A Visit With Dr. Catherine Ponder about The Amazing Mays Family
A Visit With Dr. Catherine Ponder about The Amazing Mays Family
I first became aware of the Mays family while studying at Unity School in the 1950s. Blaine Mays was boarding with Cora Fillmore while studying for the ministry. There he met his future wife, Betty, a native of Missouri. Her aunt was a good friend of the then-President Harry Truman's sister, who would often call Silent Unity when the President came to his Independence home for some "r and r" and to recoup from the Washington, D.C. political scene.
Blaine and Betty celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2005. They have raised four children and served numerous Unity Churches. Blaine served Unity of Phoenix, with Betty at his side, for 27 years. They left it mortgage- and debt-free, and with the necessity for three Sunday services accommodating seven hundred attendees, many of whom attended sixteen weekly classes.
His parents, Lola and Cecil Mays, had discovered the New Thought teaching while living and working as educators in Kentucky. Later they moved to California to pursue New Thought studies; first, through attendance at Dr. Ernest Wilson's Unity Church, Los Angeles; later as one of three families that helped Sue Sikking establish Unity in Santa Monica. Blaine's parents later served first as Unity Ministers, then they became affiliated with Religious Science International, and finally founded their own independent New Thought Ministry and Seminary in Mesa, Arizona.
In the process of their various New Thought affiliations, Dr. Lola and Cecil Mays met most of the outstanding New Thought leaders of the 20th Century. Seven members of the Mays family became New Thought ministers. Not only were the Mays family instrumental in carrying forward the message of the New Thought ministry, they were also instrumental in helping expand the work of the International New Thought Alliance, which had been organized in 1914. Although many prominent leaders of New Thought had served as President and Board Members of INTA over the years, it was Dr. Lola Mays, a former Board Member of INTA, that gifted the organization with its first property, located in Mesa, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. This location later housed both the INTA offices and the Archives, and is in process of accepting funds for an additional Archives building.
Few families have worked as closely together to expand the New Thought message as the amazing Mayses. In most instances, perhaps one or two people in a family group would break away from more traditional thinking and take up the study of New Thought. Often members of such families considered them mavericks and assumed their affiliation with New Thought teachings was just a passing fad. The Mays family is amazing because once they found the New Thought philosophy, they never looked back. Instead, they seemed undaunted by the challenges such a spiritual teaching would require.
Of all the people connected with INTA today, Dr. Blaine Mays and his family are among the only people whose affiliation goes back more than fifty years—to the INTA Convention held in 1950. Other such well known attendees at that Congress were Dr. Emmet Fox, Dr. Ernest Holmes and his brother Dr. Fenwicke Holmes, Dr. Joseph Murphy, Dr. H.B. Jeffery and popular writer, E.V. Ingraham, whose book, Wells of Abundance, continues to inspire readers.
Dr. Lola and Cecil Mays are now gone. Dr. Blaine and his wife, Dr. Betty Mays, and his sister, Dr. Mimi Ronnie, still work closely together to continue the New Thought teaching through the Community Church of New Thought and Seminary founded by their parents in Mesa, Arizona. Furthermore, they work very closely to support and enhance the work of the International New Thought Alliance, also housed there.
On a number of instances, they have personally come to the financial rescue of the INTA. Prior to Dr. Mays' Presidency, the organization had gradually accrued indebtedness, some of its members were talking bankruptcy. Not the Mays family. Dr. Lola and Cecil Mays gave the organization $10,000. On another occasion, Blaine, Betty, and Mimi used their personal charge cards for thousands of dollars of unexpected expenses. This expense occurred when the hotel in which they had booked the next Congress had internal problems at the last minute, which could not have been anticipated; thus the good name of INTA was on the line, as well as its credit rating.
On a more personal level, Dr. Mimi Ronnie had a well-paying job in Atlanta, Georgia when she received a phone call saying she was urgently needed in the INTA office to act as Executive Secretary. She quickly came, with her daughter, although there was no promise of salary. Mimi is now Chief Operating Officer, and her daughter has married.
Among the INTA members who have contributed heavily to the organization is also Dr. Johnnie Colemon. She chaired INTA's most successful Congress in 1975, producing $60,000 to clear past indebtedness. It was through the 1977 Phoenix Congress that INTA became completely debt free. It was during this same period that INTA became active worldwide, with INTA districts growing to over one hundred. Many outstanding district events drew up to one thousand attendees. I recall speaking at one INTA district meeting at the Phoenix Country Club; and at another district luncheon held in the Grand Ballroom of the Scottsdale Marriott Hotel, both filled to capacity.
Dr. Raymond Holliwell had served as President of INTA for many years, prior to inviting Dr. Mays to follow him as President. Dr. Holliwell, like the Mays family, had used his own funds to help promote the work of INTA worldwide. One of his main contributions had been to make sure that the INTA Conventions were held only in the best hotels, which he would personally inspect and make the necessary arrangements with. He told me that Myrtle Fillmore had been instrumental in the healing of his eye condition. So he showed his appreciation by helping the Alliance as and when needed financially. Among the various Presidents of INTA was Dr. Raymond Charles Barker who also contributed his time, attention, and funds to benefit the Alliance. He took the first steps to initiate the Archives.
However, in conjunction with all that has been done to promote the message of Truth with the International New Thought Alliance, none of its leaders have done more that the amazing Mayses who have put their hand, heart, and pocketbooks to the plough and have persisted in moving the Alliance forward in challenging periods as well as in good times. There is a success axiom: "Two agreed tune in on a Third Power." When three are agreed, that Third Power is even more expanded. So much for the success of the International New Thought Alliance through the inner and outer work of the amazing Mayses.
(Excerpt from New Thought Magazine - Spring 2007)
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