Go South, dear colleague, go south!

8 Jan

When I was in search for a congregation a few years ago, a number of my colleagues expressed surprise when I shared the area of the country I was most interested in. I had no desire to go to New England, nor to the Pacific Coast. Instead, I was looking for something in the South. “Isn’t our faith most needed in places where liberalism is so far from the norm?” I thought.  I was surprised at the prejudice that I heard from my colleagues.

I can’t help but feel a bit vindicated reading the new Metrics Dashboard contained in the January UUA Board packet. This brief document, full of helpful graphics, shows that, over the past 10 years, the South has been a growing hotbed for Unitarian Universalism. Check out page 2:

10 Year Comparison by Region

Between 2004 and 2014, the number of members of UU congregations, and the number of kids enrolled in our RE programs (detailed on the first page, not included here) has remained virtually the same. But a look at the chart above shows that this stasis has not been the same across the country. Some regions, like New England and the Central East region, have dropped in both adult and children participation. The MidAmerica region and Pacific West have grown slightly in adult participation, but dropped in children’s participation. Only the Southern region has gained in both adult and children participation over the last 10 years.

In the mid-19th century, Unitarian Horace Greeley is said to have declared “Go west, young man, go west.” Updated for today, let me say “Go south, dear colleague, go south!”

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