What is the Unity Church
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. Unity is known for its Daily Word devotional publication. Unity describes itself as “for people who might call themselves spiritual but not religious”
Unity describes itself as a worldwide organization offering an approach to Christianity that teaches a positive approach to life, seeking to accept the good in all people and events. It began as a healing ministry and healing have continued to be its main emphasis. It teaches that all people can improve the quality of their lives through thought.
Unity describes itself as having no particular creed, set dogma, or required ritual. It maintains that it is good in every approach to God and in every religion that fulfills someone’s needs. It holds that one should focus not on past sins but the potential good in all.
Unity emphasizes spiritual healing, prosperity, and the curing of illness by spiritual means, but it does not reject or resist medical treatments. It is accepting of the beliefs of others.
History Of Unity Church:
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.
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. It originally described itself as a “positive, practical Christianity” that “teach[es] the effective daily application of the principles of Truth taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ.”
Unity Church Beliefs:
Unity does not refer to Jesus Christ’s atonement or sacrificial death on the cross for humanity’s sin in its statement of beliefs.
A baptism is a symbolic act, a mental and spiritual process in which the person aligns with the spirit of God.
Unity’s founders, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore considered the Bible to be history and allegory. Their interpretation of Scripture was that it is “a metaphysical representation of humankind’s evolutionary journey toward spiritual awakening.” While Unity calls the Bible its “basic textbook,” it also says it “honors the universal truths in all religions and respects each individual’s right to choose a spiritual path.”
“Spiritual communion takes place through prayer and meditation in the silence. The word of Truth is symbolized by the bread or body of Jesus Christ. The conscious realization of God-life is symbolized by the wine or blood of Jesus Christ.”
“God is the one power, all good, everywhere present, all wisdom.” Unity speaks of God as Life, Light, Love, Substance, Principle, Law, and Universal Mind.
In Unity, heaven and hell are states of mind, not places. “We make our heaven or hell here and now by our thoughts, words, and deeds,” Unity says.
The only mention of the Holy Spirit in Unity’s statement of beliefs refers to spiritual baptism signifying the inflow of the Holy Spirit. Unity says the “spirit of God” lives within each person.
Jesus is a master teacher of universal truths and the Way-Shower in Unity teachings. “Unity teaches that the spirit of God lived in Jesus, just as it lives in every person.” Jesus expressed his divine potential and showed others how to express their divinity, which Unity calls Christ. Unity does not refer to Jesus as God, Son of God, Savior, or Messiah.
Unity Church believes that humans are inherently good. It believes the Fall occurred not in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God, but in consciousness, whenever a person resorts to negative thinking.
“Salvation is now,” according to Unity, not something that happens after death. Unity teaches that each individual produces salvation when they turn from negative thoughts to positive thoughts.
In Unity teaching, sin is a separation from God by harboring thoughts of fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt. It can be corrected by returning to thoughts of love, harmony, joy, and peace.
Unity does not mention the Trinity in its statement of beliefs. It does not address God as God the Father and does not address Jesus as the Son of God.
Unity Church Practices:
Not all Unity churches practice baptism and communion. When they do, they are symbolic acts and are not referred to as sacraments. Water baptism represents the cleansing of consciousness. Unity practices communion by “appropriating the spiritual energy” represented by bread and wine.
Unity church services usually feature music and a sermon or lesson. Unity churches have both male and female ministers. Larger Unity churches have ministries for children, married couples, seniors, and singles, as well as outreach services.
Relationship To Christianity:
Unity Church emphasizes its agreements, not differences, with traditional Christians and stresses its concurrence with the teachings of Jesus and the Bible.
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.
Unity Church considers itself a non-sectarian educational institution, although Unity ministers are ordained following their prescribed courses and training.