Money talks. You can complain and grouse, but money talks. It may not always be used well — and some volunteer or unfunded activities may produce profund results — but it shows what we value.
UUA leadership — staff, yes, but I’m thinking more of elected and volunter “true believers” — has been keen to talk about the “fair share” congregations ought to pay because the congregations are covenanted in community. That covenant cuts both ways with accountability to what congregations needs is less clear. Besides, congregations don’t have a covenant with the administration but with other congregations. (And I’ve heard grumbling from small churches that large churches have a fair-share formula option they don’t; it smacks of favoritism.)
But part of the problem is that, as a service provider, the UUA is almost a monopoly, and the overweening sectarianism that has grown up in the last couple of decades makes other options for service provenance less and less likely. Yet consider the Cathedral of Hope, Dallas, formerly the largest congregation of the Metropolitan Community Church, that went independent and has recently voted to join the United Church of Christ. Why? At heart, I believe because the UCC provides better services at less cost, and they’re more serious players. Money talks, and shapes how we fulfill mission. Even if the bulk of UUA member congregations won’t drift off for a better option — one may not exist — they (we) do deserve other options for service providing. That could be anything from consultants, companies, professional coops, website owners, multi-congregational agencies, ecumenical endeavors, independent affiliates, and the like. We could get radical and talk about alternate ministerial fellowship. (The MFC has the sole fellowship authority over the UUA, true, but since UUA members churches aren’t obliged to get MFC fellowshipped ministers, it follows there could be an indepentent fellowshipping process. Not likely, but it is possible, particularly in an underserved region, or small theological cohort.)
So here’s the point. Give, O Congregations, the Annual Program Fund what you think its services and value to the Association is worth. Fund what you use, even it isn’t something you have historically funded. Congregations, consider creating content (open licensed, of course). Oh, and Commission on Appraisal, you might want to look at this issue.
This is post #1200.