A new fellowship: a thoughts and an outline

I was thinking there were lessons — good and cautionary — when I read the fifty-year-old Whittier (Ca.) Havurah, the first Jewish “fellowship” (one translation for ḥavurah) was winding up its affairs. (Jewish Daily Forward, “Whittier Celebrates the Last Hurrah of America’s First Havurah,” July 13, 2011) Generation-locked, under-organized, perhaps too inventive being the downsides of youth-oriented, free and creative. Little wonder many of the newer ḥavurot blend orthodoxy, egalitarianism, participation and tradition in a way that’s neither/nor, and not Whittier’s model but still new. I’d seek one out — D.C. has its choices — were I Jewish.

I’ve written how this movement (and here) has appealed to me, so I won’t labor that. Instead, I’ll lift up Kim Hampton’s pointed “who’s planting?” concern. Sure it would be nice if there were different kind of church planting and all were well funded. So whether the desired form of church, or the best under the circumstances, consider:

  • a congregation of twelve to twenty that aspired to well-crafted worship, individualized spiritual development and mobilizing a pool of helpers to accomplish social ministry.
  • where worship is something shared between the members and had wide participation as a stated value.
  • not affiliating with the Unitarian Universalist Association, but staying in communication with the district and nearest congregations, and in other ways minimize administration
  • assisting new, like groups spring up in unlikely places or among unlikely populations.
  • develop its own leadership, but cooperatively develop the resources to do so.
  • be prepared to disband — as an option, not a failure — when and if the times demand.

 

 

About Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 44, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

One thought on “A new fellowship: a thoughts and an outline

  1. Scott — that’s interesting that the Jewish analogue to UU fellowships died in Whittier CA.

    A dear family friend relocated to Whittier a few years ago so she could be closer to the grandchildren.

    She said that the UU fellowship in Whittier had about 10 members and met 1-2 times per week. It sounded like it was on its last legs — almost dead.

    She decided to drive a few miles further and attended UU services in Fullerton instead.

    Whittier has about 85,000 in population. That should be enough to support a 50-100 person UU fellowship (assuming approximately 9 UU per 10,000 population). A ten person fellowship on its last legs is under-serving this area.

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