|Ponsonby's distinctive Unitarian church|
And yet they're in decline, losing 85% their young people.
In the US the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) turns 50 this year, though the separate strands that led to the merger in 1961 go back hundreds of years.
Unitarians were once a much greater force in New Zealand too, being one of the founding members of the (now defunct) National Council of Churches in 1941. (Alan Brash, a high profile Presbyterian minister and father of current Act Party leader Don Brash, served as General Secretary of the NCC for seventeen years.) Today most New Zealanders would know nothing about Unitarians. The only church left in the country is an old wooden structure in the well-heeled Auckland suburb of Ponsonby, now oversize for its small congregation. Small fellowship groups still meet in rented rooms in three other centres.
An article by Daniel Burke on RNS offers some observations on why this most liberal of faiths is failing to retain traction in these most liberal of times, and asks if they'll still be around in another fifty years.