Monday, February 22, 2010

What words do we use to describe our communtiy?

Last month I did an activity with my congregation, Bank Street Unitarian Chapel, about the words we use to describe ourselves. We had a general discussion and then each person voted (with three votes each) on the words or phrases they liked the best. This was concentrated on working out what we think about the words we (or other Unitarian communities) currently use, rather than trying to creatively come up with our own phrases (though one person couldn't resist). The results were pretty interesting:

Open hearts, open minds 8
Here let no one be a stranger 7
Founded 1672 6
Unitarian 5
Liberal religious community 4
(Comment: basically Christian as we were born into Christian community)

Many beliefs, one faith 4
Everyone welcome 3
Spirituality without conformity 2
We welcome all without discrimination 2
Reason, tolerance, liberty 1

And one person tried to sum it all up by writing:
Missing – “worship” “challenging”
Many beliefs, one faith – founded 1672
We welcome you to our open, challenging, worshipping community of Unitarians, founded 1672.
Spirituality without creeds

The following all got zero votes:
Bolton’s First Dissenting/Non-Conformist Chapel; peace and happiness; a religious home for the liberal spirit; General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, free and inquiring religion; Christians Together in Bolton Town Centre; Unitarianism is a free religious faith

What is most interesting is that all the phrases we currently use on the front page of our calendar, website and noticeboard all get zero votes.

If all those words currently mean nothing to us, why are we still using them?

What came through pretty strongly was that we didn't want to concentrate on our history any more than saying "founded 1672" and that welcoming all people was pretty central to us.


Anonymous NUFer said...

A valuable exercise - although I must say personally I'd steer clear of any place that used 'here let no one be a stranger' ; I know what it intends to mean but it always seems like a threat - 'don't come in if you don't want to buy !'
I'd go with 'open hearts, open minds'+ Unitarian ; no need to be ashamed of the name !

11:14 am  
Blogger Andrew Bethune said...

Our church calls itself 'The home of liberal religion in [name of town]since 1927' which I don't really like at all. I feel 'religion' makes us sound monolithic, intellectual and antiquated, while 'liberal' means politics to most people.

My previous church used 'The home of Unitarians in [name of town]'. A good format - and one which could be used for any town, district, or country. Unfortunately people don't really know what Unitarian means, so maybe we need to add something extra.

I do ike 'Spirituality without conformity' and 'Many beliefs, one faith'.

'Open hearts, open minds' has a nice ring to it - but if we use it make sure we do have open hearts.

What about 'a different sort of church'?

5:49 pm  

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