- Be visible! My favorite way to achieve visibility is through charity work, but there are lots of ways to do it. Send your youth group out to do carwashes. Buy 100 attractive Chalice pins and give them away to everybody in your congregation willing to talk up UUism to people who ask about the pin. Help people, make them happy and get on the news doing it. Frankly, UUism never looked so good as it did on news broadcasts of gay weddings in Massachusetts. Run a day care, work for meals on wheels, build a house for habitat and get on the news. Whatevers. But do things. We’ve never recruited a single member while sitting in a meeting room and bitching.
My least favorite way of being visible is to protest something. Even if people agree with what you’re protesting about, you still look cranky and unhappy when people actually see you. Cranky and unhappy does not make a person say “Gee, I want to join those guys!”
- Talk about freedom, early and often There’s nothing wrong with sounding Christian, but make it clear what UUism has to offer that is unique. Talk about freedom, talk about reason, don’t talk about the seven principles. Focus on what makes us different.
- Talk about fatih Talk about belief, talk about theology, and get everyone talking about it. As they get comfortable doing so, they will talk to their friends. And their friends will show up.
- Train everyone to use the phrase “well, I can’t tell you what UUs believe, but I can tell you what I believe…” because it is intriguing and because you know some of your fellow UUs believe stupid stuff.
- For God sakes, talk to newcomers Duh!
- Start a Newcomers’ hang out group in every church. Say, meeting for brunch after every service (well, the second services in big churches.) Invite all newcomers to brunch and make sure several long time members who are good company go each week. If newcomers make friends, they won’t leave.
- Pimp those famous UUs. People need to know that the guy who created The Simpsons is a UU. Christopher Reeve? A UU. The guy who discovered oxygen? UU. The congressman currently running newspaper ads mocking Randy “Duke” Cunningham? UU! Let the world know that UUs are very cool people. Focus on the wiseasses and rebels.
- Don’t pander to people of other races I’d like to have a more racially diverse UUA, too, but attempts to make this happen in any non-organic way just look pathetic. If we make things not suck, they will come.
That’s all I can think of for now.
"If we make things not suck, they will come."
I generally agree with your point, except for the ones about racial diversity. UUs are so much less racially diverse than the other Portestant denominations, and are generally lilly white even in large, mostly non-White cities.
Now, if you are saying that UUs go about trying to achieve diversity in the wrong way, then I would agree with you.
I alos think UU churches should be more active in general ecumenical groups in their communitities. SOmetimes they are, sometimes they aren't.
I really don't know a way to recruit people of other races without pandering.
If you have a good idea, have at it.
Right now there are lots of mostly-white places where people of color are making greater and greate inroads. As it stands now, I'm not sure that letting things happen naturally isn't the best way.
If we make UUism as good as it can possibly be, people of all types will come because it's good.
I don't know for sure what the answer is. I know that my beloved Brooklyn church once started a mission in inner city Brooklyn that was an attempt to tart a specifically black majority UU church. It was having some success until the dnomination refused to help with funding. (The idea of a black UU church with a blacvk minister, geared to th nds of a black community just wasn't in tune with the generally integrationist ideology of the denomination.
Obviously, training Spanish speaking clergymen and leaders and having Spanish speaking services in Hispanic areas would be an obvious idea.
I do think we need to do something. This problem may seem more acute to me than to you because my experience with UU churches has been mosstly in large cities with mostly nonwhit populations and lilly white congrgations.
Having a service in Spanish in highly-Hispanic areas is fine, though I think we already do that in many cases.
Washington DC is not known for its lack of African-Americans. And, yes, there aren't a lot of them in my church, though I think there are a few more of them in the church downtown. I think our experiences are similar.
The UUA had a HUGE fracas over whether being integrationists or specifically catering to the needs of African-Americans was the better way. As you observe, integrationism won.
Hmm..I think we are in agreement that past UU efforts at inclusion haven't worked, and probably, in fact were counterproductive. (Big exception seem to have been gays, where the denom very aggressively set out to recruit gay members and succeeded.)
We seem (correct me if I am wrong) to disagree as to whether the denom should ame conscious efforts to diversify. You thinkwe don't need to and that it will happen naturally if the demon just cuts dwon on its generl suckiness. I think they should probably do something, but I am not sure what an effective strategy would be.
Hvae I summarized our positions fairly?
Basically, I agree.
But I'm not even sure if our outreach program to gays and lesbians has worked all that well. Assuming gays and lesbians are ten percent of the population, we have way fewer than we should.
Ummm, get a creed? :)
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