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Unity Church

Overview of the Association of Unity Churches

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The Unity Church calls itself "a positive, practical, progressive approach to Christianity based on the teachings of Jesus and the power of prayer. Unity honors the universal truths in all religions and respects each individual's right to choose a spiritual path."

Unity, the parent group, is comprised of two sister organizations, Unity School of Christianity and the Association of Unity Churches International. Together they oversee the daily operations. Unity considers the churches a denomination but says Unity itself is nondenominational or interdenominational.

Neither Unity nor its churches should be confused with the Unitarian Universalist Church or Unification Church, which are unrelated organizations.

Number of Unity Church Members:

Unity claims a membership and mailing list of 1 million people worldwide.

Founding of the Unity Church:

The Unity movement was founded in 1889 in Kansas City, Missouri by husband and wife Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. Myrtle Fillmore attributed her cure of tuberculosis to prayer and positive affirmations. Charles Fillmore had long been studying world religions and the New Thought movement. They began publishing magazines and later expanded to radio, books, and a school. The Association of Unity Churches was organized in 1966.

Unity is known for its magazines, Daily Word and Unity Magazine. It operates Unity Institute on its campus, and has a prayer ministry called Silent Unity.

Prominent Founders:

Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.

Geography:

Unity's publications reach audiences in the United States, England, Australia and New Zealand, Africa, Central and South America, and Europe. Nearly 1,000 Unity churches and study groups exist in those same areas. Unity's headquarters is at Unity Village, Missouri, 15 miles outside Kansas City.

Unity Church Governing Body:

Individual Unity churches are governed by a volunteer board of trustees elected by the members. Responsibility for Unity's International Ministries was transferred from Unity to the Association of Unity Churches in 2001. The next year, Unity's board of directors was restructured to consist solely of members not employed by Unity. Charlotte Shelton is President and CEO of Unity, and James Trapp is president and CEO of the Association of Unity Churches.

Sacred or Distinguishing Text:

Unity calls the Bible its "spiritual textbook" but interprets it as "a metaphysical representation of humankind's evolutionary journey toward spiritual awakening." In addition to the writings of the Fillmores, Unity produces a constant flow of books, magazines, and CDs from its own writers.

Unity Church Beliefs and Practices:

Unity does not affirm any Christian creeds. Unity holds five basic beliefs:

  1. "God is the source and creator of all. There is no other enduring power.
  2. God is good and present everywhere.
  3. We are spiritual beings, created in God's image. The spirit of God lives within each person; therefore, all people are inherently good.
  4. We create our life experiences through our way of thinking. There is power in affirmative prayer, which we believe increases our connection to God.
  5. Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them."

Baptism and communion are practiced as symbolic acts.

Many Unity members are vegetarians.

To learn more about what the Unity Church teaches, visit Unity Beliefs and Practices.

(Sources: Unity.org, Unity of Phoenix, CARM.org, and gotquestions.org.)

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