Sunday, October 09, 2011

172 Congregations

It's the time of the year when the Unitarian Directory comes out. This means I can do some number crunching, and thinking about the health of our community.

There are 172 congregations in the Unitarian General Assembly. This is one down from last year (173). Two congregations have disappeared from the directory, though I can't remembering anything being reported about the congregations closing. One is Pudsey in West Yorkshire, and the other is Loughborough in Leciestershire.

The good news is that one new congregation has been recognised this year, Bangor, in North Wales, accepted as a small congregation.

I'm sure that we going to continue to see about two congregations closing every year, I just hope we can see a few more starting as well.

The Directory also lists 133 Ministers (one down on last year) but this is a pretty meaningless number as it includes retired Ministers, and Ministers living in Ireland, America and other parts of the world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You write;"It would be good to see a few congregations starting too".One of the problems is that the GA seems to do little to facilitate the starting of new congregations - or resurrecting extinct ones - often in large cities.There is a move to start a new fellowship in Canterbury soon - I am not aware that there is any "joined-up thinking" centrally on how to go about starting/sustaining a new congregation - the Bangor congregation seems to have come about through the initiative of a retired minister with little other assistance.The Rock Choir movement (featured recently on ITV)is an interesting comparison; originally a one-woman creation which has spread through carefully planning across many parts of the country ;enthusiastic well-trained leaders with good support drawing in members of all ages.I don't think that growing a church is so dissimilar to growing any other organisation that the GA could not learn something from Rock Choir.

7:54 pm  
Blogger Andy from St Ives said...

Is it possible for 'ordinary' members of Unitarian congregations to see this Directory? Is it published online, for example?

11:12 am  
Blogger Stephen Lingwood said...

@Andy The Directory is not online, but there's no reason it couldn't be. It's contents are pretty much "public domain." It is sent out to every minister and secretary to congregations so your congregation should have done. But I would think if you wanted your own copy you could pay to receive one from Essex Hall.

4:10 pm  
Blogger Andrew Bethune said...

Thanks, Stephen. That's what I suspected. I'll ask at church and see if I can have a look at this publication.

6:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm not a Unitarian, but I'm interested in different forms of church practice, and I hope that the Unitarians can find a renewed purpose in the UK.

You describe yourself in 'About me' as 'evangelical'. What does that mean in a Unitarian context? (Sorry if you've explained that elsewhere.) Why do you think it's helpful to use such a loaded Christian term? Mightn't it scare off the kinds of people that Unitarians would hope to attract?

12:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah I've just seen a post from Feb. 2006 where you explain why you call yourself an evangelical. You want to spread the message about Unitarianism.

But that seems to be more precisely 'evangelistic' rather than 'evangelical'. The two terms are sometimes confused, but it does not help to blur the distinction. Methodists, for example, might support the initiative to develop new kinds of church (called 'Fresh Expressions') to appeal to people in our contemporary society, but they wouldn't automatically see themselves as 'evanglical'. Some would, some wouldn't.

The author David Bebbington has come up with some well-known characteristics to define evangelicalism.

6:54 pm  

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