Organizational Progression (or Regression)


When we lived in New York, Cheryl and I were members of the local Sertoma Club, an international service organization. We did various charitable activities that enriched the community. Our meetings usually included interesting speakers, and we put on an annual banquet to present awards to community members who provided service to mankind (which is where the name Sertoma comes from). When we joined, the club membership was down from prior years before several industries left town, but we were still able to conduct charitable activities. As time went by, people moved away or just decided to not be in a service club anymore. New members were rare, and thus, the membership dwindled. Eventually, all we did was get together for dinner every week, which then became twice a month. Not long after we moved to Tennessee, the club folded.


Organizations can grow in numbers and see their role expand, but they can also diminish and cease to exist. That includes churches. Last month, I wrote about a local church that recently jumped into the "mega" category. But, for various reasons, there are also those that go in the opposite direction, much like our old Sertoma Club. I would guess that declining membership and financial support probably leads to the decline and fall of many churches, whether it's due to people moving to other churches that appeal to them more, disagreement with the minister or other leaders, or perhaps, disinterest in being part of a church at all.

Could such a thing happen at Westside? I certainly hope not, but the possibility still exists - hovering like a menacing, dark cloud, waiting to rain on our parade. We are currently undergoing a surge in new faces and associated participation in various areas of the church, including adult and children's RE and attendance at Sunday services. In many ways, things are looking good. Yet, we have losses from the congregation due to former members moving away or just stop coming. There's also the issue of people not wanting to fill vital volunteer roles. Some of this can be attributed to people who have done so much over the years that they just want to back away and let others carry the burden. That is completely understandable. We don't want to burn out volunteers. But, many tasks need to be done.

And then there's the issue of money. Right now, it looks like we are going to be woefully short of our pledge target for the upcoming fiscal year. In fact, we may be fairly short on projected income for the current year. Almost all of our budget goes toward the essentials of keeping the church going; mortgage, utilities, insurance, and personnel. If you think we could do without some personnel, remember we have enough trouble getting volunteers for other roles that take a lot less time and effort than what our staff puts in.

I hope you value Westside as much as I do and view it as an important part of your life - one that you want to stay around and be a place to come to forever. It can not only provide service to mankind, but it can enrich the lives of us all.


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Westside Unitarian Universalist Church

616 Fretz Road

Knoxville, TN 37934

(865) 777-9882

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