Monday, March 02, 2015

Growing, declining and stable Unitarian congregations 2014

Following on from my last post I am having a closer look at what the Unitarian membership numbers reveal about the state of the denomination.

Comparing numbers to last year it looks like most congregations are either stable or slowly declining.

The biggest decline is London Hampstead that has gone from reporting 134 members to 79 members. The Annual Report suggests this is the result of a tidying-up exercise on behalf of that congregation, which is fair enough and needs to be done. But this does rather suggest maybe a change in numbers over many more years which is now only being reported this year.

This change means the combined congregations of Newington Green and Islington are now the biggest congregation with a combined membership of 87. However this is down from 92 last year, after seeing a period of extended growth.

I haven't analysed every single congregation, but those that stick out for me reporting a decline are Cambridge, Croydon, Dean Row, and Eccles.

But also there is a modest growth reported at Kendal, Aberdare, Bangor and Glasgow.

Norwich has seen significant growth growing 8 members from 46 to 54.

And Birmingham Hollywood has seen the biggest growth of 9 members from 59 to 68.

As always happens, an overall decline in numbers reveals a variety of congregations in various conditions. A majority are declining, some are holding their own. Others are growing.

What should our response be to this?

I'll be thinking about that in my next post.


Blogger Andrew Bethune said...

Cambridge - our decline in quota members is due to a more rigorous application of our rules, which state that a quota member is someone who attends services and 'it is assumed' has paid a subscription of , I think, £35 to the church. There is a lot of meaning in that word 'assumed'. I was involved in deciding the quota, and I was less willing to 'assume' than our treasurer. So it's my fault. Despite that, I'd say Cambridge is growing. Certainly attendances, involvement and activity are all up. Maybe we need to record a range of different statistics. Or maybe we need to stop being that kind of church.

10:09 pm  
Anonymous Caroline Blair said...

Yes, it's not straightforward at all. A few years ago we decimated the numbers at Kensington by starting only to count people who returned the membership form and subscription (sub optional, form not). Before then we counted as members everyone who had asked for a newsletter. For all we knew, some of them were dead, or at least chucked it straight in the bin.

7:21 pm  

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