Monday, February 20, 2006

Results of the Executive Committee election

Here are the folks elected to the first ever General Assembly Executive Committee:

Jennifer Atkinson
Dawn Buckle
The Rev Stephen Dick
Dorothy Hewerdine
Neville Kenyon
The Rev Ann Peart
Sir Peter Soulsby
The Rev Robert Wightman

They will take office at the Annual Meetings in April.

First, let's say what's good about this. The General Asssembly Council, a body universally thought of as too big and completely ineffectual, and a body that people dreaded serving on, is being abolished. The Unitarian General Assembly structures are changing in the most dramatic way since 1928, and that shows a community that is prepared to make some changes, which is heartening.

There are 4 women and 4 men. This is good. There are 3 ministers and 5 laypeople. I think that's about the right proportion.

However, the people elected to the EC are definitely the usual suspects. The form is new, but the people are old faces. Several of the people above have served on the Council. I suppose that's understandable for the first administration as a transitional body. I know I voted for a usual suspect and didn't take any risks. Hopefully in 3 or 6 years people (including me) might want to take some risks, and vote for people with radical change agendas.

The turnout for the election was 66.4%. Better than the turnout in the 2005 General Election which was 61.3% but still far from a number to be proud of.

Now the issue of the number of people on the electoral role, a question I asked here and an issue that Boy in the Bands talks about too.

The number is 2563.

This is an absolute minimum number of Unitarians in Britain. There are more, but any other number is going to be an estimate. We can only know for sure that there are more than 2563 Unitarians in Britain. Jeff Teagle says 4000. But this is still less than the figure of 6000 that I've always heard being knocked about. I think this may have come from George Chryssides in his 1998 book, The Elements of Unitarianism, but I don't know for sure. If that is true then are we to assume that the number has dropped from 6000 to 4000 in 8 years? Are we losing 1000 members every 4 years? Does that put our extinction at 2022?

These are rough numbers, but I think it's worth putting it in such stark terms. If we continue doing what we're doing we'll be dead in 20 years. Is that enough of a reason to do something radical?

1 Comments:

Anonymous Mike Killingworth said...

Well, we clearly aren't replenishing our numbers fast enough to prevent decline; hopefully this fact will focus the attention of the incoming EC.

As to the turn-out, if you conduct an election without electioneering, I'd say a 66.4% turn-out was high. Not having had (or particularly wanted) a vote myself, I've no idea if people were encouraged to slip a cheque in with their ballot paper - an opportunity wasted, if not...

It will be interesting to see what the correspondence columns of The Inquirer make of it. My prediction that it would be little better than a census seems to have been borne out - four of the eight are from one region (the North-West) - and (perhaps more worringly) six of the eight are "cradle" Unitarians.

7:14 pm  

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