A New Vision?

By Chris Edkins, President of the Board of Trustees



In early November the Board of Trustees and the Committee on Ministry gathered to hear about and discuss a report by Carey McDonald. The report, called “Future of Faith: Unitarian Universalism and the Millennial Generation”, was written in 2013 when Carey was the UUA Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Carey is now the Executive Vice president of the UUA.


Overall church attendance is declining across all denominations. Atheist and agnostics in the millennial generations are seeking community away from church-like settings. Those who are attending church are looking for either a vital spiritual experience or a more action-oriented community, rather than the support of like-minded individuals that I sought in coming to WUUC 16 years ago. All this means a high probability of shrinking attendance and membership as Westside over the long term.


We discussed a number of possible changes we could make to help our case. Rev. Carol noted that our membership retention right now is more weighted toward retiree age members. By further focusing our energies on meeting the needs of older members we could avoid the changes necessary to appeal to potential younger members, in the medium term.


The group also discussed WUUC’s strengths in Earth-based spirituality and climate change justice, with a view to becoming known as a missional church in this area of our values. Rev. Carol perceives a pent-up demand for more Earth-based spiritual activities in our local community, and our more scientifically oriented members are on board with combating climate change. A good synergy.



As a next step the group agreed to invite Laura Bogle to speak to us about the Foothills UU congregation, which has emerged as a missional UU congregation in our area. In exchange we would share our experiences on the pros and cons of owning a building and land.


Of course, before making any changes, these issues will be brought before the congregation for consideration, in keeping with our commitment to the democratic process and a desire to move forward together as a loving community that honors the voices of our members and friends.


Happy Thanksgiving!


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Westside Unitarian Universalist Church

616 Fretz Road

Knoxville, TN 37934

(865) 777-9882

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