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Development of the Unity Movement

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Development of the Unity Movement

Assembled and Organized with Commentary by Mark Hicks

TruthUnity Background of New Thought Course Guide Cover
Click on image for large picture.
See footnote1 for names of the people

Development of the Unity Movement is a course offered by Unity Institute in its Spiritual Education and Enrichment program. The material is presented in five sessions, each two hours in length. These five sessions are represented by the five major sections in the Table of Contents in the right sidebar of this page.

I have collected as much of the required course material as possible. I am making it available to you for self-study and to fellow licensed Unity teachers for easy reference in their classes. Here is a summary of what you will find:

  • The primary text for the course. The primary text is the first fifteen chapters of The Story of Unity by James Dillet Freeman. The Story of Unity is copyrighted and therefore can't be included here. However the book had been previously published in 1951 as The Household of Faith. The text is nearly identical. The later edition has removed some testimonials about the healing of particular illnesses, but is close enough that you can read all the reading assignments here.
  • Audio clips of Tom Witherspoon's 1981 lectures on The Essence of Unity. I have segmented Tom's cassette tapes into 90 short clips and inserted them into the online text of Freeman's The Household of Faith. So you can consider Tom Witherspoon to be the instructor for this course.
  • Dozens of pictures. I've also inserted dozens of pictures into the text. These pictures, plus the Witherspoon audio clips gives you a rich media resource. In my judgment, anyone who reads the text, listens to the clips and studies the pictures will have completed the required learning objectives of the course.
  • References to required material that is not available online. One other required source for the class is watching the video Charles Fillmore, American Mystic. I had to take down my streaming of this resource when Unity began selling the video in DVD format. Most Unity churches and licensed teachers will have a copy. Ask and you shall receive.
  • Additional supplementary material. There are other sources for learning about the development of the Unity movement. I have included links to these additional resources in the appropriate sections. Some of these links are captivating, such as the 1926 Silent Video of Unity. Some of them are controversial, such as James Teener's 1939 Dissertation on Unity and the Unity Progressive Counsel's 1991 course Unity and History. Both of these are fair and documented critical reviews of Unity. They balance the somewhat homogenized content of James Dillet Freeman's book.
  • My own commentary. Where appropriate I've included my own commentary about the development of Unity. I am aware that we all have our biases. Where I've inserted commentary, I've identified it as such so that you know the source. I hope it's fair. I'm open to revising anything that does not stand up to honest review.

I am especially thankful that Unity Institute has chosen the term movement instead of denomination or church. Unity, as a movement, is alive and vibrant. Each of us, as a participant in this movement, has a role to play in it's continued unfolding. May this course content open our soul to the understanding what that role may be and inspire us to answer the call of Spirit.


  1. The following people are in the collage, from top left to bottom right: Emilie Cady, Lowell Fillmore, Charles Fillmore, Myrtle Fillmore, Royal Fillmore, Cora Dedrick Fillmore, Ernest Wilson, HB Jeffery, LE Meyer, EV Ingraham, Imelda Shanklin, May Roland, Charles Prather, James Dillet Freeman, Herbert Hunt, Hannah More Kohaus, Frank Whitney, Francis Gable, Recca and Cassius Shafer, Jennie Croft, Elizabeth Sand Turner, Mary Kupferle, Georgiana Tree West, Ida Palmer, Carl Frangkiser, Rosemary Fillmore, Eric Butterworth, Martha Smock, Glenn Mosley, Grover Thornsberry, David Williamson, Dorothy and Phil Pierson, Ed Rabel, Vera Dawson Tait, Catherine Ponder, Carol Ruth Knox, Richard Billings, Jack Boland, Martha Giudici, Frank Giudici, Charles Neal, Alma Morse, Tom Witherspoon, Ruth Mosley, John Strickland, Phil White, Charles Roth, Marcus Bach