Who's really central in the UUA?

After a quarter-century as a Unitarian Universalist, I can say with conviction that our largest problems have little to do with money or even membership, but with deep unresolved issue of identity. The continual plaints — and curiously distributed — circle about who is or is not welcome, with tones more fitting for a Dickensian workhouse door. Mewing and poormouthing is sure to bring a comfort SWAT team — which even more obvious online — which soothes the complaint but (1) doesn’t discover if it was based in fact nor (2) does it resolve the underlying tension.

Nor do I intend to; indeed, I think the Ship of Simple Solutions sailed a long time ago.

The question I ask above — Who’s really central in the UUA? — is quite literal and is a response to calls for selling the UUA’s historic and central properties and finding other accommodation. One failed idea would have kept the offices in metro Boston, but other calls would have ’25’ move to the less-expensive middle of the country. I don’t advocate for this, considering the disruption to staff and their experience, the doubtful cost savings and the loss of morale from a move (however framed) made from lack.

But I also like to fiddle with UUA data and want learn more about optimization and mapping. So using this method, I figured out the geographic center of the UUA membership. That optimal point, as the crow flies, for all UUA congregation members to meet up. Well, not all. I’ve only included the North American congregations and have excluded the non-local Church of the Larger Fellowship for obvious reasons. And the data’s a year old. But that shouldn’t put us too far off.

So where? A field outside of St. Anne, Illinois, about 75 miles due south of Chicago. (But I suppose Gary and South Bend are more economical options.)

Western Conference Unitarians are entitled to say “I told you so.”

And that then would make the congregation at the center of the UUA the Unitarian Universalist Community Church, Park Forest, Illinois. Congratulations! (But is there room for 160,000-odd people for coffee?)

5 Replies to “Who's really central in the UUA?”

  1. I’ve been told the Hoopeston Universalist building still stands, and is used as a nice restaurant.

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a restaurant. I was going through my Churches archives and noticed all of this material from the Hoopeston Church. Turns out our Minister during the 60s had been the minister at Hoopeston, and retired back there when he left Geneva.

    My daughter’s in laws have family in Hoopeston. It had a huge canning industry but that’s no more. My daughter’s in laws told me they have a huge Chrystal Meth problem. That drug’s really plagued the midwest’s rural communities.

    While the Universalists are no more in Hoopeston, I think nearby Champaign Urbana has a pretty active UU Church. This might not be a bad location for UUA. If I had to pick though, I’d pick Indianapolis. Better air connections and inexpensive place to live. I’d look for space to hold large meetings and do GA there instead of moving it around.

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