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Showing posts from April, 2011

Church Planting and Church Renewal

Where should we concentrate our ministry and mission as British Unitarians? Ever since I started this blog I have been calling for church-planting. Five years ago I wrote this post doing some analysis of the largest population areas without a Unitarian presence, therefore where you could plant new churches. It's probably time to do some updating. The following is a mixture of analysis of populations and gut instinct. There are large areas of the UK where people could not get to a nearby Unitarian church even if they wanted to. There are very isolated towns such as Carlisle and Peterborough where we could plant new churches. The other place I would aim is the large urban area of south Yorkshire, planting in either Barnsley or Rotherham or looking to grow the cause in Wakefield . The Blackcountry is another large urban area with tiny churches. You could either look into resurrecting the Unitarian communities in Dudley or Wolverhampton or plant something new in Walsall (my hom


In one of the early episodes of Batttlestar Galactica (2000s series) the President carefully writes down the number of surviving humans on the band of surviving spaceships on a whiteboard. She adjusts the number with each news report of loss of life. That reminds me of the situation we're in now in British Unitarianism. We passed a resolution in 2006 calling for growth, and it's taken five years before we have publically published what our actual membership numbers are. So here it is: 3,672. Even that number has not been officially published, but added up by someone in America. If any British Unitarians are not paying attention to what Scott Wells is writing, particularly here , then you should be. We all should be. And we should realise that our situation is exactly that of Battlestar Galactica. We are a surviving band. There is much too much complacency still. The next ten years will be vital.

AV Voting is just like the X Factor, it's not complicated

Back in January I posted about the AV referedum with a reasonably open mind. Since then I've become more convinced that AV is a far superior system than first past the post. I don't mind publicly saying so. AV will mean fewer safe seats, and more marginal seats which means elections won't be fought just in a few isolated places. True, the difference is quantitative, not qualitative. But it is an improvement. MPs will need to work harder to secure the public's vote. AV will also mean more genuine choice. You won't be forced to vote for only two or three main parties. You can vote for who you really want, knowing the vote won't be wasted. No more tactical voting. If you're happy with the bigger parties, this might not convince you, but if you could imagine voting for smaller parties (or you at least want the option) then AV will allow you too. AV will mean that extremist parties will be less likely to get into power, because the vast majority oppose them. And

Strategic change and culture change

I was very tempted to call this post "Why the Unitarian Executive Committee's growth strategy will fail" but I don't want to be quite that negative. Actually I want to say that I think a lot of what our national Unitarian leadership is doing is absolutely right. I completely agree with what they have prioritised and most of what they're doing to get there. It is good to aim for growth. 20% growth in five years is very ambitious. It's pretty much what we're aiming for at my congregation, but aiming for it in one reasonably healthy congregation is very different from aiming for it for a complete denomination. The EC have set out a vision, and told us where they want to be, and what changes will have to take place to get us there. Now, of course, is where the resistance to change kicks in. They need to keep communicating, communicating, communicating, as much as possible what the vision is, why we need to get there, how we will get there. They need to keep ex

Undodiaid Bangor Unitarians

I'm still blogging about (but not at anymore) the GA. I'm keeping an eye on the Twitter feed. This morning Undodaiaid Bangor Unitarians were welcomed into the General Assembly as a new small congregation. This is great news, in many ways the best news to come out of the these meetings. If I had been there this morning I would have stood up and said that this is the kind of thing we need to be supporting as strongly as possible. Essex Hall should prioritise support it gives to new and emerging congregations. The number one way any denomination grows is by planting new congregations. We should be giving financial grants for development, and finding ways to help the evolution of such groups to become healthier and stronger. The last time I remember this happening was Durham Unitarian Fellowship in 2003 . And where is Durham Unitarian Fellowship now, eight years later? It's extinct. We need to work hard to make sure this doesn't happen again. Emerging congregations have to

General Assembly Annual Meetings 2011

The Annual Meetings are still on-going but I am home now, and can report on the first half of the meetings that I attended. Derek McAuley, the Chief Officer is also blogging from GA on his blog. The Ministerial Fellowship conference was good, and included a live video link up from a consultant in Seattle who lead a workshop on social media and communication strategy. The only other thing I can really report on is the main Business sessions . This seems to be a larger than usual Annual Meetings as the venue for the business sessions felt pretty full, and quite a bit hot, dry and stuffy. The way they are doing business has also changed and Chairs of Commissions did not give verbal reports this year. As it's written in the Annual Report, this seems like a good way to cut down on the time it takes for business. I did ask a question about reporting membership numbers and was told that the total number of Unitarians would be reported in Annual Reports in future, so five or six years afte

General Assembly Preview

The Unitarian General Assmebly Annual Meetings are on this weekend. The Minister's Conference starts tomorrow and then the main meetings on Friday. I'm not staying for the whole conference this year (I'm not staying away from my congregation on Palm Sunday). So I'm not going to be live blogging exactly. I'll do some reporting when I get back. Anyone else want to do some live blogging? Anyone? I'm presuming some people will be Twittering hashtag #GAUK? To be honest I'm not sure there's anything terribly exciting going to be happening. I don't know if it's just me, but GA's feel more boring than they used to. I might be suprised.