UUA triennial conference.
Activities included worship led by the Rev. Stefan Jonasson, the UUA's
coordinator of services for large congregations, workshops, and a keynote
presentation on building social capital by author Don Cohen. Perhaps most
important, Jonasson said, the conference gave large congregation leaders
a chance to learn from each other and develop interchurch relationships.
Jonasson said that out of the 1,039 UU congregations, the 40 large congregations
account for almost 20 percent of our total church membership. The number
of large churches in the UUA has hovered between 37 and 43 for two decades,
Jonasson said, but the national trend is toward larger churches and he
expects that number to exceed 50 by the end of the decade.
While the number of small churches continues to decline each year in
most religious denominations, Jonasson said, midsize churches, which many
experts believe will dramatically decline in number during the coming
generation, feel the greatest strain. "American culture seems to favor
both large institutions (which offer quality, relevance, and choices)
and smaller ones (which offer intimacy and familiarity),"; he said. "It
is midsize institutions that have a harder time defining their place."
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