Most congregations have fewer than 100 members, but most UUs belong to larger churches.
Illustration by Kathy Todd
The Unitarian Universalist Association distinguishes between five sizes of congregations. Although most congregations are small, 19 percent of all members belong to the 37 largest societies, which make up only 4 percent of all congregations. (In addition, more than 2 percent of the UUA’s members belong to a single congregation, the non-local Church of the Larger Fellowship.)* Twenty-four of these largest congregations are located east of the Mississippi River. Six states—Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Minnesota, Virginia, and Wisconsin—have three large congregations each.
There are more congregations in the UUA with fewer than 100 members than there are with more than 100 members. Because members are concentrated in the larger churches, however, most UUs attend a congregation with at least 250 members. Another way to think of this is that individual UUs are more likely to be familiar with mid-size to large congregations than small congregations, even though there are many more small congregations.
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* The UUA’s two largest congregations—the Church of the Larger Fellowship and the UU Church of the Philippines—are unique and are not included in this presentation. CLF, with 3,577 members, is a non-local congregation serving isolated UUs throughout the world. The UU Church of the Philippines, whose 2,235 members belong to its own 25 local congregations, is the only non-U.S. national church affiliated directly with the UUA. Click here to return to the story.
The membership data used in these charts was tabulated by Harlan Limpert for the UUA based on reports submitted in February 2011, which included 1,046 congregations and 159,251 members. Data prepared by Christopher L. Walton. Illustration by Kathy Todd.
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Christopher L. Walton is editor of UU World. He holds degrees from Harvard Divinity School and the University of Utah and is a member of the Church of the Larger Fellowship.
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