This past month the staff attempted to better understand who the congregation is (and who we are not) through data and reflection. We found these numbers to not only be interesting but helpful in thinking about our UUCWC community, our assumptions, relationships, and needs.
Our system currently serves 285 Members, 30 Friends,* 46 Participants and 18 Attendees, or a total of 379 adults. Additionally, we have about 50-60 visitors** each year who complete our visitor forms and sign up for email announcements; to date 150 visitors from 2016-present receive these announcements and are invited regularly to Roots and Wings.
*Friends: people who express a financial commitment but are not signed Members
**Visitors who sign the connection card
Considering the months of August and September, our attendance compared to previous years (the start of the church year) is up:
2017 – 159
2016 – 138
2015 – 137
We have 103 children and youth registered for Religious Education, and 42 Teachers who make this program possible. 14 of those 42 teachers (33%) are adults who do not have children enrolled in the RE program.
There are 63 members and non-members enrolled in our 9 Adult Religious Education classes this fall. 7 of the 8 members of the Adult Religious Education Committee are new to leadership and new to the congregation within the last 3 years.
The Choir has 21 members. 2 are returning after time away; 4 are new and not yet members.
For the last four sessions of Faith Forward, we have had an average of 12 people attend each session. New folks, most who started coming this summer, are enthusiastic learners; eager to join the membership; and collectively speak of being on a “spiritual journey”.
We have at least 33 committees or ministries. This fall there are new leaders chairing 6 of these groups: Nominating, Racial Justice Steering Committee, Council for Faith in Action, Right Relations Committee, Human Relations (previously Personnel).
A Review of Membership
A review of the length of membership of our 285 members reveals that 33% have joined in the past 5 years (31% of them since Rev. Kim’s arrival). Those who signed the membership book 5-10 years ago make up 16% of the congregation, and another 15% are in the 10-15 year category, or a total of 31% who signed between 5-15 years ago. There are 12% who signed 15-20 years ago, leaving 23% who signed 21 or more years ago, or a total of 35% here for 15 years or more.
A review of the length of membership of our 285 members reveals the following statistics:
[table id=3 /]
Rev. Kim Wildszewski (4 years) 31%
Rev. Jennifer Brooks (2 years/interim) 5%
Rev. Charles Stephens (15 years) 44%
Rev. Carolyn Colbert (18 mos./interim) 5%
Rev. Linda DeSantis (5.5 years) 8%
Peter Jenkins (4 years) 4%
Rev. Deborah Pope-Lance (5 years) 1%
Rev. Carl Bierman (16 years) 2%
What might this mean?
To our shared and overarching Board goal of Enhancing Ownership and Engagement, it is clear that we have a solid culture of engagement and, at least in looking at potential new members, systems that invite newcomers and long term members into ownership (ie, Faith Forward). The former is a strength and the latter is something to nurture.
If we think about the membership numbers more generally, the rough breakout is that about 1/3 of the congregation has been here 5 or less years, 1/3 has been here for 5-15 years, and 1/3 has been here longer than 15 years, with 49% of the members here for 10 years or less.
These numbers may help us in thinking about the congregation
For example, 1/3 of the membership was not here for the Strategic Five-Year Plan.
Worth noting is that there are differences in what folks mean when they refer to “long term members” and “newcomers.” These numbers may help how we think about these groups and how many people are in these categories.
Also important to note is the rate or “steepness” of growth has an effect on the congregation as a whole.
Understanding that the tone and language of the community is often set by the minister, members reflect (to some degree) the tone and language of the minister under whom they signed. Therefore, change can be felt more drastically (or less celebratorily) when not only the minister but an influx of new members is representative of a shift from how things were.
Rev. Kimberly Wilszewksi