The Unitarian Universalist Association Board meets, starting this Thursday (tomorrow). Two congregations have applied for membership.
- Open Door Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Owensboro, Kentucky. It was organized in 2013 with nine members and applied for membership with 36 members about a month ago.
- St. Croix Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Saint Croix Falls, Wisconsin. It was organized in 2012 with sixteen members and applied for membership with 41 members about a month ago.
This is better news than the January Board meeting. But I can’t help that observe that these candidate members:
- It takes about three years to go from launch (not inception) to membership.
- That new members are rarely much larger that the thirty-member minimum.
- Both of the candidates are named “fellowship,” a term that for many years out of favor.
Also, the emerging Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ashtabula County, (archived site) Ashtabula, Ohio, is no more.
Also, Open Door Fellowship in Owensboro is the result of a departure of a group of members from the Unitarian Congregation of Owensboro. Resulting in 2 small congregations in the same small city. This might not automatically be bad, if the 2 congregations can differentiate themselves from one another, and be 2 distinct expressions of the same faith. A bit like having an Anglo-Catholic Episcopal congregation, and a Low Church Episcopal congregation in the same small city.
Get ready for start of “recognized communities” coming in such as ours; no per member dues but more like what we paid in uucf as independent affiliates except we under new bylaws change would have representation and eligibility for this or that; still in works but should be started soon maybe by this GA; emerging lol since 2003 here
I am cautiously optimistic about the future of Fellowships in the Association – at least for the next few years. This past year my cluster, (North Texas) grew by 2%, 150% of which came from the cluster’s fellowships, all of which increased this past year. The larger congregations either marked time, or in a couple cases where they were dealing with interim ministers – lost about 5% of their membership.
I think that the combination of more good UU sermons available online, the presence of seminary students studying “remotely” and ministers willing to engage in part-time contract ministries has made it easier to grow a small UU congregation that anytime in the last generation.
Would be very interested to see if this pattern is being experienced outside of my area…
While David’s comments do encourage me, I worry about an issue related to his comments about seminary students and bi-vocational ministers. Will the potential for growth come at a cost to the servants of the community? Are we trying to get pastoral leadership on the cheap, and thus consigning clergy to forms of poverty? I did bi-vocational work for almost 15-years, and the sad truth is that 2 part-time jobs did not equal the compensation from a single full-time job.