To Congregations and Beyond?
Campus ministry leaders know that UU ministry has extended beyond congregations for years, and a new statement from UUA President Rev. Peter Morales asks us as UU’s to consider just how far our ministry can go. In “Congregations and Beyond,” President Morales urges us to think of ourselves as a religious movement, beyond the definition of an association of congregations. He begins by noting his identity as a parish minister but points out that the number of Americans who call themselves UU’s is three times as large as the number of people we count as members of our congregations, and asks what responsibilities and opportunities are related to this group of self-identified but disconnected UU’s.
As one the few programs that is explicitly outside congregations but also institutionally supported by the UUA, campus ministry may offer a window into this new approach. For example, the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries recommends that connection to and support from congregations is key to the long-term success of campus ministry groups. Even if is only access to pastoral care and larger church events, the stabilizing force of the congregation allows campus groups to explore what is most meaningful to them in any given month or year. This seems to mirror President Morales’ two-part approach of “congregations remain the base” and “focus energy on creating a movement beyond the congregation.”
What do you think? Let us hear your comments below. You can also read the take of UUA Congregational Life Director Rev. Terasa Cooley here on her blog.