UUA Unitarian*Universalist Membership Statistics Are Aging. . .
The deadline for congregations to complete Certification of Membership for 2008 was February 1st at 5 p.m. Eastern Time. According to the official UUA web site all UUA member congregations are asked to complete Certification of Membership each year, between November 15 and the end of the business day on February 1. The statistical and membership data that Unitarian*Universalist congregations supply to the UUA during this annual process determines the number of delegates that each Unitarian*Universalist congregation can send to General Assembly, among other things. . . It seems to me that this caveat would tend to tempt Unitarian*Universalist congregations, fellowships and "churches" to inflate their own individual membership statistics in order to maximize the number of delegates that they may send to the Unitarian*Universalist Association of Congregations General Assembly aka UUA GA each year.
One thing is quite certain, the membership statistics of individual Unitarian*Universalist congregations represents total membership levels of all signed-up adult members in good standing, as well as the total annual enrollment in their Religious Education aka RE programs for children and youth. The actual number of people regularly attending "church" services at Unitarian*Universalist congregations or showing up to U*U RE is likely to be significantly lower than the membership and RE enrollment totals that are reported to the UUA each year.
The official UUA membership statistics for the 1999-2000 "church" year report a total of 1,051 U*U "churches" aka Unitarian*Universalist congregations, with 155, 449 adult U*Us, and 61,482 RE enrollments. Statistics for U*U ministers in fellowship are not available for the 1999-2000 "church" year but the 1998-1999 statistics reported that there were 1,445 fellowshipped Unitarian*Universalist ministers. Presumably the figure did not change much over the course of one year. Concerned members of the "tiny fringe religion" known as Unitarian*Universalism may wish to compare those near decade old official UUA membership statistics with those of 1961 when the American Unitarian Association merged with the Universalist Church of America to form the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations aka the UUA.
Official UUA statistics for the 1961 "church" year reported a total of 1,035 U*U "churches", only 16 fewer than the number of U*U "churches" in 2000. 1961 adult membership was 151,557 members. So, over the course of nearly 40 years, the Unitarian*Universalist religious community "grew" by 16 "churches" and a whopping 4000 members. In 1961 RE enrollments were 77,546 children and youths, about 15,000 more RE enrollments than 40 years down the road. In 1961 there were 856 Unitarian Universalist ministers in fellowship. That is 589 fewer fellowshipped Unitarian Universalist clergy than in 1999. I seem to recall saying that there appears to be something of a surplus of Unitarian Universalist ministers recently. . .
One very interesting financial statistic that is provided in these official UUA statistics is congregational expenses measured in millions of dollars. I presume that these are the total expenses of all of the individual member congregations of the UUA, and thus do not reflect the multi-million dollar budget of the UUA "corporate headquarters" at 25 Beacon Street in Boston. Total congregational expenses for the 1,o35 U*U congregations of 1961 were $10,500,000.00. By the 1999-2000 "church" year total congregational expenses for 1,051 U*U congregations (only 16 more than in 1961) had reached $152,700,000.00. U*Us do the math. . .
Allow me to help U*Us along a bit. The official UUA statistics very conveniently provide congregational expenses in 1998 dollars so that they may be compared to each other over the full range of years from 1961 to 1999-2000. 1961's $10.5 million worth of congregational expenses thus becomes $59.5 million in 1998 dollars. So between 1961 and 1999-2000 congregational expenses more than doubled if measured in 1998 dollars. Now U*Us may understand why it is that more and more U*U ministers and lay leaders are now asking U*Us to double their pledges from the former recommended 5% of their annual income to 10% of their annual income aka a tithe. . .
Getting back to the UUA's official membership statistics there is now a seven year gap between the last publicly available UUA statistics for the 1999-2000 "church" year and the 2007-2008 U*U "church" year. In that U*U "church records" are "open to scrutiny" U*Us who care about the current state of health of their "tiny fringe religion" might be very well advised to mind that gap and ask the UUA to provide some updated official statistics that fill in that gap with membership levels and financial figures that cover the period from 2000 until 2008. It is well within possibility that the Unitarian*Universalist religion aka the U*U "church" is an even tinier fringe religion than it was at the turn of the second millennium of the monotheistic religion that it devolved from. . .