Note: This essay was originally published under the title, “My Church is Dying, and I’m Okay with That,” at PrayWithYourFeet.org. Click here to read the entire article.
“The movement which many call ‘Unitarian Universalism’ has been dying for 43 years, continues to die, and the fact of its slow but steady death is the elephant in the room that few in the UUA want to face, let alone talk about.”
— David Loehr, “Why ‘Unitarian Universalism’ is Dying,” Journal of Liberal Religion (2005)
A few weeks ago, our interim minister told a group of congregants that, if we didn’t change, our church won’t exist in a couple of decades. It felt like a punch to the gut. But I think he was right. In fact, I would go one step further: My church will probably not exist in 2040.
The building where I attend church has been a Unitarian church since 1874. In a few years, we’ll be celebrating our 150th anniversary. I don’t think we’ll see our 175th.
I strongly agree with questioning the desirability of growth and with appreciating what is, even if it is small. But my experience of UUism and UU community in Austin is different from yours. We recently built an addition to our sanctuary, and while I doubted that we needed it, people sit in those seats every Sunday that I’ve attended recently. I don’t go every Sunday, and neither do many other members, but that doesn’t seem like a problem or death rattle to me. We turn up at service when we can and stay connected in other ways. I love the idea of moving church outside the sanctuary, and in particular, I think this would be a wonderful way to approach RE.