Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It's that time of the year again. The Annual Report has been published, with the number of quota members of each congregation. Though again the total number hasn't been published, and I've had to do a quick calculation, which gives us a total number of 3560. Unfortunately this represents a 3% drop in UK Unitarian membership in the last year. The Executive Committee were aiming for a 20% increase by 2016. The numbers have risen very very slightly in the last few years, but that looks like a blip now, as numbers have continued to decline.
Here's how the numbers have been in the last few years:
2005: 3952
2006: 3754
2007: 3711
2008: 3642
2009: 3658
2010: 3672
2011: 3560
Now let's look at congregations with more than 50 members, and compare their numbers to last year (in brackets)
Ashton 54 (54)
Atherton 62 (62)
Birmingham Hollywood 58 (48)
Bolton Bank Street 58 (58)
Bury 73 (75)
Croydon 50 (51)
Dean Row 70 (80)
Dukinfield 52 (52)
Eccles 60 (67)
Hinkley 57 (59)
Kendal 51 (51)
Knutsford 55 (55)
London Hampstead 150 (168)
London Islington and Newington Green 75 (70)
London Kensington 63 (55)
Padiham 53 (53)
Sheffield Norfolk Street 58 (58)
Edinburgh 64 (60)
As you can see most congregations have stayed static or declined. Birmingham Hollywood, London Islington and Newington Green, London Kensington and Edinburgh have grown.
Yes, these numbers may not be accurate. My congregation (Bolton Bank Street) has a membership number of 58. This is not accurate, and I'm not sure where it came from. Last summer out membership number was 56.
Numbers are not everything. But if we're a few short years away from exinction, we should be aware of that.


Blogger PeaceBang said...

Not good news, but thanks for compiling this list. All the best and blessings to you and the British Unitarians.

5:59 pm  
Anonymous Tim Moore said...

Just been going through your blog and your recent posts, so thanks for your analysis, Stephen.

On the surface, this isn't good news, but we're talking about around a hundred people. The figure of net decline doesn't differentiate between death rate or resignation, nor of membership by birth rate, members new to Unitarianism, or transfers from other congregations. There are so many other demographic and geographical features of membership (age, length of membership, distance home to place of worship) that numbers alone cannot show.

The other problem with measuring growth by numbers is that it doesn't show the achievements of congregations, some of which have changed remarkably for the better, despite not growing numerically.

I could go on, but if the distanced travelled by congregations and individuals isn't recognised and built on, there will be a number of people with egg on their faces in 2016 if we don't attract the hoped-for 700 more members to our movement.

5:22 pm  

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