A Broader Basis for Faith
Same Beliefs – Many Practices
The expanding breadth and diversity of Unitarian Universalist congregation and practice is developing a solid base for the growth of Unitarian Universalism in the future. Does it also show a way to the growth of spiritual fulfillment or faith for people living in an era when organized religion is on the wane?–Ed.
Emerging, alternative groups at UUA’s growing edge
Total membership falls 1.2 percent; UUA counts 51 emerging groups, handful of experimental communities.
By Donald E. Skinner | 3.24.14
It’s not a secret that the Unitarian Universalist Association is not growing. In the past decade membership numbers have fluctuated from barely perceptible growth to slight decline. But UUA leaders do see some promising signs.
The UUA’s latest membership figures count 154,707 members in 1,024 congregations in the United States, a decline of 1.2 percent from last year. Another 3,479 members belong to 23 congregations in other countries, for a total of 158,186 members in 1,047 congregations worldwide. Children’s religious education enrollment dropped 4.6 percent last year in the U.S., to 49,191.
The Rev. Stefan Jonasson, director of growth strategies, said that more than half of the U.S. membership decline occurred in three large churches that undertook “a radical paring of their membership rolls.”
Although the total number of U.S. congregations in the UUA has hovered around 1,024 since 2009, new congregations continue to form. In October the Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley, the UUA’s program and strategy officer, told the UUA Board of Trustees that there are more than 50 “emerging” UU congregations across the country. She reported that the UUA is developing new ways to encourage and track them.
The UUA is also working with a variety of more experimental UU communities that may represent alternative models of congregational formation—or that may point to new forms of affiliation.