Two comments on UUA certification numbers

RevThom asked this in the comments of the last post,

Hi Scott,
I feel like I’m walking in the footsteps of giants.

I have a methodological question. Why do you discount new churches? It would seem that if we were growing by starting more churches, that is real growth.

My other methodological question: are you counting Canadian churches or not? I decided I would include only our congregations from the 50 states, DC, and San Juan.

Well, I am six-foot-four, but my bought-at-GA size 12 Doc Marten’s are (literally) pretty narrow: I’m sure you stand on your own. To your questions.

  1. I don’t count new churches in the percentage changes because I’m looking at continuity of membership numbers. I still hope I have my workup of 2003 numbers, and then I’ll have three years to review. I count new congregations apart. Three, so far, with 108 members.
  2. I do count Canadian congregations — indeed, the overseas ones, too — and only exclude them when making percentage of populations figures. I wish the ambiguous “includes non-UUs” memo associated with the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippies was clearer. If the UUCP isn’t “federated” then how could a member not be a UU, if only for census purposes?

And my minister, Adam, asked

Scott, what do you mean about Fall River? Are you saying that when Eliot Church registers that it will be marked as being a non-paying baddie (Sp?)? Just curious, also, what are your two minds on this? If this is the case my mind is also cloven in twain (sp again?)…

The Unitarian Society of Fall River, Mass., and now All Souls UU, Bellville, Ohio, is marked “none” and the legend at the top of the page notes:

All are certified to send voting delegates to General Assembly 2005 except those with the notation “None” in the “FC” column (Financial Contribution between July 1, 2003 and June 30, 2004).

I don’t know any more than that. My mind is also cleft.

  1. Deadbeats need to held accountable, or else explain why not support the mission of the UUA. (I think this is possible, but won’t waste time on hypotheticals.)
  2. On the other hand, will it do any good? I would like measures be practical, not merely symbolic or represenational. Plus, is it a hostile and highhanded action? Were the congregations warned?

And now we’re up to 461 registered.

By Scott Wells

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


  1. – I’ve guest preached at All Souls Church in Bellville, OH. Its an old Universalist church that has had some revival in recent years (after nearly dying and being down to 8 adult members). They enjoy a close relationship with the 1st Congregational Church in Mansfield, which is quasi-Unitarian in its own way. My guess is that All Souls is not sending money because either…

    (1) As a small, rural church they feel they get insufficient services from the UUA to warrant paying over $50 per each of their 50+ members (this would be over $2,500).


    (2) They aren’t sending anyone to GA, and see no point in paying through the nose for the privelege.


    (3) They are engaged in a major expenditure of capital, and feel they can not spare any money for the UUA and its poor services to rural churches. In other words, the dollars are better invested at home than in Boston.

    I’m not speaking for them. I’m just somebody who knows them, and is speaking about them. And folks from All Souls, please forgive me if I’m completely off base in my speculations. I do know from firsthand experience at other simmilar churches that many small, rural churches (especially of Universalist origin) feel resentfull about the high cost of their denominational neglect. So they protest the only way they can… With their money.


  2. OK, I am feeling a bit better having gone to see the page where the churches are listed. It apears that they have given ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (financially, at least) to the UUA. I still agree with Scott, my mind is still cleft as well and for the same reasons. After all, should we not, at least, ask if there is another way for these churches to contribute? Are they not, by virtue of their very presence giving something to the movement?

    On the other hand, my church is also very close to the local UCC congregation (in fact, WE ARE the local UCC congregation) and we still send money to the UUA and the district. We do not give our “fair share” because we have been working incrementally to that point. However, it has been money well spent. We have recieved a huge amount of help from both the UUA and the UCC and they deserve our support for that. My initial concern came from a fear that the target number was the entry fee. Building to that number is a slow process…

    Also, it does seem strange to me to make this largely symbolic gesture. Eliot Church doesn’t send delegates, yet we do pay something. How does disenfranchisement help?

    Anyway, I have a meeting and must go…

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