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New Thought Branches: Unity, Myrtle and Charles Fillmore

Charles & Myrtle Fillmore: Unity

Malinda Cramer
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore

Unity is a religious movement within the wider New Thought movement and is best known to many through its Daily Word devotional publication. It was founded in Kansas City, Missouri in 1889 by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore after Mrs. Fillmore had been cured of her tuberculosis, she believed, by spiritual healing. This resulted in the Fillmores' studying spiritual healing, and being influenced by Emma Curtis Hopkins. This gradually developed into the Unity movement as the Fillmores attempted to share their insights through magazines, books, and pamphlets and through “Silent Unity,” a telephone and mail service that offered people help through prayer and counseling. This growth led to several moves within Kansas City, and eventually, after World War I to the development of Unity Village, 15 miles from Kansas City. The movement was led, after Charles Fillmore’s death, by the Fillmores’ sons and grandchildren. It describes itself as a "positive, practical Christianity" which "teach[es] the effective daily application of the principles of Truth taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ" and promotes "a way of life that leads to health, prosperity, happiness, and peace of mind." (Wikipedia, “Unity Church”).

Unity School of Christianity

Charles Fillmore wrote “Unity is a link in the great educational movement inaugurated by Jesus Christ; our objective is to discern the Truth in Christianity and prove it.” The work of the Fillmores and much of what we know today as Unity is properly named the Unity School of Christianity and commonly known as the “Unity School.” Unity School has three main areas of work: publishing, education and prayer ministry, all centered at Unity Village. A fourth area of work, SpiritPath, is being developed to provide spiritual events and retreats, with an emphasis on prayer and healing, using the extensive facilities at Unity Village. It is important to note that the work and mission of the Unity School of Christianity is non-denominational, intended to convey the Fillmores' teachings in a manner acceptable to members of all Christian denominations as well as the wider society.

Unity Worldwide Ministries

Within 20 years of the founding of the Unity School there emerged what was known as “field ministries,” which were meant to be extensions of the work done by the Fillmores in Kansas City. These were run by ministers ordained by the Fillmores. These ministries later developed into “Unity Centers” and, eventually, “Unity Churches.” Today there are approximately 1,000 Unity “ministries,” which range from small to corporate sized churches. Most, but not all, of these churches coordinate their work through Unity Worldwide Ministries, formerly known as the Association of Unity Churches. Unlike the Unity School, Unity Worldwide Ministries and its member churches are denominational in nature. Another thing to note is that Unity churches are run at the local level, which has led to a significant number of churches not associating with the Unity Worldwide Ministries and has also given the churches great freedom to offer teachings that extend beyond that of the Fillmores.

Unity produced resources

Notice that all ninety audio clips from Tom Witherspoon's audio series have been inserted into James Freeman's book The Household of Faith.

Eric Butterworth on Charles Fillmore (Antecedents: The Fillmore's)

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