The Unitarian Universalist Association Of Congregations Lost How Many UUA Congregations In The Last Two Years?
"It's not a secret that the Unitarian Universalist Association is NOT* growing."
This article is sub-titled 'Total membership falls 1.2 percent; UUA counts 51 emerging groups, handful of experimental communities.'
The second paragraph makes the following claim -
"The UUA's latest membership figures count 154,707 members in 1,024 congregations in the United States, a decline of 1.2 percent from last year. Another 3,479 members belong to 23 congregations in other countries, for a total of 158,186 members in 1,047 congregations worldwide. Children's religious education enrollment dropped 4.6 percent last year in the U.S., to 49,191."
So the UU World magazine is claiming that, at present in late March of 2014, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations has 1,024 congregations in the USA, however that claimed number of congregations is open to some good old Unitarian question in that the official number of certified UUA congregations is currently listed as only 990 UU congregations on the UUA's own Data Services web pages, and that total figure includes 9 International District congregations that are obviously not USA congregations. Ergo, according to the most recent UUA Data Services statistics, there are only 981 UUA congregations in the USA that are officially certified as UUA congregations. There is a discrepancy of no less than 43 UUA congregations between these two total figures for UUA congregations in the USA.
UUA Data Services currently lists 57 Unitarian Universalist Association congregations as "not certified". That total figure includes 14 International District congregations, leaving 43 USA congregations listed as being "not certified" as UUA congregations. If one adds these 43 currently "not certified" USA congregations to the 981 certified USA congregations, one arrives at the total of 1,024 USA congregations that the UU World is claiming that the UUA has, so it would seem to me that the UU World magazine, if not the UUA itself, is treating the currently "non certified" USA congregations as if they are actually certified. What if some of these currently "non certified" decide not to certify their membership in the UUA and drop out of it? Is the UU World being truthful and honest in publicly claiming that the UUA has 1,024 congregations in the USA when the UUA Data Services web page currently lists only 981 USA congregations as being certified UUA congregations?
The UU World magazine's claim that "the UUA's latest membership figures count 154,707 members in 1,024 congregations in the United States, a decline of 1.2 percent from last year" is apparently dependent upon including the individual adult membership statistics of ALL of the UUA's 43 USA congregations that have not yet (re)certified their membership in the UUA according to the Data Services web page. Surely the Data Services information, which has been updated fairly regularly since the February 3rd deadline for certification, represents "the UUA's latest membership figures". If so, the membership figure cited by the UU World magazine, which claims that the UUA has 154,707 adult members, is inaccurate and inflated by the number of adult members of the 43 non certified congregations. Likewise, the UU World's claim to the effect that "another 3,479 members belong to 23 congregations in other countries, for a total of 158,186 members in 1,047 congregations worldwide" is inflated by the 14 International District congregations that have not yet certified their membership in the UUA.
Even if we take these questionable, and apparently somewhat inflated, UUA membership statistics as being up-to-date and accurate, the fact remains that the UUA has 7 fewer congregations than it had two years ago in 2012 when it claimed to have 1,052 congregations. The UUA has lost more than 3,000 adult members in two years, in that it claimed to have 161,502 adult members in 2012. Even worse for the future of what UUA President Peter Morales himself has described as "a tiny, declining, fringe religion" is the report that "children's religious education enrollment dropped 4.6 percent last year in the U.S., to 49,191". This represents a loss of well over 4,000 RE enrollments within a two year period in that the UUA claimed that it had 53,776 children enrolled in UUA RE programs in 2012. The UUA currently has at least 12,000 fewer RE enrollments than it had a decade ago in 2004 when it claimed to have 61,722 RE enrollments.
The fact remains however that what the UU World claims are "the UUA's latest membership figures" appear not to be accurate, especially if one accepts that the membership figures posted publicly on the UUA's own Data Services web site are the real "latest membership figures". If we accept that the number of certified UUA congregations listed on this Data Services web page is reasonably up-to-date and accurate, the UUA has only 981 certified congregations in the USA and only 9 certified International District congregations, for a not so grand total of 990 UUA congregations as of March 24, 2014. This is no less than 64 certified UUA congregations fewer than the UUA claimed to have in 2012. No doubt some of the as yet "non certified" UUA congregations will eventually get around to re-certifying their membership in the UUA, but I have reasonable grounds to believe that some of the currently non certified UUA congregations will chose the fate of remaining non-certified and will either drop out of the UUA or shut down completely.
I take note of the fact that the UU World magazine article explicitly states that,
"A congregation must have 30 members to become a UUA-certified congregation."
yet well over 10% of currently certified UUA congregations have fewer than 30 adult members according to the Data Services information for 2014. Needless to say these congregations fell below 30 adult members after previously being certified as UUA congregations, but if they were disqualified as certified UUA congregations due to falling below 30 members the UUA would no longer be able to claim to have over 1000 congregations in the USA. In fact, as it currently stands according to publicly available Data Services UUA membership statistics, the UUA has fewer than 1000 certified congregations in the USA even with those congregations that have fewer than 30 adult members included in the total. If these congregations were subtracted from the current statistics the UUA would have fewer than 900 congregations at present.
Wasn't UUA President Peter Morales' election platform all about growth, and about how he was the UUA presidential candidate who would transform Unitarian Universalism from "a tiny, declining, fringe religion" into "the religion for our time"?
Just asking. . .
* My emphasis ;-)