Again with the Freerangers?

I’m still gnawing on this bone.

Peter Bowden drew my attention to a current UUA effort to grasp the circumstances surrounding freerange UUs. Please share this survey as widely as you can. (Note: this was a 2011 thing. -SM Jan. 10, 2019.)

Here’s the announcement from the Blue Boat youth and young adult ministries blog:

The UUA Office of Growth Strategies is seeking to better understand Unitarian Universalism outside our congregations. If you’re a “Free-Range Unitarian Universalist,” please take this survey. If you’re active in a congregation, but know people who aren’t, but identify as Unitarian Universalist, please pass this on to them. Thank you!! Help me transform the way we live into our faith!

In faith, Tandi

Tandi Rogers is the Growth Strategy Specialist at The UUA Office of Growth Strategies.  She can be reached at trogers at

While I’m all for the idea of freerange UUs, and want to stress that they’re not a problem as such, the existence of freerangers highlights a core UU identity problem, which many others have discussed, but which I’ve only recently had pointed out to me. Again by Peter Bowden.

That UU identity problem is this: what is the UUA? Legally it’s the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. Sort of like a Chamber of Commerce. Each congregation remains its own thing, but through the shared Principals and Sources, covenants to … be together.

Catch that? Congregations. But congregations are made up of people, and only people can read the six sources, and only people can act on the seven principles. Sometimes those people do that with the support of a congregation. But sometimes, for any of many reasons (some of which Peter notes), individuals find themselves acting like Unitarian-Universalists, even without the support of a congregation.

That’s when a more nuanced question arises. Somewhere (possibly in the archives of Liberal Faith Development–can someone recommend a good way to organize interesting web pages for later review?), I recently read about the question: did consolidation create a new religion, or was it merely a merger of two organizations? Somehow in my previous What Does it Mean to be a Unitarian Universalist posts that question never occurred to me. Not as such, anyway; on review, I can see that I assumed that it had created a new religion, and that over the last 50 years that new religion has been feeling itself out, and finding its way of being in the world.

Meanwhile, people have been going on their merry way, being Unitarian-Universalists as best they can. Sometimes that works out pretty well, especially for those in healthy congregations and in like-minded groupings like UUSC or the UUCF. Sometimes not so well, like when individuals find themselves talking so much trying to explain UUism that people’s eyes (even their own) glaze over.

Like now.

(Note on old UU posts.)

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