It is also the area of the slowest growth for Unitarian Universalism; in fact, the number of UU's in New England is declining.
Consider this. The proportion nationally of religiously unaffiliated is about 16%. In Massachusetts, it is about 17%. In all of the other New England states it is significantly higher, ranging from 23% in CT and RI, 25% in Maine and 26% in NH/VT.
Unitarian Universalism is not growing but shrinking as the number of religiously unaffiliated is growing. To the religiously unaffiliated, we are not a solution, but a part of the problem.
And consider this: as opposed to most of the rest of the country, Unitarian Universalist institutions are common and easily available. UU churches are almost as ubiquitous as Dunkin Donuts. We have a branch within easy driving distance for most of the population of New England. We also have a history; lots of people know us already.
Unitarian Universalism has a problem in New England, and it is a different problem than UUism faces in most of the country.
I reminded of one of the first internet meme, "We are in your base, killing your doodz." (Why that was once considered hilarious escapes me now.) But UUism is declining in its base.
I don't have a real analysis, nor a solution to suggest. But New England Unitarian Universalists need to start strategizing about what we have to offer in this specific cultural context.
One area of inquiry should be understanding the discontent of Roman Catholics in New England. It may be that rising number of religiously unaffiliated are people leaving the Catholic church for institutional reasons. Contrast this with people becoming unaffiliated because of theological disagreements with conservative Protestantism. Or people leaving the mainstream of the mainline because it is too establishment.
Another area of inquiry has to be the implications of many small churches, each with an expensive building to maintain. This is a different problem than what UUism faces in other parts of the country.
Another area of inquiry is the town vs suburb difference in many New England towns. The UU church is often in the center of the old historic town -- on the town green. Yet the population growth is in newer suburban-type subdivisions often near highways.
Unitarian Universalism, you would think, is a good fit for New England. So what is it that we are not getting about the spiritual needs of our neighbors that would prevent us from serving more and more of them?