Steven Caldwell writes: “Even with the criticism of the fellowship movement, it was one of the few growth strategies that the UUA could financially afford to do. Without the fellowship movement, Unitarian Universalism would be a regional religion mostly confined to New England.”
I’ve heard this argument before and it doesn’t work for me. While it is true that the fellowship movement created a number of congregations, isn’t Unitarian Universalism still primarily a regional religion? (and if you make socio-economic class a region, it’s definitely a regional religion) And the anti-clericalism that the Fellowship Movement exacerbated has stymied the growth of our form of liberal religion.
If you only do what you’ve always done, you will only get what you’ve already got.
So let’s say that there’s a new fellowship movement. What would be different this time? Not that I believe that it would be intentional, but, the fellowships would be planted in far-suburbs or exurban areas; still primarily cater to those with 16+ years of education and be Eurocentric in culture. So 10 years from now, what would be markedly different in this “religion for our time?” (don’t get me started on what I think about that.)
One of the things we know about church growth is that it takes A dynamic leader to move the group forward. Not a committee.
The Disciples have something on us here. The UUA doesn’t support the Ron Robinsons in its midst. (individual UUs support Ron and his missionary/missional work, but not the UUA) If a group wants to start a UU congregation they are essentially on their own…and most of them struggle because they don’t have pastoral leadership at the beginning. This is to our detriment.
With no plan for growth and no encouragement of, and support for, those who want to take our form of liberal religion into the abandoned places; are we dreaming big?
Are we even dreaming at all?