Emerging church 2011 update

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.

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.

4 Replies to “Emerging church 2011 update”

  1. Live Oaks here in the Bay Area developed after a group of its members left the Oakland church en masse. Thus at this point it does not represent a net gain of UUs. Of interest to UU historians is that there was a Unitarian church in Alameda from 1888 to 1933; its records are at the Andover Harvard Theological Library in Cambridge, Mass. Probably their best-known minister was Rev. Clarence Reed; he left Alameda c. 1910, went to Palo Alto, and then in a few more years to the Oakland church. Pic of the old Alameda church here:

  2. It is true that Live Oak began with a group of committed UUs who left an existing church. But we are now serving a previously unserved community – and attracting a lot of visitors to our fellowship. We cherish the fact that we have brought UUism back to the island of Alameda. We offer meaningful worship, opportunities to connect with others, and religious exploration for children. We are proud to be able to give away our entire collection at every service – and have done that from the beginning.

    Dan’s comment concerns the issue of net growth. While I personally believe that creating a new community in an unserved populated area is the more important point of our existence, in fact, there is a small net gain already. Live Oak has attracted a number of new people, some of whom have become members. In addition, some of those who left the previous congregation were never members there, but have chosen to be members of our new congregation. Granted the numbers are still small, but we anticipate more growth soon.

    When a handful of us chose the daunting task of starting a new congregation, we created a home for more than 30 UUs who might otherwise now be spending their Sundays reading the NY Times.

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