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Showing posts from May, 2011

American Unitarians are declining, British Unitarians are growing

OK, I've been writing a lot about statistics lately, and you have to be very cautious about statisitics. There's all kind of ways in which they don't report the full picture of reality. But they are worth keeping an eye on. The UU World has reported that the membership numbers of UUA congregations in the United States have fallen for the third year running. This was reported at the latest UUA Board meeting. First (at the risk of repeating myself) I want to note that membership numbers are reported as a matter of normal business at the UUA Board, whereas I've never seen them discussed in the British Executive Committee minutes. This should be normal practice. As these numbers aren't reported normally in the British Unitarian community I've drawn upon work that other people have done ( here and here ), and this year's (2010) Annual Report to look at what our trends are. Here we go: 2005: 3952 2006: 3754 2007: 3711 2008: 3642 2009: 3658 2010: 3672 Over

Time for bishops to leave the House of Lords

The Government has released plans to reform the House of Lords, replacing an entirely unelected chamber with a wholly or partly elected chamber. The plans are that the House of Lords should be either 100% or 80% elected. I don't want to express an opinion about whether it should be 80% or 100%. But if we are going to appoint 20% I want to make sure that that does not include, as a matter of right, 26 Anglican bishops. Of course if some committee decides it wants to appoint any bishops, fine. And to be honest someone like Rowan Williams is probably the kind of person I would want. But we cannot continue to have a constitution that deliberately favours one particular religion and one particular denomination. It should not be the right of 26 Anglican bishops to vote on national legislation. Last year as part of the Power 2010 movement, over 50,000 people wrote emails to those 26 bishops asking them to support a pro-demoncracy reform that would include an elected House of Lords. I

Church Re-Starting

A friend of mine from my time in Boston, Christana Wille McKnight, is doing a really interesting ministry and blogging about it here . She's re-starting a church, First Unitarian Church of Norton , Massachusetts. There was a church building, but the congregation went extinct some time ago, and her ministry has been to go in, and see where there is possibility for re-starting the congregation. This seems like a very exciting ministry and might be another model of church planting that will work in Britain. We have a lot of congregations that might be on the verge of closing. Could we put ministers into places where there's a building but no congregation to start something from scratch? I'm watching with interest.

Church Planting and Church Renewal: The Way Forward

So, I'm going to shift from talking about politics back to church planting now. The Executive Committee have committed to grow the Unitarian community by 20% in five years. How do you achieve that? Do you expect every congregation to grow at 20%? Well if you did then every congregation would have to grow as laid out here by Scott Wells . But the fact is not every congregation well grow at 20%. Obviously some will decline, some will grow, will stay the same. Some will change at a different rate than others. The least we can do is monitor this, to get a sense of what is growing and why. But eventually the Executive Committee are going to have to make an uncomfortable decision. That decision is based on the fact that they cannot give the same support to all congregations and so will have to prioritise those congregations that can benefit most from their support. For my congregation, for example, I wouldn't expect to get a any particular support from the national body. We can (

Some post-match analysis on the AV Referendum and local elections

Well, obviously I'm disappoointed at the results of the referendum. But it's important not to live and die but such things. From a spiritual point of view I think you have to be engaged and fighting for the politics you believe in, but it can't be your ultimate concern. The Beloved Community is not built on the results of any one election. It is positive that it was a reasonably high turn-out, higher than many expected. It was a reasonable turnout with a clear result, which is what you hope for in politics. The people did vote. The issue was aired, though not as well as it should have been. I would have liked to have seen a BBC1 primetime debate, like the Prime Ministerial debates. I think the media has a responsibility to give this more coverage than they did. I've heard that under 40-year-olds were much more likely to vote yes (been searching through the Internet and I've not found any reliable statistics on this yet though) which might mean that in another gen

Vote Yes!

Tomorrow is the the vote to decide what system we want to elect our MPs to Westminster. First-past-the-post, the obvious system to use when 90% of people voted for two parties, is not a fair system to use in a multi-party democracy. AV, however, is a simple, common-sense solution to having fair votes in a multi-party democracy: Most elections under first-past-the-post are won in a small number of marginal seats. This increases apathy in our political system, as most people think that their vote won't make a difference. The public are getting more and more disenchanted with politics, and politicians. This is dangerous for demoncracy. Under AV, your vote is much more likely to make a difference. AV reduces the number of safe seats and increases the number of marginals. Put simply, it gives more power to the voter. Full-stop. It's more democratic. And I have to say the "No to AV" arguments are misleading to the point of being outright lies. And you have to wonder wh