Church names

Back last year when I was sure I would be gathering a church, I posted about naming it. A good name is important, and A. at Call and Reponse has been thinking about it again.

So, to reprise the idea, what church names would you like, and which would you think spell disaster?

Another challenge.

What would you do with (or do without) with denominational monikers? (Chopping to “Unitarian” alone is unacceptable here.) Parenthesize them off the coast of the main name? Live without? Include the mouthful with aplomb?

(Looking again, the process tool A. found at Plain and Simple Church Promotion are quite good, especially around the overused Community Church labeling.) [ link]

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I’m inclined (for theological and practical reasons) to go with a plain name, or do what the Roman Catholics do, and put the denomination “off coast”. For example, when I was also sure I would be attempting a church plant, I was strongly committed to the names “Pilgrimage Church” or “Fellowship of St. Luke, UUA”.

    The full denominational name is too long, and America is increasingly too post-denominational.

  2. I tell you choosing church nmes is like choosing names for a kid. Before Ruth was born the Mrs. and I had two very long lists, she always had very reasonabe names, only a few that we had any connection to, you know like a family name or the name of a good friend. Where I had great names often with a lot of connection, can you believe that there were 3 women in my family with the first name of Deliverence!

    We realized that names come from 3 places, family, friends or some are just chosen for the coolness factor. I think naming a church is the same. you can have the family name (UU church of Harlem), a friend’s name (St. Larry of the 3 stooges) or a cool one (the little brown church.) You also need to be careful not give your child a name that may mean a lot to you but seem old fashioned (Bertha) offensive (Adolf) too regular or too stuck in a particular time (Stephanie / Tyler) just crazy (Apple/ Rainbow) or libal to get your kid beat up (Horatio.)

    It’s the same with churches.

  3. Yes, I’d go with a post-denominational name if I were church planting, at least if the community that was gathering thought of themselves as attempting to be a church rather than a franchise of a denomination or sect. The old “Church of All Souls” moniker is the best one Unitarians or Universalists have ever come up with, in my view, although I like “Epiphany Church,” too.

    Mainstream Unitarian Universalists have a harder task, since often they want the name to distinguish the congregation from “a church” as much as anything else, and some variation on the denominational name often serves to say “Not Christian.” It would be an interesting exercise to identify a set of names that would suggest “liberal religious congregation” to the public at large without tossing ten syllables of denominational identity at them.

  4. I’m an “All Souls” fan, too.

    My home congregation has struggled in the past against district pressure to keep fellowship in its name. (“You’ll never grow as long as you don’t call yourself a church.”) We thrive and our fellowship values (strong lay leadership, widespread involvement, a relationship-based approach to decision making) are part of what makes us distinctive and successful. So, I’m in favor of Fellowship.

    Did you ever hear the Carter family sing, “Oh, come, come, come, come, come to the church in the w i l dwood…?” I’ve often thought about worshiping there.

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