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We are now too small to be a denomination

There's a thought that I keep coming back to: Unitarians in Britain are now too small to be considered "a denomination."

Now, I've not gone out of my way to research what sociologists of religion consider to be the definition of "a denomination" so I'm not trying to make a claim with a lot of research to back it up.

But it seems to me that a denomination is "an organisation of organisations" it is a series of organisations that have enough left-over energy and personnel to donate "upwards" to the organisation of a structure that is an umbrella to those local organisations.

I just don't see that being possible any more.

And I think that changes things.

Many times I have said of Unitarianism "someone should do something" and imagined money, people and structures who's job it is to do those things. But that's just an illusion. Those people and structures don't exist, or at least are really struggling to function.

I need to repent of those times when I've imagined that we were a denomination that should be doing things and asked for things to be done. It's simply not realistic.

We need to stop doing it. We think of various projects that we think a denomination should be doing. We have meetings and argue about such projects. We want order and organisation and functionality. I want those things too! I'm frustrated when things don't seem to be happening properly. But I (and all of us) need to get over that.

We are still thinking as if we were a denomination of 50,000 people. Now a denomination of 50,000 people would still be a tiny denomination. But it would be big enough to function. We are no where near that. There are less than 3000 of us. We are below the level where it is possible to function as a denomination.

Our expectations need to change dramatically.

Is it possible to have a new President every year? I don't believe that it is.

Is it possible to fill all of our current committees? I don't believe that it is.

It is possible to have different grand plans and projects every five years? I don't believe that it is.

There is a certain amount of busyness that we get up that assumes we are a denomination and that such busyness will generate results. It hasn't for decades.

We need to be liberated from such busyness, liberated from trying and failing to be a denomination of 50,000 people.

And get down to what matters most...


Anonymous said…
It's a good cliffhanger, Stephen. What does matter most for Unitarians? Not the busyness of running a denomination, even if we still could manage all that with our shrinking size. That's not why people would want to join us anyway. If we can only do one important thing what should it be? Have excellent Sunday services?. Social and charitable action? Or maybe just trying to agree on the way forward for our movement (are we still a movement?). Sorry I only seem to have questions, perhaps you are working on this for your next blog posting …


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