Commuting zones: strawberry runners

So, if you think the best option for developing an unreached area is to plant an initially-subordinate extension from a large, existing congregation, you will want some place that’s

  • got its own commerical (for space rental) and community focus
  • yet is close enough for church staff and volunteers to support it, but
  • far enough away that saying “come to us” expects a very high level of commitment

Using (now 14+ year old) commuting zone data, to obvious place to center new activity is south and north of Charlotte, North Carolina. (New data, using the successor to the commuting zone, is due out next month.)

Specifically, York County, South Carolina. With an estimated population af 234,635 in 2012, the county serves as a bedroom community to Charlotte. It has been growing fast: up from 85,216 in 1970. At 27 miles, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte is nearest congregation York County’s largest city, Rock Hill. (All milages from city hall.)

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I was going to refer back to my micropolitan survey that suggested Salisbury and Lexington, North Carolina were ideal places to launch a new church, using a similar analysis, but lo and behold, the Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church, Charlotte has since opened a branch “gathering” (their term) in Salisbury.

So I feel vindicated. York County, anyone?

By Scott Wells

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

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