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The Nature of the Unity Movement

By Connie Fillmore Bazzy

Unity grew out of teachings based on the conviction that God is readily accessible to all people in the planet at all times. No matter what anyone's personal circumstances are - location, age, language, culture, religion, history - they can communicate with God directly and receive guidance from that personal connection.

For this reason, Unity was originally conceived not to be a separate religion or denomination in the traditional sense, but a support of or adjunct to existing religions using spiritual principles developed by our founders. People were expected to apply Unity's spiritual principles to their current life situations. Hence, Unity is often spoken of as "a way of life," as well as a religious movement.

 

This basic philosophy has shaped the approach of Unity to this day. Unity publishes books, magazines, pamphlets, and other materials that are distributed throughout the world to whoever wants them without thought of what a person's religion might be. Unity's prayer ministry, Silent Unity, responds to calls and letters requesting prayers and never asks the seeker what sort of God her or she believes in. Unity does not ask anyone to become a member and exacts no dues from its supporters. Unity is committed to serving the spiritual needs of all people who contact us regardless of their other religious affiliations.

 

We believe when a person calls on us for prayer, he or she is asking us to join in a sacred trust. Many of the people who call and write to us do so during times of great trouble and stress, times at which they are quite vulnerable. Our pledge to them is that we will help them regain their own connection with god, who is positive and loving, and that we will pray that all lives' circumstances will be in divine order. It is as if at that moment, the seeker had handed us an infant. We hold that request as tenderly as we would a little human life. This is not a time for giving or asking for information, it is not a time to prove whether a person has the "right" concept of God or whether they would like to hear about our other services. This is a time to love and to pray and to hold the sacred trust.

Most (we estimate 90 percent) of the people who call, write, and order materials from Unity are not what we would call "Unity people." They are Catholics or Baptists or Methodists or Unitarians or Jews or possibly even agnostics. They are happy with the personal religious belief system they adhere to and see Unity as a support to their beliefs. However, some people are so captivated by the Unity philosophy that they want to know more and become more involved. Some are so devoted to what they learn that they want to attend Unity classes and churches. They want to experience the warm personal relationships that a minister and church family can provide. It was the desire of people like this that led to the development of Unity churches during the early days of the Unity movement. Today Unity churches exist throughout the United States and in many other countries, enough so that Unity currently fits the definition of a denomination. These churches are served by the Association of Unity Churches.

So when people ask "Is Unity a church?" the answer must be "Yes, Unity is a church, but not only a church." When people ask "Is Unity a denomination?" the answer must be "Yes, but Unity is more than a denomination." Unity encompasses both nondenominational and denominational components. We believe we can best serve the spiritual development of humankind by providing as many different ways as possible to help people know the truth that God is ever with them, waiting for support and love them in all aspects of life. For some, this will be by means of a book or magazine. For others, this will be by means of an uplifting church service. For others, this will be a by means of a warm voice on the telephone in the middle of the night. For all of them, it means that we will meet and honor them where they are at the moment of contact. We will strive to be as we understand God to be: supportive, loving, nonjudgmental, and present in whatever way is most meaningful in the moment.

I believe the fact that Unity is both nondenominational and denominational is one of out great strengths and contributes to our success in serving people. By moving beyond the accepted definitions of religion, we break the bonds that limit people's beliefs about God and spirituality. Let us move beyond others' definitions of what should be and demonstrate the beauty of what can be: a world filled to overflowing with God's love, limitless and free.

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