Friday, February 26, 2010

Do the people at First Unitarian Society at Madison have balls bigger than an elephant?

"The First Unitarian Society of Madison has for better than two decades presented a countercultural message and has seen our membership triple, our giving increase fivefold, and our stature in the larger community rise to new heights. Our members appreciate the fact that we push the envelope and are not just another conventionally cautious and uncontroversial church."

Rev. Michael Schuler, "Transformation", The Growing Church p. 12

When I spoke truth to power a couple of weeks ago one of my colleagues wrote me an email and wrote, "Dave, you have balls bigger than elephant!"

Let me assure you that this is not the truth literally, and I wonder if it is true even metaphorically. What it takes to develop the kind of church which Rev. Schuler has lead is not the leadership but the followership.

Will the people support the faith and leadership of a challenging pastor and board which decides to take on the establishment advocating for love in our modern world?

It takes tremendous courage and faith to advocate for love instead of discrimination when it comes to gay marriage, and nonviolence instead of militarization when it comes to national security, and entitlements instead of greed when it comes to income inequality in the United States, and rationing instead of gluttony when it comes to the use of earth warming chemicals.

The culture is fear based. It strives to protect the privilege of the rich and powerful. Society strives to protect the status quo. It tends to be conservative. Those who would challenge the status quo and would advocate and work for positive change are quickly labeled traitorous, a threat, or marginalized as being mentally ill.

Schuler and his congregation in Madison are to be admired and congratulated. Of course, Madison is already a very liberal area, but Marlin Lavenhar has done a similar thing in Tulsa, Oklahoma of all places.

So church being about the transformative voice and works to improve society for all is an intriguing idea. What does your church do to make your community a better place for all?


  1. Madison is an enclave; try getting as many members in a rustbelt town or in the deep south-or among non-whites/people who didn't go to college.
    "Liberals in a Liberal College Town give money to Liberal Organization" is about as much news as "Dog sniffs other Dog."

  2. "Unitarianism-another thing White People Like"
    "Unitarianism-NPR at prayer"
    "Unitarianism-when even the UCC and Episcopalians just aren't enough!"

  3. Just FYI. There are very large UU congregations in Milwuakee, WI (rust belt), Tulsa OK (Bible belt), and Dallas TX (Deep South). In addition, All Souls in Washington DC is quite diverse


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