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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

How blue are the communities with UU churches?

Ask and you shall receive! Andy McIntire has combined the 2004 county-by-county U.S. presidential results with the zip codes of the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association to produce a map showing how blue the communities with UU congregations really are. The map itself in a 900K+ pdf, but it's well worth examining. I wonder what it shows.

If such a map could integrate yet another level of detail, what would you want to know? I imagine incorporating the number of reported members of each congregation — to show UU density by county. (Are we bigger in true-blue counties? Or perhaps we grow faster in reddish purple counties?) We could look at rates of membership growth, too, although I'm not sure what that would really illustrate. Other socioeconomic indicators would be interesting: Average home price by county, average income by county, number of college students per county. What would you love to see on such a map? And where does it suggest new opportunities?

(I also have this dream of someday having an academy of UU infographics people. If you want to nominate yourself to join Andy in its illustrious ranks, let me know. And way to go, Andy!)

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 23 August 2005 at 10:07 PM

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5 comments:

fausto:

August 24, 2005 07:37 AM | Permalink for this comment

One thing seems evident: studies like this would yield great info for promising places to plant new churches, but the UUA isn't doing this or much of the other the nuts-and-bolts work it would need to do to grow new congregations.

Which in turn begs the question: why not?

Mike:

August 24, 2005 12:04 PM | Permalink for this comment

Fausto, we disagreed on the moral issue, but I agree 100% on that. Where I used to live in fundy land the 1st buildings in a new development were the AOG mega barn and a tastefull Methodist church. We wait until all the cheap land is developed and throw up our hands and rent a tacky store front.

MIke:

August 24, 2005 12:14 PM | Permalink for this comment

Why not? I think we spend too much time arguing and studying and not doing. We will spend time and effort to answer questions where the answers are obvious but may offend a tiny constituency. For example, YRUU. Should YRUU be expected to support general UU? Of course, otherwise they are YRKHODWIFs. (Young Rowdy Kids Hanging Out and Doing what is Fun. But we'll have committees and teeth nashing ad nasuem.
Should we support GLBT's. Of course. Should we be racist? No. All these things that get hashed and re-hashed.

Steven R:

August 25, 2005 08:02 AM | Permalink for this comment

Hmm, noticing that in the Carolinas, most of the UU Churches are in Bush Country (except for Columbia, Charlotte and Durham); the reason for that is - not that the Kerry land is liberal - but that it is poor and rural. Not a good match for the current New UU of urbanites.

the problem with the UUA and church planting is that the A in UUA stands for Association. We are technically not a denomination. Some would argue (and as UUs, we like to argue) that we have the worst aspects of a denomination and the worst ascpects of an association all combined into one....

Leo Karpeles:

August 25, 2005 11:20 PM | Permalink for this comment

I composed a moderately long comment describing how the US Census can be accessed and used as a source of a lot of info. I have used it to estimate the distribution of incomes and the aggregate income within my congregation. I find that our average pledge is less than 2% of total income, whereas our nominal goal is 5%. (If we ever achieved this goal, I wonder how we would spend the money?) If anyone wants to know how this info is collected, I can provide details. Leo



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