The Breakthrough Congregation program, retired in 2019, highlighted congregational stories of innovation and growth. Although these stories are not fresh, there are still insights and ideas for today's congregations.
- DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church of Naperville, IL's SMILE project is a terrific model for leading effective change and breaking down barriers in communities.
- The First Religious Society of Carlisle, MA's RE program takes RE beyond concepts and discussion and invites students to experience their own agency and live out their Unitarian Universalist values in a way that can be truly transformative.
- Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston, VA's leadership on the first PRIDE event in their community is groundbreaking work that inspired participation in the congregation as well as from neighboring faith communities.
- UU Fellowship of Athens, GA is utilizing volunteer staff across generations, honoring their gifts and skills for congregational work.
- First Unitarian Church of Oakland, CA has ground-breaking adaptation of religious education to meet the changing needs of their families.
- All Souls UU in Bellville, OH chose to overcome their fear and embrace the call of our faith to support the anti-racism work taking place in their community.
- UU Cong of Greater Lansing, MI is doing exciting cross-cultural work with the local Muslim community and has found vibrant ways to live our faith in partnership with them.
An earlier iteration of the Breakthrough Congregations program included congregations selected by the Unitarian Universalist Association's Growth Team on an annual basis. Each congregation shared their story at General Assembly via a video.
Harlan Limpert, Vice President of Ministries and Congregational Support, introduced breakthrough congregations at the 2011 General Assembly this way:
When President Peter Morales talks about the role the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) staff can play in the life of congregations, he sometimes says he wishes the UUA had created the slogan that Home Depot has made so popular in recent years: “You can do it, we can help.” This cute and catchy slogan conveys a belief that congregations already have the capacity to do all those things that enable it to live out its mission in the world. They sometimes just want help, and sometimes we can provide it.
At other times the role of UUA staff becomes that of lifting up the good work of congregations and encouraging other congregations to learn directly from them.
That is the idea behind the Breakthrough Congregation initiative. It was an effort to identify those congregations that had achieved significant and sustained numerical growth and give them an opportunity to share at General Assembly what they’ve done, and how they’ve done it. Why not look to the experts—those lay and professional leaders who have already "cracked the nut" around growth—and give them the opportunity at general assembly to share their wisdom?
View a chart of congregations by size.
- Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Fremont, CA (Study Guide)
- Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon, Bend, OR (Study Guide)
- Unitarian Universalist Church of Deleware County, Media, PA (Study Guide)
- Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church, Hartland, WI (Study Guide)
- Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, KS (Study Guide)
- Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango, CO
- First Parish, Bedford, MA (Study Guide)
- All Souls Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation, New London, CT (Study Guide)
- UU Church, Ogden, UT (Study Guide)
All 2011 videos are 8 minutes long.
- Westside UU Congregation, Seattle, WA
- UU Congregation of Beaufort, SC
- UU Church of Peoria, IL
- UU Congregation of Fairfax, VA
2010 Videos are 12 minutes long except Mankato (14:30).
- Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, PA
- Unitarian Church of Summit, NJ
- UU Area Church at First Parish, Sherborn, MA
- UU Fellowship of Mankato, MN
2009 Videos are 12 minutes long.
- First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, IA
- UU Church of Bloomington, IN
- UU Congregation of South County, Peace Dale, RI
- First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, NM, with branches in Socorro and Edgewood
- UU Fellowship of Wayne County in Wooster, OH
- Pacific Unitarian Church, Rancho Pales Verdes, CA
- Bull Run UUs, Manassas, VA
- Unity Temple UU, Oak Park, IL
- Davies Memorial UU Church, Camp Springs, MD
- All Souls Unitarian Church, Kansas City, MO
- First Unitarian Church, Portland, OR
- Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship, Carbondale, IL
- UU Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes, Tamworth, NH
- UU Fellowship San Luis Obispo County, CA
- First Unitarian Society of Madison, WI
- UU Church of Annapolis, MD