Following on yesterday's post, we can talk about the Fellowship Movement with either praise or scorn, but either way, it will not come back. We have to understand what it was, good and bad, before deciding what we want. (Or what some of us want: I'm not suggesting Unitarian Universalists need to act as a united front with one missions policy.)
So, we can have something today that draws upon the lessons of the Fellowship Movement, but it'll come with its own rewards and challenges. We do not live in the demographic world of the 1940s to 1960s. Anything we learn from those days needs to be translated for today.
Let's count out the obvious differences. Can you think of others?
- We do not have a culture that defaults to church membership.
- Indeed suspicion of religion is at all time high, and despite our rhetoric of how different we are, we are still a religious institution to anyone criticizes religion.
- We don't have a mass exodus to newly developed suburbs.
- There are a few areas where there is no liberal religious congregation. (But many are underserved.)
- We do not have a shortage of ministers.
- Women, who more likely worked at home in the Fellowship Movement era, and so may have been available for the volunteer roles necessary to run fellowships, are now more likely to work out of the home.
- Opportunities for social service in secular settings are more robust now they were in the Fellowship Movement era.
- The Internet makes it easier to connect with communities of religious liberals without actually having to be physically present.