness. Tapestry, a UU Congregation; Mosaic UU Congregation; Open Circle; People’s Church and Chalice UU Congregation are just a few examples.

Wellsprings Congregation in Suburban Philadelphia chose a memorable name that did not have Unitarian Universalist in the title. They refer to themselves as Wellsprings Congregation, A Unitarian Universalist Community of Faith.

And so, at the Sunday, April 28 Forum, I shared this context and invited members and friends to begin an Idea Fest, exploring how we might lean into this moment of transformation, this moment where we may embrace new ways of speaking our selves.

And so, our Idea Fest has begun. 

What’s next? Over the next few months, let’s meet, think, explore, share, and envision. Perhaps we will keep our name UU Fellowship of the Peninsula.  Or perhaps we will slowly discover a short-list of finalists and choose from our inspirations. At any rate, stay tuned! I will create an online environment where you can share your own thoughts, concerns, envisionings, ideas, and suggestions! We will meet and explore.

What say you? How shall we name ourselves? Look for upcoming opportunities to participate, and please feel free to email me. I always look forward to connecting with you.

In community, 

Bek Wheeler
President, UUFP
president@uufp.org