Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Steven Bingham


In the summer of 2016, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Catawba Valley saw the retirement of its long-time minister and the hiring of a quarter-time consulting minister. In the 3-5 years leading up to that, the church had been experiencing a drop in general attendance, a decrease in overall membership, minimally functioning committees, defunct committees, and low morale.

Applying Morgan’s (2006) metaphor of organizations as cultures, which shows “how organization ultimately rests in shared systems of meaning, hence the actions and interpretive schemes that create and re-create that meaning” (p. 138), and which allows organizations “another means of creating and shaping organized activity: by influencing the ideologies, values, beliefs, language, norms, ceremonies, and other social practices that ultimately shape and guide the organized action” (p. 142), as the driving theory of this project, yet knowing “the change goal[s] must be defined concretely in terms of the specific problem you are trying to fix, not as ‘culture change’” (Schein, 2010, p. 311), I embarked on a 2-year project to address the problems at the church while influencing the culture as a necessary by-product of the change iniative.

After nearly 22 months of project implementation, membership rose from 32 members in 2016 to 63 as of May 2018, a 97% increase. Average weekly attendance rose from 35 to 50, an increase of 42%. Finally, pledges increased from six in 2016 to 34 in 2018, an increase of 466%. A descriptive study also helped define the church membership in preparation for evaluating the mission and strategic planning.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.