Possible next steps after the UUA staff cuts

While it is pretty clear where I stand on some matters related to Unitarian Universalist Association staffing, it’s not to say I’d be happy to leave things as they were had there been no financial crisis.

In a word, I think we suffer from over-consolidation. Apart from the theological schools and camps, it’s hard to find Unitarian Universalist programs that aren’t hard-wired into 25 Beacon Street. I suppose the Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Assocation might count, but I’ve never seen where there was a case when the organized ministerial college might openly fight the UUA leadership for its members’ benefit. (That’s one reason I resigned ages ago; that, and their programs offered me nothing.) Given that there is no other real Unitarian or Universalist denomination in the United States, and that we’re something of a single species in its own genus, there’s also no much opportunity to get resources from “next door”.

So I’ll say it again: much of the value imputed to the Unitarian Universalist Association is its mere existence, rather than the services it offers. And I’m not a fan of monopolies, especially psychological ones.

Despite the doleful demise of the UUA Washington Office, I agree with others in my last post that the bigger problem is the cessation of new church starts. Though, seeing how few new congregations have joined the UUA (and how many “emerging” congregations never get born) in recent years, I wonder if it’s really that much of a change of policy. And that’s as good as denying our future. No earthly thing last forever and some churches must be born just to replace those that die, and new churches must be born to gather people who live in growing areas.

So even if $5 million or $10 million showed up on Beacon Hill tomorrow, I’m not sure it would stir up an action to really build on our future.

And if I had $5 or $10 million to revive Unitarian Universalism’s flagging fortunes, I’d certainly push it into a new organization — a church-birthing institute, say — with its own leadership with a modern ethos and leaner operation. That, or see a change of course from the Morales administration and UUA Board of Trustees.

By Scott Wells

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


  1. Re: So even if $5 million or $10 million showed up on Beacon Hill tomorrow, I’m not sure it would stir up an action to really build on our future.

    You’re 100% right.

    And I don’t think the strategy I see for growth is much of a starter…

  2. What we almost need is what was once termed a “domestic missionary society/foundation”. Give it some funds, an independent board of trustees, a few field staff members, and a granting program… And watch it fly.

    Would the Veatch Fund even dare to seed-fund such an entity?

  3. I am writing from the comfort of my rumpus room here in Melbourne Australia .I first came across your websites in the late 1990’s,as i am a universalist worshipping in a liberal evangelical church , This is because the local Aussie UU’s i find to be spiritually dry and more interested in politics but not also the soul. The church here in Melbourne seems to me to be also a secular form of Calvinism- they’re the elect.
    I noted on another of your blogs the Uniting Church of Australia’s distinction on membership,adherents etc. This is one church here in Oz that is dying-their demographic is 65 plus,and if it was honest enough it would pull out of the World Assembly of Reformed churches and join ICUU-as it has been a liberal denomination for donkey’s years. However it seems that that just as the UCA ,has generational problems ,the UUA is in the doldrums-regarding the financial. Would you not be prepared to take the leading of God and call for renewal or is it too late after nearly 50 years and time for the universalists to come out of the UUA!?

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