Revisiting “Rekindling the Mainline: New Life Through New Churches” (and UUA policy)

This four-year-old comment (thanks, Derek) led me to revisit Stephen C. Compton’s 2003 Rekindling the Mainline: New Life Through New Churches (link for reference) to see what’s still applicable and what’s not. My (used) copy arrived today.

In the meantime, be sure to see my widget in the sidebar, which counts up the number of days since the last member congregation was added to the UUA. Alas, none are scheduled to join at the next UUA Board meeting, but Unitarian Universalist minister and blogger Dawn Cooley points out a report (the report, in PDF) (thanks to her) to the UUA Board that recommends lowering the required quantum of thirty charter members for admission. Fascinating. I need to give it a close read — lots of references back to the UUA bylaws — and will report on that soon.

By Scott Wells

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


  1. On Thursday of this past week (4/10/14) I sat as an observer at the first day of the UUA Board’s April meeting. There was some discussion of this very point: should a mere number (30 or whatever you like) be the determinant of a “real” congregation, eligible for admission or should it be some dimension of practice, by way of manifesting UU values, that should be the determinant? Also, what about “pulling the plug” on congregations that exist only on paper or as a small group spending an old endowment in the name of church? The Board minutes, when available, should reflect some of that. By way of national staff input, I believe this falls under the purview of Terasa Cooley, Officer for Program and Strategy.

  2. I read the “encourage to disband” part of the report twice and it gave me pause. I couldn’t help but think of all those Universalist churches that were so “encouraged” in past decades, thereby enriching the coffers.

    The staff can but try, but I imagine that’ll stir up more hard feelings and resentments — I’m not so sanguine about restart options — than it’s worth. I bet there’ll be one or two then it turns to a dead letter.

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