Thoughts about the Kandahar fellowship

The UUWorld news about a Unitarian Universalist fellowship on the United States Air Force base in Kandahar in Afghanistan brought up two unrelated thoughts.

The first is bittersweet. New congregation development has ground as low as it ever has. Leave it to this “situational congregation” (I don’t get a sense that it’s intended to last past the deployment of US troops) to dredge up a much reviled mode of organization: the 10-member fellowship. (The branch church is another active model, but for another time.)

The second is more sensitive. The relative boom in Unitarian Universalist military chaplains doesn’t surprise me: military personnel and their families — and I grew up in a military family — need pastoral care; settlements are few; and there are surely affirming challenges and perks that the chaplaincy has that parish or other ministries don’t have. But it seems to me that Unitarian Univeraslists have followed the cultural rising tide with respect to the military, and with hardly a peep of introspection. More fodder to consider if Unitarian Universalism closely follows culture rather than speaking to it.

By Scott Wells

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


  1. With respect to the comment about the Kandahar Fellowship, I suspect we could learn from the Buddhists – everything is temporary. It is probably very unrealistic to expect that the Fellowship would continue after the troops leave. Thanks to the Chaplains for reaching out, providing some comfort, and an alternative faith for the few that may want and need it.

  2. Hey Scott – Maybe you didn’t intend this, but I find your comments about our congregation condescending and worthlessly vague. There are five UU chaplains in the entire US Army. That’s a boom?

    And are you implying that UUs should not be chaplains, or if they are they’re doing because they couldn’t get a gig somewhere else?

    Clarify please.

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