How many new congregations?

I’m trying to get the lay of the land, respecting new(ish) churches that have joined the Unitarian Universalist Association. I wrote about the batch that were welcomed at General Assembly 2006 — goodness! more than four years ago — and so wanted to know how many more were in.

I was horrified by what I found. In more than four years, there are only eleven new churches. And the largest of these was the previously existing (1944) Ethical Culture Society, here in D.C., so properly it isn’t new nor a part of the Unitarian Universalist new congregation culture. Not encouraging.

Here’s the list, with web link, current membership and date of admission. (Note: I never could find the resolution by which the WellSprings Congregation was admitted, save a reference to them having been admitted in the 2008 General Assembly minutes, thus the inexact date. Does anyone know?)

Unitarian Universalist Church of Hot Springs Hot Springs AR 04/21/2007 43
Washington Ethical Society Washington DC 04/19/2008 150
Prairie Circle Unitarian Universalist Congregation Grayslake IL 01/19/2008 72
Heartland Unitarian Universalist Church Indianapolis IN 04/17/2010 25
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Chesapeake California MD 04/19/2008 43
New Hope Congregation New Hudson MI 06/23/2009 30
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tupelo Tupelo MS 07/23/2007 36
Unitarian Universalist Peace Fellowship Raleigh NC 01/20/2007 44
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Rocky Mount Rocky Mount NC 01/19/2008 40
WellSprings Congregation Chester Springs PA 2008 143
Foothills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Maryville TN 01/17/2009 72

About the District (for non-Unitarian Universalists)

For all the grief I give the UUA leadership — and sometimes I worry deeply about strategies and priorities from Boston, but that’s for another time — I’m increasingly fond of the Joseph Priestley District (JPD).

The JPD is the regional grouping (middle judicatory in church-speak) that I live in. Encompassing roughly the greater Philadelphia-Washington corridor or the Chesapeake Bay watershed, it is often the largest (in adult membership) of the nineteen districts in the Unitarian Universalist Association, and since the devolution (or abdication) of church growth services to the districts, this is the place where I’ll have the most denominational interaction.

So why the warm feelings?

  1. The well-wishes here and here on my last blog post where I announced the church start. These things matter
  2. A policy for applicant churches that suggests someone has thought this through.

This policy (below the fold in HTML; the JPD site has an old version for download!) requires new starts to develop intentionally, give its Fair Share to the UUA and District and — here’s the pain in the ass; nothing’s perfect — have six members of the organizing committee attend a Health Congregations workshop. That’s over five days, stretched over a year and held middle-of-nowhere-adjacent. My experience with UUA workshops hasn’t been fond. But we live in hope.

Continue reading “About the District (for non-Unitarian Universalists)”