I am serving on a committee that is proposing to change the name of our congregation from a long, obscure and unwieldy one that our 18 founders chose in 1953, to one that more accurately and concisely communicates to the world at large who the 250 of us are today.
We want newcomers to find us more easily and understand who we are more readily because our growth has stagnated, and like all the other mainline Protestant denominations, we need new YOUNGER members.
This seems obvious to those of us on the name change team. And the majority of the congregation agrees. But when it comes up for a vote we don’t want to be blind-sided by the nay-sayers, so we’ve held a bunch of discussion sessions over the past couple of months to get everyone involved. We had another discussion session this noon.
Oh. My. God. This is why I hate my fellow Unitarians. We can be as hidebound in our thinking as any fundamentalist group… but our fundamentalism is Individualism. Me, mine, my way. Open-minded as long as you agree with me.
Trying to get some folks to see that this change would be for the common good of our congregation is like trying to mollify spoiled brats. “I LIKE our name. I don’t CARE if newcomers don’t get it. I don’t care if we get any new members; my needs are being met.”
We actually had a couple of people say that if we changed our “sacred” name, they were LEAVING! As if a different name would make it a different congregation.
The truth is the founders pulled the name out of their butts back then, and the only founder that is still with us says she has always hated the name. So much for sacred.
I understand that change is hard for many people. But dang it! We are not the same congregation we were back in 1953; it’s not the same cultural and religious environment, and the spiritual needs of our community are expressing themselves in new ways. We adapt or die.
We must not be so attached to the past that we can’t move.
UPDATE – Dec 7, 2008: We DID it! After a year-long process the new name passed with 88% of the vote!