I found a church in Newport Pagnell

Excuse the pun and, urm, backseat driving. This is a pointed question to the British Unitarians out there.

Why are there no Unitarian churches in Milton Keynes, a postwar “new town” with more than 200,000 residents? Not even one. And, given the usual caveats about growth, it’s set to double in population in the next twenty years, in part by growing the direction of the legally distinct but adjacent town of Newport Pagnell.

Now, except to change trains, I’ve never been in Milton Keynes, and all I know of Newport Pagnell is that (1) it’s next to the M1, (2) it has an offramp service center/road services/rest stop and (3) it’s mentioned in a Smiths song. But it’s 13 miles from the church in Northampton, and that’s the nearest one.

Is it really so strange for such a large residential area be targeted for a new church?

By Scott Wells

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


  1. Because church-planting has not been on the agenda for 100 years. And before that it was mainly mother-daughter models of church plants. The only exception I can think of is Cambridge, which started in 1904, and was no where near any other churches. I don’t know the story of how it got started.

    Only small Fellowships have been started in the last 70 years.

    However London and South East District do have the money and the leadership to think about these things. So it may be possible soon.

  2. Yes, as Stephen says, it’s not a priority…

    You have to understand Scott that it’s rather sad over on this side of the pond. With an average membership per congregation of 15-20 people [no, really – not a typo] there is not a lot of energy or money to start new congregations. There is also not a pool of brilliant, charismatic, entrepreneurial ministers to help make that happen. [If you reading this are such a minister and you happen to be independently wealthy, then come on over! This is a fertile mission field!]

    What money there is in the British Unitarian movement tends to get spent on keeping the tiny congregations alive. The logic of spending like that is not necessarily sound, but it is hard to argue against its strong emotional appeal…

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