If in the micropolitan — soon to include metropolitan — data series I make no other impression, let it be this: Unitarian Universalists, in their different theological stripes, are made not found. Anyone can become a Unitarian Universalist; we need not wait for some unbidden force to convince the stranger that he or she belongs. If might be easier so to do: it helps preserve our historic class prestige, takes less effort and invites fewer conflicts over resources or self-identity. It is, of course, unfaithful and self-defeating, as evidenced by our years of stagnant membership and institutions.
Further, not only may Unitarian Universalists be found anywhere, but (generally speaking) congregations may be gathered anywhere. While I have been an open critic of a creeping form of congregational fundamentalism that’s taken hold in Unitarian Universalist circles, I would agree that it is our basic locus of discipleship. Unitarian Universalists are made, and are usually made in congregations.
Congregations may be found just about anywhere, but that does not mean that we can expect them to follow a common kind of success. In low population areas, just keeping a congregation together — with occasional worship, a ministry of personal support and some kind of enriching faith sharing — might be success, and worthy of attention, even praise. And so the second take-away, if we really think we have something worth sharing, it needs to be available where people are. First, in their own towns. But also, in their own class and culure, language and expectations.