UUA certification numbers roundup, 2015

Analyzing UUA member congregation numbers is so much easier now that you can bulk-download the data, which includes helpful tidbits like pledge income and average attendance. The stats were due on Monday, and so I hope they’re complete. [Scratch that: the deadline was extended to last night, due to recent bad weather in Boston.]

I’ll noodle over the numbers to see what they reveal — perhaps nothing profound — but it’s worth noting that they’re only as good as reported. Does a significant drop in members mean people left, or that a long-overdue cleanout took place?

It’s with that in mind that I note that about ten percent of reporting congregations report the exact same membership numbers as last year. Which is certainly possible, but also makes me wonder what may not be said or known.

By Scott Wells

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


  1. Identical year-to-year reporting should be statistically less probable the larger the congregation is. I once served a larger congregation where the preceding minister had reported membership and RE enrollment with identical numbers for 5 years in a row. An underhanded effort to hide that the church no longer had a membership above 600, and that RE enrollment had fallen by two-thirds.

  2. I look forward to your observations and analysis. Last year the church administrator counted and we went up. This year the treasurer counted and we went down. Children up, a real change. That sort of flitting around seems sort of typical, since our bylaw definition of membership and the UUA definition don’t mean the same thing and are open to interpretation.

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