Phil is perceptive again but what is next?

Philocrites puts a name to the long standing "parties" in UU politics: the "denominationalists" and the "congregationalists." These have been evident to me ever since I came back into Unitarian Universalism in 1989, after a 20 year absence. But this understanding of the competing groups is an elaboration and outgrowth of older contradictions.
I rejoice in the apparent victory of the "congregationalists". I think that it is super that the Board, the officers and the staff now remember that the role of the association is to serve the congregations. I have been pleased to see that the Commission on Social Witness process gives much, much, much more weight to the participation of congregations in developing our public stances and public ministry.
What comes next? Two things: one is looking beneath the rhetoric to where the power actually goes as processes change. The second is understanding how "congregationalism" means empowering the lay leaders of congregations in the national sphere vs. developing the leadership in the national sphere of the ministers of successful congregations. The rhetoric of "congregationalism" could and does mean both and either.


  1. I realize that there is a history here, but personally I don't see this as "either/or." If it's done right, it's "both/and." Strengthening the denomination should empower congregations, and strengthening congregations should empower the denomination.

  2. Really, it's all in the history of it. There should be no irreconcilable contradiction between the congregations and the denomination. What happened was that various theological, cultural and religious differences with the entire Unitarian Universalist religious tendency got clustered in these two organizational locations. Other questions then got turned into organizational and institutional issues. History works out that way. The problem is not to be trapped in it.


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