In orbit

I mentioned that there are a number of Unitarian Universalist congregations that are not members of the Unitarian Universalist Association but neither are they

  1. declared to be “emerging” with the goal of joining the UUA,
  2. really dormant or inactive; in essence a “submerged congregation,”
  3. independent, which includes some former members of the Universalist Church of America,
  4. “half-federated” with a historic Unitarian or Universalist partner, but only affiliated with another denomination or none, or
  5. a member of the American Unitarian Conference or (theoretically) some other group.

What’s left is, in essence, district-sanctioned revivals of the Fellowship Movement. But even this might not be quite right, as it isn’t clear if these congregations “in orbit” are simply “pre-emerging.” I also wonder if there’s a financial incentive to keep a few small congregations “off the books” for purposes of Annual Program Fund participation yields. The fact is that we don’t know: we don’t even know who or what these congregations are, much less what policies cover them in the districts or any statistics. Thank God a few have Web sites. (I’ll add them in as time permits.)

Since they seem to be a district-level phenomenon (or that some districts account for them better than others) that’s how they’re listed.

Heartland District

Mountain Desert District

  • Gunnison, Colorado: Never Sink Fellowship

Northeast District

  • Eastport, Maine: Congregational Society (Unitarian)
  • Greene, Maine: First Universalist Church of Greene
  • Hiram, Maine: First Universalist Society
  • Orono, Maine: Orono Church of Universal Fellowship
  • Rumford, Maine: emerging congregation?
  • Saint John, New Brunswick: Unitarian Universalist Church

Prairie Star District

  • Okoboji, Iowa: Iowa Lakes UU Fellowship
  • Storm Lake, Iowa: UUs of Storm Lake
  • Hutchinson, Kansas: Hutchinson Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship
  • Buffalo, Minnesota: Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: Lighthouse Sanctuary
  • St. Cloud, Minnesota: Spirit of Life Church
  • St. Paul, Minnesota: Groveland UU Fellowship
  • Osceola, Missouri: UUs of Osceola
  • Warrensburg, Missouri: UUs of Warrensburg
  • Dickenson, North Dakota: Ocean of Grass UU Fellowship

Pacific Central District

  • Morgan Hill, CA: South Valley Unitarian Fellowship

Pacific Southwest District

By Scott Wells

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


  1. Scott – I thought the Rumford church was an old Universalist church that is part of the District (as Maine Conference successor), but did not assent to membership in the UUA. Like the Universalist Church of Greene, ME or the Church of Universal Fellowship in Orono, ME.

  2. The UU Church in St. John, NB, is a member congregation of the Canadian Unitarian Council, and should not be considered part of the Northeast District (by act of the UUA Board, which removed Canadian congregations from UUA Districts). If they’re not listed as a UUA member congregation, it means they were one of the CUC member congregations that chose to end their affiliation with the UUA when the two organizations split.

    in peace,

  3. Hey Scott,

    I preached once in Rumford. The old Universalist church closed some time ago and this is a small “fellowship” style organization that meets at various locations in Rumford or nearby Mexico. They do, I believe, still own the sign from the old Universalist building but little else. Good folks.

    I used to attend the Orono church when I was at the University there. It has historic ties to the Universalists and the Congregationalists, but decided to become non-denominational when their predecessors merged. They still give to both the UCC and the UUA, however, and the ministers attend an occasional meeting. Nice folks. Their giving may possibly be only on the local level.

    All I can say about Greene is that is is a really cute building and their minister (possibly now former) was/is a retired Methodist as a really nice guy…

  4. Eastport, Maine, is listed on the UUA Web site in their find-a-congregation site, listed with 6 members, church ID 3833.

    Hiram, Maine, is also listed, church ID 3911, with 5 members.

    Page last updated December 4, 2007.

  5. I’m from the Heartland District and can comment on the New Hudson congregation. They are a split off of a nearby congregation- long complicated story. They are in the process of affiliating but need to first be in right relationship with nearby churches to become part of the UUA and district. The DE and others are working with them on that process. So emerging in the sense that there are now 2 congregations where there was 1, but not like a church planting in a brand new area because the first church was overcrowded. Hopefully all will come out right in the end. My understanding is that this had to do with the minister’s status (interim or acting or consulting) and rules about whether you can call that minister or not.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.