What’s the highest numbered congregation in the UUA?

A somewhat frivolous question follows.

I noticed a tweet saying the Fourth Unitarian Society of Westchester County, New York, has “become a Welcoming Congregation,” which is denominational language meaning a congregation has enrolled in a program of the same name showing its intention and welcome persons in sexual orientation minorities. It’s been around since 1989 and isn’t that controversial these days, so that’s not what I focused on. You see: I like church names.

Fourth? How did that one pass me. I had, of course, known of the Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York, in Manhattan. Then there’s the First, Second and Third churches in Chicago, plus the Seconds in Omaha and Worcester. And then there’s the well-known example of the defunct Twenty-eighth Congregational Society in Boston, founded as a platform for (and continued for a few decades as a memorial to) Theodore Parker.

So the question: is there any Unitarian Universalist Association-member church extant — perhaps existing legally thus, but not common known as — numbered higher than four?  Does anyone know of a church within living memory that went as high a five?

By Scott Wells

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


  1. As a Brit, I’ve always found this tradition rather quaint. There are no numbered churches in the UK. I don’t know if there are any in any other country. It always seemed to me a charming American custom.

    The most eccentric of course was the church I used to be a member of FIrst AND Second Church Boston.

  2. For a time I served as pastor to a Universalist church located in a rural Ohio farm town of about 500 residents. The legal name of the church was “First Universalist”, even though most locals called it simply “the Universalist Church”. I often found the “First” part of the name to be charmingly optimistic – as if some in that community back in 1859 envisioned that there might be more than just “the Universalist Church”, but a “First” that might also need to be differentiated from a future “Second”.

  3. In the coastal town of Warren, Maine, there is a Second Congregational Church. I once asked a parishioner, “Where’s the FIRST Congregational Church?” It turns out that First Congregational turned Presbyterian, then subsequently died out — about 175 years ago. Second Church, however, has never changed its name. I surmise that by now it doesn’t intend to.

  4. Sorry, Stephen, but I must point out for the record that “First and Second” went back to being just “First” about 5 years ago… – But if we decided to use the names of all the churches we’ve incorporated over the years we’d be First, Second, Seventh and Tenth Hollis Street South Congregational Church of the Savior in Boston! (I’ll bet “Savior” would raise some eyebrows in UU circles.)

  5. @Allogenes: Yes I do know it was changed. I was at the Annual Meeting and voted for the change back to First Church. If I remember correctly there were seven congregations that had one point merged with First.

  6. There is a merged Presbyterian parish in Montreal known as Knox Crescent Kensington and First (“KCK” for short).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.