I was dropped today from the UUMA-Chat mailing list, being removed because I’m not a member of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association. I rarely read it — the email went directly to a folder — and never commented. Mailing lists are a bit, um, old-fashioned and the content of the list specialized in asking for suggestion and resources. Liturgy, church admin and the like. Important, but not riveting. Hardly worth joining an organization for (seeing as I didn’t use the UUMA’s other services either) and certainly not worth hundreds of dollars in dues.
The UUMA shows every sign of contracting and this exclusion, while it can be formally justified, fails the sniff test. This dismission was announced; I’m not alone. How does it help to make a cost-free service (to the UUMA; the UUA runs it) have fewer members, when there is the added value of keeping loosely connected people attracted? Put another way, the most likely new members of the UUMA are the very people (like me) who have been dismissed from the list. You’d think UUMA could hold out membership as an upsell — the “freemium” model of membership being so well established now that it hardly needs explanation — but no. As a friend puts it, it’s their loss, not mine. True.
This action, far from wanting me to join, makes me glad I haven’t. Calls to “keep covenant” (but serve the needs of only some ministers) or to “ensure quality” (but not guarantee it, or effectively punish misconducting ministers) ring false. Clannishness, defensiveness, mismanagement, or spite (or some or all of these) seem more likely reasons to add this tactic — why now, after all these years? — to a list of overpromising and underperforming.
Some may ask, if I don’t participate, how can I expect thing to change? Well, to be plain, I don’t expect improvement. And singletons and small groups of people often do better to try something different.