Emerging Kirk

Of course, all this Unitarian Universalist Association emerging congregation talk belies another idea of an emerging church: one that challenges structures that don’t work. We’re a pretty conservative group when it comes to structures. Even resorting to a decades-old model as another option — the Fellowship movement — isn’t free of controversy. Kinda sad.

From Ekklesia’s news feed today:

“Church of Scotland to invest in forms of ministry and mission”

The Church of Scotland is planning substantial financial investment in new forms of church life. At its upcoming General Assembly, the Kirk’s Ministries Council will outline plans to devote £1.5 million over five years to ’emerging ministries’.

Offering a free subdomain for emerging congregations

To be listed as an emerging congregation at UUA.org, “the group should have either a meeting address or working website or both.”

Hmm. One can be almost free of charge, with community support to develop and maintain and is an important communications and resources channel; the other is costly, difficult to acquire and maintain and might only a identified as helping the congregation a few hours a week.

I know the Web site v. meeting space issue isn’t really either/or, but if you have to make the most of effort and resources early on to preserve momentum, I’m going to get that Web site up pronto.

More about the how later, and how to do it without being ugly.

Yet an organizing team is caught in a bind. Internet domains are an important part of an organization’s branding. That branding, once established, is hard to change. (Ask anyone who has agreed to a provisional church name!) Yet an unwieldy name — or one that says more about the space provider (say firstuucalmharbor.googlepages.com) than the congregation — is a nonstarter. Whenever I see a tilde (~) in a URL, as sometimes happens, I wonder if I’ve entered a time warp.

Even if you have a good idea for a congregation, it does take some skill to set up the domain and that’s one task I’d want to avoid if I didn’t understand it.

A good compromise is to have a third-level domain (boyinthebands is second level; com is the first level for this site) that directs (“forwards”) searchers to the site being hosted. It seems some districts still do this, and for a while in the 1990s the UUA did this. But I guess not all do. And while I know what the MDD and SWC of the UUA are, strangers won’t.

Here’s my offer. Until further notice, I will let any UUA-directed emerging congregation have a third-level redirect from my unitarianuniversalist.org or unitarianuniversalists.org domains. Something like sunnyville.unitarianuniversalist.org or valleychapel.unitarianuniversalists.org. I’ll also make a link from the front page of the appropriate site. I’ll even throw in a couple of email forwarders. There is no fee. If I have to withdraw or change this offer, I will give you a month to make other arrangements. (If your new start is Christian Universalist, you can have the same at universalistchurch.net.)

Though I bet you’ll want something more permanent as the congregation matures. And if my experience is right, you’d probably only want a forwarder for a year or two. All I ask is the name and email addresses of a primary and backup contact.

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