Multi-Site Ministry at Piedmont UU Church
Gatherings in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Salisbury, North Carolina
Multi-Site ministry is a movement in Unitarian Universalism that seeks to create opportunities for Unitarian Universalist community through ongoing connection with a congregation that serves as a primary site or hub. Piedmont UU Church began its first gathering in 2012 in Salisbury, North Carolina. Salisbury is a small southern town 45 minutes north of Charlotte. Currently, the gathering is about 30 adult members and 12 children. When Piedmont UU Church began the Salisbury Gathering they re-named their main location to be the University Gathering. Thus, we talk about being a congregation gathered in two places. The primary benefit is the ability to extend Unitarian Universalist community to a small Southern town that without the larger organization of Piedmont UU Church would not be able to have weekly services, religious education, small group ministry or pastoral care. Members of either the Salisbury or University Gatherings are full members in the Piedmont UU Church.
In April of 2016, the Piedmont UU Church was asked to consider exploring a gathering relationship with an existing Unitarian Universalist community, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Lake Norman. To date, the Piedmont UU Church board committed to an exploratory process which began in September 2016 and is set to conclude in February of 2017 with subsequent evaluation. The Lake Norman UU Fellowship is a a young and growing congregation that formed in 2009 in Davidson, although its members and friends come from across the Lake Norman region. We are hoping to ascertain if like, the Salisbury Gathering, we might discover the gathering model to be a sustainable way to extend Unitarian Universalism across the Piedmont. So far, it has created a system in which multiple ministers are able to work together to create quality worship and programs across three sites while also providing learning and growth opportunities for the leadership in each location. Piedmont’s role in multi-site ministry is a strong example of the adaptive, experimental nature of its leadership and their ability to create shared ministry with ordained ministers.