Another interesting question from the UUA staff:
Are we entering a “post-denominational” world? What does that mean for our
faith as it relates to our Association?
It seems to me that our current religious landscape (no "entering" about this. It's here) is a landscape where very few people (and almost all over age 60) care about the differences between Methodists and Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Disciples and Northern Baptists. Nor do they care much about the differences between Southern Baptists and other conservative denominations like the Church of God. The Protestant landscape, it seems to me, has been reduced to the "Bible Believers" and the "Bible Interpretors", with the Episcopalians and Catholics standing a bit outside. (I know that Bibles Belivers do interpret. But they don't think they do.)
There are only a few UU churches who fit into this mash-up, and I don't think it is in our best interest to pretend that we do. I totally get it why you don't find a denominational label on the Willow Creek Megachurch. Their constituents don't care. They are a bible believing Christian church; that's all that matters.
Most UU churches, it seems to me, benefit from being much more forthcoming about their denominational label. Ours does signify something unique. Now, I'm all for our new churches having more contemporary sounding names than "First Unitarian Universalist", which is way too long anyway. But it's my humble opinion that we are best served by keeping our denominational affiliation as a second line.
When it comes to ministry and post-denominationalism, I think it is all to the good that many of our ministers are educated in "Bible Interpreter" seminaries. I was myself, and it was a rich experience. As a "stay inner" UU, it gave me an important opportunity to understand the religious landscape so many UU's come from. I taught me a lot about what makes us unique and in what ways we are just the same as everybody else. I believe that new ministers who are less steeped in UU culture do better in our denominational seminaries. But these days, most people make these decisions based on geography and financial aid. That's a reality we are not going to change.