I try — I really do try — to put the best face on my affiliation with the general fellowship in the Unitarian Universalist Association. At heart, I fear that whatever I do will come to naught and I will leave for some other fellowship, probably the United Church of Christ, whatever its warts.
But what would be the tipping point?
Not “getting” a church? No, for a lot of ministers don’t “get” churches, and the UCC in this area is hardly Eden.
The politics? No, not hardly. I’m a good lefty, and appreciate what UUs do institutionally, even if the methods leave me cold.
Theological unity? No, because for all our warts I’m free to believe what I will, and the “you can’t be a UU and believe that crowd” is well under control. (Who did they think they were?!) What that leaves to believe (who do we think we are?!) is another matter.
No, I think the breaking point will come if and when I plant a church. The history of planting Christian churches in the UUA, and the history of Christian churches in the UUA staying Christian is pretty poor. Some of that is due to the way churches were imagined or led. Some if it has to do with the “niceness” and timidity that Christian Unitarians and Universalists held their faith; it didn’t keep its boundaries very well.
I’m worried that I will envision a church that will apply for membership in the UUA and get rejected — perhaps because its necessary form would seem un-UU — and that the rejection will unsettle or detroy what I tried to build. (I can’t imagine the UUA would be putting in any money.)
I could explicate, but it comes down to this: acceptance in theory has to be matched with acceptance in fact. Because I’m unsure how I’d be received in fact, I’m not quite sure I’m really accepted in theory. And I won’t stay for that.
Now, take that writ-large. Who wants to offer a bold direction in church growth — say, a really sexy, sexy urban Pagan residential community — only to have their efforts undercut because it isn’t “UU enough.” I have to think that this is part of what diminishes entrepreneurial efforts and makes new churches rarer and rarer.