108 more Unitarian Universalists, and how (?)

Sure, new large and programatic church starts are sexy, but I suspect real (and affordable) numerical growth will come from the small- and medium-sized members of the UUA.

Been crunching numbers, and now that 255 congregations have been certified, I can report again.

Bad news: of those 255, there is a net gain of 805, including the Church of the Larger Fellowship’s new 310. That’s about two new members per congregation, if averaged, and that’s not so good.

But four small- and medium- sized church have bucked this trend. Who are they? Read on . . . .

I looked at the congregations that grew by more than 20% in the last year, and which reported last year, and so didn’t hide two years’ growth in one report. Of course, it is easier for a very, very small church to grow by 20% or more. (The reverse is true; the biggest percentile losers are also very, very small.) I’ve lain the tinest aside as statistical flukes.

Even so, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of New Bern, North Carolina — so far — has grown the most, going form 33 to 46 members, an increase of 39.4%

Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, Kansas is noteworthy for going from 112 to 150 members; a 33.9% increase. So, too are . . .

Humbolt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Bayside, California (from 146 to 189; an increase of 29.5%) and Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, Kansas, going from 115 ro 139, an increase of 20.1%

(The first and last have ministers and the middle two don’t, in case you harbor a strong opinion one way or another.)

So where’s the lesson here? My little elves, you could be a great help and help me figure out why these churches grew, and so many didn’t.


  1. Is there something about Kansas? The church that I serve (Shawnee Mission UU Church in Overland Park, KS) will be reporting close to the deadline, and it looks like we will be +40 members. Three out of the seven UU churches in Kansas growing at least 20%.

  2. Three years ago the Lawrence Fellowship began offering a Spiritual Celebration service before the weekly more secular service. I believe it has attracted new members more than anything else. It got me back there after about 15 years of non-attendence at the fellowship I grew up in.

    Found you while doing history on Lawrence and Unitarianism for the September 19 Spiritual Celebration service. :)

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