Friday morning is coffee morning so hello to church people again after Hucklow (although one came to my house this week to try whistling over a CD track and recording it). I passed on messages and comments unless there was a ring of confidentiality about them.
There was an interesting comment. How come a body dealing with publicity calls itself UCCN? It means nothing to anyone reading the letters and is a mouthful when given in its constitutive words. Why not call it the Publicity Group having its annual publicity workshops weekend? It is as if it does not take its own advice.
The other layer to these gatherings is simply the exchange of experiences and reports, and a good heap of gossip. How come some churches are doing very well. We know that Kingswood does well to start with because the locality has features of a community and then both nearby churches are evangelical. So the Unitarian church has, in effect, become the parish church. It is run on moderate and not over dedicated liberal Christian lines, so that there is a focus, and of course its (I was told) very hard working minister (as happens when there are a lot of people) gives the place consistency. The other way to do it, I would suppose, is for a church to acquire a particular identity, so it might serve one or more of the marginalised groups in respect of other churches. This happens occasionally, but the demographics in one place are only ever evolving. In many places people bring in their friends and we know how a church on the brink of closure one minute can get lucky, have someone new in, and suddenly there is a bounce. If that doesn't happen, then the church is in trouble.
There is some debate about people coming through the door first time. Our latest newcomer is unusual in that he is already informed about Unitarianism, particularly in America, but he has not been involved before. Previously our Muslim attender, now home to Iran, came through the door by random. Most people seem to, although the point was made at Hucklow that it takes a geat deal of courage to come in to a group that may be peculiar. After all, Unitarianism is mainly unknown, and then many a written definition gives it a doctrinal definition and this is completely out of date. The Internet makes a lot of difference these days, but it then falls on the actual churches and chapels to act in accordance with the publicity. If the publicity speaks of welcome and diversity, but a church is grumpy and narrow, the door will become revolving.
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