There’s no such thing as a free-range UU. I took the position that one must be a member of a congregation to be UU at the end of my “What does it mean…” series. Looking at the way the terms are defined and cross-referenced, it seems to me that the only way to be UU is to be a member of a congregation that’s accepted as part of the UUA.
I don’t like such a hard-edged opinion, even if it has the same sort of hard edge as a snuggly down comforter: warm, generally comfortable, and–while not difficult to find–difficult to actually pin down.
But my opinion is not that to be UU, one has to belive X, Y, or Z, or durf, qrtsh, or 8igw:. Or anything. One just has to accept the congregation one is in, and be in a congregation that’s in the UUA.
I don’t even have any particular prejudicial conception of what a congregation has to be. Could there be a congregation of One? (Given the unitarian heritage of the UUA, it seems it should be possible…) Conceptually, I’d have to say–yeah, of course. It’s far from my place to say how there might be a single-individual congregation that could meet standards of UUA associationalism (to make up a word). And doesn’t ‘congregation’ mean, at least in part, ‘more than one?’
There’s already the Church of the Larger Fellowship, so there’s no conceptual reason why there can’t be congregations of membership rather than gathering. To use a dumb-ass model as an example, Blackboard (which some universities use to supplement or substitute for classroom interaction) makes it possible for congregations (if you will) to meet and do their missional work. Which means the obstacles to individuals joining congregations are circumstantial rather than conceptual. On the one side of the relationship maybe the UUA isn’t properly positioned as an organization to cope with congregations that don’t meet someplace. On the other side, maybe notional-but-unaffiliated ‘UUs’ aren’t finding membership congregations because there’s not enough outreach, or they’re not looking to join a congregation of any type (so outreach wouldn’t work), or who-knows?
So correct me. Help me see a way that an individual, outside of a congregation, can be a UU in a way that doesn’t make a hash of what it means to be UU. And in what way is the UUA currently unable to cope with “congregations of membership without place” as opposed to typical congregations?