Capacity and the Unitarian Universalist Christians

For most of my quarter-century sojourn with the Unitarian Universalists, I’ve been a Christian and have held some leadership positions. I think I’m in a good position to say that in those years we’ve had better and worse times. We don’t see the full-bore Christian-baiting as once was common, but neither do I hear much from the mellow yet constant “near Christians.” Perhaps both generations have moved on. And there seems to be much less institutional activity even though the Unitarian Universalist Christians are more geographically dispersed, if fewern I sense, than ever.

Thus a chicken-or-egg question. Is the institutional change the cause of the smaller numbers, or a symptom? There are roughly the same number of Christian churches in the UUA as before, with roughly the same number of members. Perhaps the Internet Age, with its focus on self-organization and self-publication, have a role; indeed, I suspect it does. Also, I’ve known more people than I care to count that have drifted to other denominations, or have detached their affiliations. (Far fewer become non-Christian Unitarian Universalists.)

Which makes me think: Unitarian Universalist Christian institutions, other than congregations (and perhaps even them, to a point) have depended on a ministry of identification. That is, the simple fact of their existance shows that Unitarian Universalist Christians exist, and that’s an important point if the majority opinion is that you shouldn’t exist. Other programs come and go, but this persists. Luther said “Here I stand; I can do no other.” I’m inclinded to think, “Here we stand, and it’s time to get to work.”

I took a piece of paper and jotted down what the Unitarian Universalist stakeholders do.

Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship

  • Point of identification (“they exist”)
  • Point of contact, especially for isolated Christians
  • Mailing lists for community and resource-sharing
  • Newsletter for inspiration, resources and information
  • Website, ditto, with extra resources
  • “Revival” series of conferences
  • Participation in the ecumenical Consulation on Common Texts, the source of the Revised Common Lectionary
  • Public worship at General Assembly
  • Publication sales and sharing
  • A scholarship journal, though inactive in recent years

Council of Christian Churches in the Unitarian Universalist Association

  • Point of identification
  • Annual meeting for (limited) business, networking and support
  • A (limited) opportunity for study

Bloggers

  • Source of opinion, and sometimes theology or other resources
  • Sharing news

But these are some programs or functions that would be very helpful in a growing Christian movement among Unitarian Universalists:

  • Advocacy among non-Christian Unitarian Universalist decision-makers and opinion-shapers
  • Presence among non-Unitarian Universalist Christians, apart from the Consultation on Common Texts and in federated congregations
  • Support for Unitarian Universalist Christian ministers seeking placements, including secular work
  • Coordination of field trials and feedback for liturgical material
  • Publication of religious education resources
  • Developing a theological rationale (or rationales) for Christian presence among Unitarian Universalists
  • Discerning the distinct, non-fungible Unitarian and Universalist strains of Christianity
  • Coordination of ministerial internships
  • Creation and idenification of hymn resources
  • Recommendation of best licenses and distribution models of intellectual property
  • An opt-in service — such a directory — for in-person organizing
  • Recasting and publishing classic texts in a contemporary, digestible way
  • Assistance in administrating small groups
  • Importation, translation and republication of foreign Unitarian and Universalist Christian literature
  • Developing ministry models among young adults
  1. Derek says:

    On the list of functions not presnetly covered by existing organizations, which 3 would you assign highest priority to?

  1. [...] institutions, other than congregations (and perhaps even them, to a point) have depended on a ministry of identification. That is, the simple fact of their existance shows that Unitarian Universalist Christians exist, [...]

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