|Classification||Unity (new religious movement)|
|Orientation||New Thought Christianity|
|Headquarters||Unity Village, Missouri|
|Founder||Charles and Myrtle Fillmore|
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
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Unity is a spiritual organization founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore in 1889. It grew out of Transcendentalism and became part of the New Thought movement. Unity may be best known for its Daily Word devotional publication begun in 1924. Originally based in Christianity with emphasis on the Bible, Unity more recently has said it offers "positive, practical Christianity" and describes itself as "for people who might call themselves spiritual but not religious."
Unity describes itself as a global, inclusive, spiritual community, offering practical tools and uplifting resources to help people of all faiths apply positive spiritual principles in their daily lives. Unity welcomes all people regardless of race, color, gender, age, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, physical disability, or sexual orientation.
Unity describes itself as having no particular creed, set dogma, or required ritual. It maintains that there is good in every approach to God and holds that one should focus on the potential good in all--that the essence of every human is divine regardless of current behavior.
Unity emphasizes healing by spiritual means, but it does not reject or resist medical treatments.
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. To learn more about spiritual principles, the Fillmores studies the teachings of world religions 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).
Although Unity School of Christianity was not incorporated until 1914, the Fillmores began publishing their first magazine, Modern Thought, in April 1889. Later magazines included Wee Wisdom (for children) and Daily Word. In 1891 the Fillmores named the movement Unity and began publishing in 1903 with Lessons in Truth by H. Emilie Cady. In 1906, Mr. and Mrs. Fillmore accepted ordination and ordained seven other ministers.
After World War I, Unity Village, which became a 1,200-acre incorporated town, was developed 15 miles southeast of Kansas City beginning with the purchase of a farm. Originally a weekend getaway for the Fillmores' downtown employees, Unity Village is now headquarters for the prayer and publishing work of the Unity spiritual movement.
After Charles Fillmore's death, the movement was initially led by the Fillmores’ sons and grandchildren. Great-granddaughter Connie Fillmore stepped down as president in 2001. Governance was then converted to a CEO and board comprising Unity ministers and outside business people.
The mission of Unity World Headquarters is to help and serve through prayer, publishing, and community. Unity World Headquarters offers resources to people of all faiths including magazines, booklets, videos, books, meditations, retreats, and events.
The Unity Prayer Ministry, also known as Silent Unity, has been praying with people of all faiths worldwide continuously for more than a century. Prayer associates respond to more than 1 million prayer requests each year by letter, phone, email, and social media.
Individual Unity churches are autonomous, each governed by its own board and minister. Minister training, ministerial placement, and educational resources are supported by Unity Worldwide Ministries, a separate nonprofit organization that leases office space at Unity Village from Unity World Headquarters. Unity Worldwide Ministries counts 650 churches and 1,700 licensed and ordained leaders worldwide.
The five basic ideas of Unity teachings reflect the universal spiritual principles taught in most of the world's religions.
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 choosing life-affirming thoughts, words, and actions in order to experience a more fulfilling and abundant life.
Unity views God as spiritual energy that is present everywhere and is available to all people. 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.”
Unity teaches the divinity of Jesus and of all human beings. They consider him an “elder brother” or “wayshower” whose life demonstrated what is possible when we live from our innate spiritual nature or divine consciousness.
Unity teaches that all people are individual, eternal expressions of God, and 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.
Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore interpreted the Bible as a metaphysical representation of each soul’s evolutionary journey toward spiritual awakening. Unity considers the Bible its primary 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.
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. Prayer is valuable not because it alters the circumstances and conditions of our lives but because it alters us.
Unity emphasizes its agreements, not differences, with traditional Christians and stresses its concurrence with the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. According to Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore:
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 considers itself a non-sectarian educational institution, although Unity ministers are ordained following their prescribed courses and training.
Well-known people affiliated with Unity include Della Reese, Betty White, Eleanor Powell, Lucie Arnaz, David Friedman,[failed verification] Wally Amos, actress Michael Learned, Licensed Unity Teacher Ruth Warrick, Barbara Billingsley, Theodore Schneider, Erykah Badu, Matt Hoverman, author Victoria Moran, Patricia Neal, Johnnie Colemon, and Maya Angelou.