Unity Church

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Unity Church
Unity Village
Unity Village
ClassificationUnity (new religious movement)
OrientationNew Thought Christianity
HeadquartersUnity Village, Missouri
FounderCharles and Myrtle Fillmore
Origin1889
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Official websiteunity.org

Unity, known informally as Unity Church, is an organization founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore in 1889. It grew out of Transcendentalism and became part of the New Thought movement.[1] Unity is known for its Daily Word devotional publication. Unity describes itself as "for people who might call themselves spiritual but not religious."[2]

Overview[edit]

Unity School of Christianity

Unity describes itself as a worldwide organization offering an approach to Christianity which teaches a positive approach to life, seeking to accept the good in all people and events. It began as a healing ministry and healing has continued to be its main emphasis.[3] It teaches that all people can improve the quality of their lives through thought.[4]

Unity describes itself as having no particular creed, set dogma, or required ritual.[5] It maintains that there is good in every approach to God and in every religion that fulfills someone's needs.[6] It holds that one should focus not on past sins but on the potential good in all.[7]

Unity emphasizes spiritual healing, prosperity and the curing of illness by spiritual means, but it does not reject or resist medical treatments.[8] It is accepting of the beliefs of others.[9][10][11][12]

History[edit]

Unity was founded in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1889 by Charles Fillmore (1854–1948) and Myrtle Fillmore (1845–1931) after Mrs. Fillmore had been cured of her tuberculosis, she believed, by spiritual healing. This resulted in the Fillmores' studying world religions, spiritual healing, and the links between science and religion. They were influenced by Dr. E. B. Weeks, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emma Curtis Hopkins and Mary Baker Eddy (the founder of Christian Science).

In 1891 the Fillmores named the movement Unity, and began publishing their first magazine, Unity. Later magazines included Wee Wisdom (for children) and Daily Word. Book publishing began with Lessons in Truth by H. Emilie Cady. In 1906, Mr. and Mrs. Fillmore accepted ordination and ordained 7 other ministers.[13]

After World War I, Unity Village, which became a 1,200-acre incorporated town, was developed 15 miles from Kansas City. After Charles Fillmore's death, the movement was initially led by the Fillmores’ sons and grandchildren.[8] It originally described itself as a "positive, practical Christianity" which "teach[es] the effective daily application of the principles of Truth taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ."[14]

Organization[edit]

Individual Unity churches are autonomous, each governed by its own board and minister, and seeking affiliation according to guidelines. Minister training, ministerial placement, and educational resources are offered at Unity World Headquarters, which also publishes magazines, books and pamphlets. The organization's prayer ministry, Silent Unity—a telephone and email service—offers prayer and counseling.

Unity's other programs include the Unity Society of Practical Christianity, Unity School of Christianity, Unity Institute, the Office of Prayer Research, the Association of Unity Churches, and Unity House, the church's publishing arm. Its headquarters are at Unity Village, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City.

Each Unity Church sponsors its own chapter of Youth of Unity (YOU), a group of high school-aged teens who come together to learn Unity principles and spiritual practices. All the chapters in a YOU region meet at least once a year for a weekend retreat called a 'rally.' A seven-day International YOU Conference is held each summer at Unity headquarters at Unity Village, Missouri.[15][16]

Basic teachings[edit]

Unity's belief system is expressed as "The Five Principles."[17] They are:

  1. God is all there is and present everywhere. This is the force of love and wisdom that underlies all of existence.
  2. Human beings are divine at their core and therefore inherently good.
  3. Thoughts have creative power to determine events and attract experiences.
  4. Prayer and meditation keep us aligned with the one great power in the universe.
  5. It is not enough to understand spiritual teachings. We must live the Truth we know.

Unity aims to demonstrate that the teachings of Jesus Christ can be lived every day. Its followers believe that the true "Church" is a "state of consciousness in mankind."[18] Unity teaches that each person is a unique expression of God and is sacred and worthy. It emphasizes the creative power of thought, and encourages taking personal responsibility to choose life-affirming thoughts, words and actions, to experience a more fulfilling and abundant life.[19][20]

H. Emilie Cady's 1896 book Lessons in Truth, A Course of Twelve Lessons in Practical Christianity is considered a core text of Unity.

God[edit]

Unity Church views God as spiritual energy which is present everywhere and is available to all people. Members of the church believe that God seeks only to express the highest good through everyone and everything.[21] According to Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore:

God is not a person who has set creation in motion and gone away and left it to run down like a clock. God is Spirit, infinite Mind, the immanent force and intelligence everywhere manifest in nature. God is the silent voice that speaks into visibility all the life there is.[22]

He later wrote that:

God is your higher self and is in constant waiting upon you. He loves to serve, and will attend faithfully to the most minute details of your daily life.[23]

Jesus[edit]

Unity Church followers believe in the divinity of Jesus. They believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the master teacher who demonstrated divinity and came to teach humankind.[24] Jesus is the great example of God in physical form.[25][26]

Nature of humanity[edit]

Unity Church teaches that all people are individual, eternal expressions of God, and that their essential nature is divine and therefore inherently good. Followers believe their purpose in life is to express their divine potential as demonstrated by Jesus, and that the more they awaken to their divine nature, the more they can do this.[27][28]Salvation, in the Unity view, is found in consciously understanding one's innate divinity, then putting that knowledge into practice in one's life.[29]

Bible[edit]

Unity founders, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, studied the Bible as history and allegory. They interpreted it as a metaphysical representation of each soul's evolutionary journey toward spiritual awakening. Unity considers the Bible a valuable spiritual resource, a complex collection of writings compiled over many centuries, and a reflection of the comprehension and inspiration of the writers and their times.[30][31][32]

Affirmative prayer[edit]

Affirmative prayer is understood, in Unity, as the highest form of creative thought. It includes the release of negative thoughts and holding in mind statements of spiritual truth. Unity teaches the use of meditation and prayer as a way to experience the presence of God, heighten the awareness of truth, and thereby transform our lives.[33][34]

Prayer is valuable not because it alters the circumstances and conditions of your life, but because it alters you.[35]

Unity teaches that it is helpful to pray with the belief that we have already received all that we need. In this view, through prayer the mind is renewed and the body transformed. The awareness that we are conscious creators of our lives is the bridge from the old Christianity, where we are "sinners", to the new understanding that we are "learners."[36] The Unity School of Christianity holds that prayer is not a way to inform God of one's troubles, or to receive favors or preferential treatment, but to align one's self with the power that is God.[37][38]

Relationship to Christianity[edit]

Unity emphasizes its agreements, not differences, with traditional Christians and[9] stresses its concurrence with the teachings of Jesus and the Bible.[39][40][41][42][43][44]

It has been generally accepted that Jesus' great works were miracles and that the power to do miracles was delegated to His immediate followers only. In recent years many of Jesus' followers have inquired into His healing methods, and they have found that healing is based on universal mental and spiritual laws which anyone can utilize who will comply with the conditions involved in these laws.[45]

Unity considers itself a non-sectarian educational institution, although Unity ministers are ordained following their prescribed courses and training.[9]

Notable members[edit]

Well-known people affiliated with Unity include Della Reese,[46][47] Betty White,[48][47] Eleanor Powell,[49] Lucie Arnaz,[50] David Friedman,[51][failed verification] Wally Amos,[47] actress Michael Learned,[52] Licensed Unity Teacher Ruth Warrick,[53] Barbara Billingsley, Theodore Schneider, Erykah Badu, Matt Hoverman, author Victoria Moran,[54] Patricia Neal,[55] and Maya Angelou.[47][56][57]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About Us". Unity.org.
  2. ^ "What Is Unity?". Unity.org. Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  3. ^ Rhea, Rosemary Fillmore, "Unity in the twenty-first Century" Unity Magazine, Sept–Oct 2004, pp. 32–34
  4. ^ Omwake, Mary, "The Power to Heal" Unity Magazine Nov–Dec 2005, p. 38
  5. ^ Rosemergy, Jim "No More Dogmas, No More Creeds, Unity Magazine, March–April 2003, p 17
  6. ^ Bazzy, Connie Fillmore, "Unity School of Christianity and the Unity Movement" Unity Magazine, Sept–Oct 2001, pp. 4–6
  7. ^ "Unity:A Path for Spiritual Living" Unity Magazine, Nov–Dec 2007, pp.41–42
  8. ^ a b "Unity School of Christianity". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  9. ^ a b c "Unity School of Christianity, The New Encyclopædia Britannica, 1987, Vol 12 P, 162.
  10. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about Unity". Unity.org. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  11. ^ Kornfield, Jack, "The Wisdom of Not Knowing" Unity Magazine Nov–Dec 2005 p. 10
  12. ^ Gaither, Jim, Metaphysical Musings, Unity Magazine, Jan–Feb 2008, p. 10
  13. ^ www.unity.org/timeline
  14. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Unity.org. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  15. ^ "About Youth of Unity | Unity in the Gold County Spiritual Center". www.unitygold.us. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  16. ^ "Youth of Unity – Unity Worldwide Ministries South Central Region". unitysouthcentral.org. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  17. ^ "What is Unity?". Unity.org. Unity. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  18. ^ Fillmore(1997) p37
  19. ^ Fillmore, Charles, Talks on Truth,17th ed 1998 pp. 7–13
  20. ^ Cady, Emilie Lessons in Truth, 15th ed 1995, pp. 97–109, 143–154
  21. ^ Shepherd, Thomas, "I've Always Wondered About" Unity Magazine, Sept–Oct 2007, p. 10
  22. ^ "Talks on Truth, by Charles Fillmore, page 9". The New Thought Library. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  23. ^ "Talks on Truth, by Charles Fillmore, page 11". The New Thought Library. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  24. ^ Fillmore(1997) p111
  25. ^ Fillmore(1997) p25
  26. ^ Braden, Charles, Spirits in Rebellion:The Rise and Development of New Thought. 1987, Southern Methodist University Press. pp. 260–262
  27. ^ Cady, Emilie, Lessons in Truth, 15th ed 1995 pp. 17–24
  28. ^ Butterworth, Eric MetaMorality: A Metaphysical Approach to The Ten Commandments. 1988, pp. 119–122
  29. ^ Braden, Charles Spirits in Rebellion: The Rise and Development of New Thought. 1987, Southern Methodist University Press. p. 238
  30. ^ Fillmore(1997) p. 24
  31. ^ Turner, Elizabeth S. Be Ye Transformed: Bible Interpretation Acts through Revelation 1988, pp. 9–13
  32. ^ "What We Believe". Unity.org. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  33. ^ Mosley, Glenn, "Learning to Pray," Unity Magazine May–June 2001, pp. 16–17
  34. ^ "Unity Beliefs". Bible.ca. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  35. ^ Freeman, James Dillet, "Life is a Wonder" Unity Magazine, Mar–Apr 2001, pp. 18–19
  36. ^ Baherman, Steve, "Unity: The Healing Edge of Christianity", Unity Magazine, Jan–Feb 2008, pp. 20–22
  37. ^ Fillmore(1997) pp 152–154
  38. ^ Cady, Emilie, Lessons in Truth, 15th ed 1995, pp 97–108
  39. ^ Fillmore, Charles Jesus Christ Heals, 19th ed 1999, pages 9–35
  40. ^ Turner, Elizabeth Sands, Your Hope of Glory, 10th ed, 1996, pp. 7–15
  41. ^ Butterworth, Eric The Universe is Calling, 1994, pp. 129–135
  42. ^ Freeman, James Dillet, The Story of Unity, 2000, pp. 9–19, 225–269
  43. ^ Mosley, Glenn, "Unity, Much more than a Denomination" Unity Magazine, Mar–Apr, 2003, pp. 15–16
  44. ^ Shepherd, Thomas, "That's a Good Question" Unity Magazine, Jan–Feb 2008, p. 7
  45. ^ Fillmore, Charles Jesus Christ Heals, 19th ed 1999, p. 79
  46. ^ Banks, Adelle M. (October 19, 1996). "Della Reese Is No Angel, But She's Real Reverend -- In Dual Roles Of Minister And Actress, She Has A Big Following". Seattle Times Newspaper. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  47. ^ a b c d Hingston, Sandy (October 10, 2020). "Science and Religion Have Never Been More at Odds. Can Conshohocken's Templeton Foundation Bridge the Divide?". Philadelphia Magazine. Metro Corp. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  48. ^ Villalva, Brittney R. (6 February 2013). "Betty White- I'm 'Sexier' and 'More Wise' at 91 (PHOTO)". www.christianpost.com. The Christian Post. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  49. ^ Taylor, Jim. "OUR "QUEEN OF TAP DANCING" - ELEANOR POWELL". www.tapdance.org. International Tap Association. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  50. ^ Messer, Kate X. "Lucie 'splains It All". www.austinchronicle.com. The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  51. ^ "MidderMusic | We Make Learning Musical Instruments Easy". 4 May 2020.
  52. ^ Learned, Michael (December 2002). "My Spiritual Journey". Daily Word. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  53. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths WARRICK, RUTH". The New York Times. January 18, 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  54. ^ Moran, Victoria (21 March 2013). "Growing Up on Daily Word". www.dailyword.com. Daily Word. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  55. ^ Raven, Barbara C. Badge of Courage. Unity Church of New York, 2002.
  56. ^ "The Revelation That Changed Dr. Maya Angelou's Life". Oprah.com. May 19, 2013. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  57. ^ Italie, Hillel (May 28, 2014). "Maya Angelou dead at 86". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved July 3, 2022.

Further reading[edit]

  • Berry, Harold J. (1975). Unity School of Christianity: What's Christian about It?. Lincoln, Neb.: Back to the Bible Publications. ISBN 0-8474-0745-4
  • Fillmore, Charles (1931). Metaphysical Bible Dictionary. Unity Village, Mo.: Unity School of Christianity.
  • Fillmore, Charles (1997). The Revealing Word: a dictionary of metaphysical terms. Unity Books. ISBN 0-87159-006-9.
  • Fillmore, Charles ([19--]). The Adventure Called Unity. Unity Village, Mo.: Unity. Without ISBN
  • Freeman, James Dillet (2000). The Story of Unity. Unity Village, Missouri: Unity Books. pp. 274 pages. ISBN 0-87159-145-6.
  • Vahle, Neal (September 2002). The Unity Movement: Its Evolution and Spiritual Teachings. Templeton Foundation Press. pp. 504 pages. ISBN 1-890151-96-3.
  • Mosley, Glenn R. (2006). The History and Future NEW THOUGHT, ANCIENT WISDOM of the New Thought Movement, Templeton Foundation Press. ISBN 1599470896

External links[edit]