Friday, October 30, 2009

Hate Crime

I admit that I don't really get news from very traditional sources - usually things like Ekklesia, the Daily Show, Radio 1, and sometimes Radio 4. But how the hell did I miss that a gay man was attacked and killed in Trafalgar Square in central London in a homophobic attack? Have I just been watching the Simpsons rather than the 6 o' clock news and missed it or has this been under-reported?

It was only when I was looking at the new Lesbian and Gay Chrisrian Movement website that I heard about this.

There's a vigil happening in London, almost as I type this. So I'll virtually stand in solitaridy against hate crimes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Twice the Power of Love

'I went to see a sage in Jerusalem, because I was attracted to someone in yeshiva. I told him I was attracted to men and women. He said, "My dear one, you have twice the power of love. Use it carefully."'

Rabbi Steven Greenberg

I heard Rabbi Greenberg, an openly gay rabbi, a number of years ago at Harvard University at an evening about "Gays and God" (the video is here, but the quality is not very good). I wrote the phrase down that night, as I thought it was a lovely little quote to begin talking about bisexual theology.

I wanted to share this here because I've just submitted an article about bisexual theology, and at the last minute decided to get rid of that quote, as it didn't really fit in with the overall direction of the article.

But it's a damn good quote, so if I wasn't going to use it in the article, I wanted to share it here.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Alleluia! New Unitarian website!!

For the first time since I became a Unitarian 7 years ago I'm not ashamed of my religious communty's website.

It was pretty bad, then they launched a "new" one a few years ago - which was basically the old one, but coloured purple.

Now due to the persistence of a few dedicated volunteers we finally have a website that looks better, is more easily navigable, and is more appealing to newcomers.

It has the text of Cliff Reed's "Unitarian, What's That?" which is still the best literature for a basic overview of Unitarianism and is excellently written. And it also has videos describing Unitarianism too. Not massively high-tech, just up to the basic standard it should be: clear, pleasant to look at, and useful.

Thank the Lord!

How do we measure Unitarian growth?

A few weeks ago I asked the following question to the Executive Committee:

How does the Executive Committee intend to objectively measure numerical growth?

I ask this question as I am not aware of any publicly available figure for the number of Unitarians in Britain, other than the electoral role number for the Executive elections. But why should this number be only available as a by-product of elections? Shouldn't the number be published every year at the Annual Meetings? This is what happens in the UUA, and as a result I can easily find that the number of UU adult members is 164,656. I can also go on the UUA website and find the membership numbers for individual congregations (see here for example) Such information is public and easily available. Can such information not be available here too?

I understand the difficulties of getting those accurate numbers but if an objective is not measurable then what is the point of it? If growth is an objective it should be measurable.

The response here was

Thank you Stephen. An old management adage says 'you can't manage what you don't measure.' As you point out, it is difficult to get reliable information (and this is true in the UUA as well). Nonetheless, knowing and sharing this information could be helpful in our focus on growth.

Andy [Pakula]

I've never quite understood why the reported membership numbers for each congregation should be so secret. And why I only ever heard rumours of our national numbers. Are there 6,000 of us? 4,000 of us, 2,000 of us? Is that so difficult to determine? At what rate are we in decline? When will we go extinct if you follow the curve of the line? Surely the answers to such questions will determine our attitude and priorities.

I don't mind reporting that the last time I checked there were 56 members in my congregation. I have spent a good bit of time trying to make sure that number is accurate so I can measure numerical growth, but it still includes a few inactive members.

There are of course other ways to measure growth. We could pick one Sunday and all count the number of attenders in worship that Sunday (I think the Baptists do that) or we could report average worship attendance numbers. Again, I don't consider it a secret to say our average attendance in 2008 was 31 people.

All this talk about growth has been a bit airy-fairy for the last few years. If we are thinking about growth, we need to be able to measure it.