So, I wanted a list of Unitarian Universalist member congregations and the years they were organized.
Not just an idle curiosity, but to see what proportion is less than 30 years old, to see what era (other than the Fellowship Movement obviously) produced surviving churches, and which areas have a better recent experience of welcoming new congregations. (Culture and expectations matter.) I’m about three-quarters done with the list.
As a side-effect of my search, I discovered the UUA keeps information about former congregations online. The disbanded, disaffiliated, merged and mysterious. I don’t know how far it goes back, or if its complete within that unknown date range. But the reportage of ex-member-congregations has, in twenty years, gone from routine to almost nil.
And without this missing news, how can we mourn our dead? How can we be thankful for their ministry? This tribute matters. It shows that we respect the life cycle of congregations and, like trees in a forest, have to plant the new to replace deadwood. It shows we replace the connections. It shows we respect the work now finished, or at least finished with us or in their former incarnations.
We cannot let these lost congregations go silently, any more than we would let our own loved ones go unlamented and unpraised.