Friday, February 10, 2012

Congregations and beyond

Ninth in a series of posts about the January UUA Board meeting

The blogsphere flurry about President Morales' Congregations and Beyond surprises me in that it is the extension of a conversation that started some time ago. A less restrictive definition of what a "congregation" is was passed by the delegates of GA2011. Peter brought an earlier version of this paper to the October board meeting, which dovetailed with a formal conversation the board was having about the scope of the Association. Even earlier, the "Sources" (what Policy Governance refers to as a "moral owner" of the association) included concepts beyond congregations, our traditional accountability. More recently, the Gathered Here initiative intentionally included people who identified as Unitarian Universalist, but were not necessarily a member of a congregation.

What a good CEO does is take something and make it real. As long as we stay high level and metaphorical, we can avoid the idea that certain sacred traditions may change, such as "worship is central to our church life", implicitly meaning together where we can see and touch each other each Sunday morning.

What does Peter mean when he talks about "a UU movement that is composed of a mix of congregations and a variety of
 other structures"? Our Young Adults have been wrestling with that for some time, even changing their name to CAYAN to reflect an expanded view of what it means to be UU.

I was not around when the Church of the Larger Fellowship, our largest congregation at 3600 members, was formed. I suspect that was viewed with apprehension. In the past ten years, it has provided 400 of the roughly 8300 membership growth in UUA congregations -- not trivial, but not exactly replacing our congregations. I do find it interesting, though, that the new CLF website effectively buries its connection to Unitarian Universalism: nothing on the welcome nor the "new here" pages, explaining it as "We're just opening our doors to seekers who might not understand what our name means or what Unitarian Universalism is."

Is this what Faith Formation 2020 means by a "third place" -- that non-religious/non-secular space for those who are "spiritual but not religious"?

It's a great conversation -- join it.

1 comment:

Sue Polgar said...

Thanks Linda. The more people who are drawn into this conversation, the better. I have spoken with ministers (not in our district) who regard Peter's views with concern and/or disdain. I think we need to be more open-minded -- open to the possibility that this is not a threat to our traditional congregations or to the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Or to be positive, that it may strengthen all our movement.