A year ago, I reviewed the status of congregations that had been "emerging" -- that is, in a state of recognized development -- in the Unitarian Universalist Association since my original scan in 2008. Call it my version of May sweeps.
A few updates.
Since then, four congregation have been admitted to the UUA.
- Unitarian Universalists of the Blue Ridge, Rappahannock, Virginia (42 members)
- Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Lake Norman, N.C. (32)
- All Faiths Unitarian Congregation, Fort Myers, Florida (195)
- Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of McMinnville, Oregon (43)
The first three of these were admitted at the April 2011 Board meeting. I've written about them before. Note All Faiths, Fort Myers: it's a special case and one worth further examination. Interestingly, I don't see that the McMinnville congregation was ever "emerging", as as All Faiths, Fort Myers.
One new congregation has begun its emergence: Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Alameda, California, which already has 42 members and seems to be institutionally developed.
So much about the Fellowship Movement being over; it might be better to say we're in its second phase or silver age.
Which, alas, bring me back to an earlier worry that some emerging congregations have died on the vine and there's nobody to clear the husks away. All Souls, Summerville, S.C. has spent more time on the UUA site dead -- gone since 2008 -- than it was alive. The other Virginia emerging church called Blue Ridge -- this one in Roanoke -- has let its website lapse and a Google search turns up nothing about it. Others have a web presence, but one not updated in some time. I wonder how many truly emerging congregations there are.
A thought: emerging congregations owe some outside entity -- let's say the district -- a brief report in lieu of a donation to the annual program fund (since few emerging congregations give anything to it now.) I'd make it quarterly, but would settle for semi-annually. It needn't be long, and it might help intercept problems before they become unsolvable -- or before the emerging congregation exists only as a zombie.