How Unity Disrupted the Religious Marketplace 120 Years Ago and How It Can Do So Again
Disrupting Unity is a work in progress for 2017-2018. It is based on a study made in 2014 called Disruption and Religious Innovation.
Click on the five menu items to see each section. This same information is provided in the context of the Development of the Unity Movement course on TruthUnity.
This workshop was presented at the following events:
- July 2017 — 102nd INTA Annual World Congress
- September 2017 - 2017 Fillmore Festival
- August 2018 - 2018 Fillmore Festival - Unity Village
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Fillmore Festival 2018-08-17:
Acknowledging Johnnie Colemon, Richard Billings and Joyce Kramer for past Fillmore Festivals
I'm so delighted there's some UFBL people here in our program. And the reason, the secret that needs to be acknowledged is the big draw for 10 years or longer at Fillmore Festival was Johnnie Colemon. And it was always magic. You had Joyce Kramer who was the controller of the event, okay. Then you had Richard Billings, and Richard Billings was Johnnie Colemon's straight man. And when you got the three of them together it was just magic. And people got to know that if they were going to come back they were not going to get just Johnnie Colemon, but they were also going to get Richard Billings is the Ed McMahon, the straight man, and you were going to get Joyce Kramer holding the whole thing together and just magical.
And of course, everybody got old, and Johnnie passed, and Richard is ... he couldn't make it. Joyce couldn't make it, but I just wanted to honor them, and I want to thank the UFBL people. You're part of us. You have held the Fillmore festival together in a way that hasn't been acknowledged. And I just want to put that out there.
What is the UFBL? Universal Foundation for Better Living. It is the organization that Johnnie Colemon founded after she was here in Unity. And she is arguably the most successful congregational minister I think that Unity has ever produced, and she was so successful that she actually went and founded a denomination. I hope I characterized that correctly. If not, I apologize.
Acknowledging Joyce Kramer and Phil Pierson for this Fillmore Festival
I want to just thank some people, specifically Joyce Kramer, for holding this together for over 25 years. Without her we wouldn't be here, absolutely, and she graciously handed it over to Unity School, Unity World Headquarters, excuse me, last year, and she's wishing us well. Joyce and Richard Billings also is wishing us the best right now. He wishes he were here. Many people had their hand in making this happen.
Let me just share Phil Pierson. I went to Phil Pierson two years ago and said, “I want to do the Fillmore Festival.” He said, “I'll do it if you have it at Unity Village.” It was Phil's idea to have it here. Without Phil's idea we wouldn't be here.
Acknowledging Dorothy Pierson
Talking about Dorothy Pierson, I interviewed Max Lafser. How many of you know Max? 50 years he said to me, and I've got it on tape, and it's on the Internet. He said, “I was a kid in Y.O.U. I was introverted, I was shy, I had no confidence. Dorothy Pierson came up to me and put her hand on my shoulder and said, 'You will be a Unity minister.'” He credits Dorothy with his 50-year career, and right now he's in Tyler, Texas. He's the founder at ... he's entitled to that [inaudible 00:05:11] over 50 years.
A year ago I interviewed Richard Byrd, who is now known as Meri Ka Ra. He has the most prominent urban ministry in Unity today, hands down. When he went to Los Angeles, Los Angeles was burning, and watch was exploding, and everybody said to him, “Get out of town. Get enough money to go off to the suburbs.” He and his wife, Erica, decided to stay there, and for 30 years they have carried on in Unity Ministry in a place that most of us wouldn't want to stop at a grocery store for. And Richard Byrd said to me that when he graduated here he wanted to go into music, and he was getting all sorts of pushback, and they weren't sure they were going to graduate him. And Dorothy Pierson stood up for him and said, “No, you're going to graduate this guy,” and he credits Dorothy Pierson. Without Dorothy, we wouldn't have had Richard Byrd. We wouldn't have had that Unity Ministry in Los Angeles for the last 30 years. Thank you very much.
The Fillmores disrupted the religious marketplace 120 years ago
Now, how many of you think that the Fillmores just got lucky? How many of you think that it was just pre-ordained that these simple folk from Kansas City, uneducated, with no credentials, no status, no money were going to be wildly successful over the next 40 years in taking on the religious establishment? What is the likelihood of that happening? How many of you have launched a church? You know how tough it is. They launched a movement, and they were successful, and my talk is why they were successful. And the end result of the talk is the reason they were successful has been documented and researched, and we know why organizations like this work and other organizations work, and we also know how you can apply it to your ministry today, and we know how the Unity movement can apply it going forward in the future. And I have 45 minutes to deliver that, so I'm getting ready to do that.
Now, how many of you have been on Southwest airlines? Okay. Most of you, right? Well, what was Southwest Airlines back 30 years ago? A little upstart in Texas, and all the big boys in the airline business were blackballing them. You couldn't fly out of the state. You couldn't fly into DFW. You had to fly into the old airport, Love Field. You couldn't fly into what's now George Bush in Houston. You had to fly into Hobby. They threw everything they could to knock Southwest out of the airline business, and Southwest had a secret weapon. Their secret weapon was we're going to take away your food, and their other secret weapon is we're going to put our flight attendants in Bermuda shorts, and we're going to scale this whole thing down so it's no longer formal and pretty. Okay, and not only that, but the biggest thing. Who can take away your assigned seat? You're all going to have to scramble for seats. So here Southwest is ... What are they doing? They're offering less, and they're taking on the big, big boys. And they're beating them at their own game.
And Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, after 100 years of evangelicalism taking over this country, and this is an evangelical country coming towards the end of the 19th century. Charles and Myrtle took them on with their publishing and their prayer ministry, and they were wildly successful. And let me ask you how many churches did they have? How many brick buildings did they have? How much money did they have? How many Harvard-educated ministers did they have? Tell me about their world mission program. Tell me about their Sunday schools. No, they had none of the things that normally go along with a successful religious movement, but they won. How did they win?
Now, the answer, in my opinion, comes from a business strategy theory. It's the biggest business strategy theory that's come out of American business in the last 30 years. It comes out of Harvard Business School, a guy named Clayton Christensen. He's written about how from time to time these upstarts seem to be able to knock the major players out of the business with no money, no funds, whatever, and they're successful, and I want to apply that. And if you go to the first page in the handout you'll see that there are actually five things that contribute to a successful religious movement, and they will contribute to your ministry today.
The Unserved Flock
And the first one is recognizing it's all about demand. It's not about supply. Those who are launching a ministry think, “I need to supply this. I need to supply that. I need to have a church. I need to have a music program. I need to have a Sunday school.” It's not about the supply. It's about the demand, and the demand is that there's a group of people, a social group of people, who talk together, who communicate, who have unmet religious needs that are not met by the existing ministers in their churches.
And who did Charles and Myrtle go to? They went to the sick people. They went to the poor people. They went to the uneducated people. They went to the people that were in the Midwest prairie. They went to the people who had no social service other than a post office, and they could receive materials.
So the first thing to focus on, you're going to have a religious movement if you look at the demand, not the supply. All of us need to ask the question in our own ministry. Who is your unserved flock? That's question 1 of 10. If you can identify who is your unserved flock you have the potential of being just as successful as Charles and Myrtle were. If you can't identify your unserved flock you're not going anywhere unless you're extremely lucky or have a lot of money and great connections.
And you can ask yourself, “What is the religious needs of those people in that unserved flock?” Now, Unity has been very successful working with a variety of people that have ... We've been working. We've ordained women. We have accepted, pretty much, gays and lesbians. Hasn't been perfect. In time, we accepted African-Americans and diversity. We have a lot of diversity. We weren't perfect at it, but we've done better than most. We have served an unserved flock, and that's part of Charles and Myrtle's legacy. They were simple folk who understood what people's needs were.
The Simplified Message and Practice
The second thing that happens after you've identified an unserved flock and their needs is identifying what is your simplified message? Now, for Charles and Myrtle, they scaled it down. They had what are called affirmations and denials. It's something that can be taught in one Sunday lesson. What is an affirmation done on? You don't need to go study metaphysics in order to do that. They also have the prayer of faith. Many people look at the prayer of faith and say, “Well, that's simplistic.” Absolutely, it's simplistic, but it worked. It reached people that were unreachable. It helped cure people that couldn't be cured. So when you have an unserved flock you also must have a simplified message that supplies religious benefits for those who don't have a lot of time, money, or education.
Now, it takes a lot of guts to put a chart like this on a handout to people who ... You know, this is complicated. Let me just talk about it. Let's assume this is the unserved flock over here. This is the served flock. These folks over here are ill. They can't quite get life together. They're troubled in many ways: socially, economically, financially. Folks over here are riding high. They're doctors and lawyers. They know how to navigate life. They pay my bills. They're successful. Now, almost all religious movements start over here, and they're very successful because they're dealing with real problems. They're being very sophisticated. They're being very successful.
What happens over time ... same thing happened to Pan-American Airlines. Same thing happened to the engineers that designed the buttons on the remote controls of the television sets that we buy at Best Buy. Over time people come to me and say, “You know, Mark, we'd like you to step up your sermons and put more meat into them, okay, and talk about theology.” So I start to move my intention. I get a little more complex. I get a little more sophisticated. And then they come to me and they say, “Mark, you know, we'd like you to go to seminary. We'd like you to get an MDiv because we want our minister to be credible.” So I move a little bit over here and I get my degree, okay. And they come to me, and they say, “Mark, you know, we'd like you to join our professional society. We'd like you to speak at our civic organization. We'd like you to be the chaplain of our senate, of our government. We'd like you to be part of our society.” And eventually I'm off the stage because I've gotten so sophisticated, and I can no longer relate to the people that I once served, my unserved flock.
I now am relating successfully to a constituency that is very sophisticated, that can build me a church, that can tithe. It's a very pretty picture, but it's no longer a disruptive movement. I have now joined the big time. I have now become establishment. That's what this chart is about. That's what happens, and while I'm over here there's some smart aleck over there who's going to come along and start serving the flock that I have left. And when they start serving the flock that I have left, then I am Pan-American Airlines, and they are Southwest Airlines, and they are eating my lunch.
And that is the story not of Unity. That is the story of almost every religious movement. It's the story of almost every business organization. It explains why we have a churn in organization, why we have that movement. It's why we have religious movements. It's why we had the Great Awakening in the 18th century, because the stodgy congregationalists in New England were so uppity that people couldn't join. It's why we had the second Great Awakening when the Methodist circuit riders, the uneducated farmers, got on a horse and went out into the frontier and served the people that no longer ... They weren't even near a church, but they were humble enough to get out there when the congregational, and the Episcopal ministers, and the Presbyterian ministers wouldn't go, okay. Charles and Myrtle were there, okay, and field lectures from Unity was there.
The Viral Ministry
Then you have viral ministries that replicate in scale, that deliver religious benefits without being immediately noticed or challenged. The congregational ministers laughed at the Methodist circuit riders. James and Peter in Jerusalem laughed at Paul, who went out into the Aegean and started his churches. And I can tell you people laughed at Unity.
Let me share something with you about not being noticed. Did you know that from 1910 to 1930 the U.S. Department of Commerce did a census of churches across the United states, just like they count people today they counted churches, and they never included Unity. The U.S. government was unaware that Unity was a church from 1910 to 1930. They weren't even on the map. That's how hidden they were, and by being hidden you're not challenged. It's like Southwest Airlines went into business, but Pan-American didn't see them, couldn't respond, and so that's why it's viral. It infects the religious marketplace in a way that no one's aware of until the game's over.
And so we have here, we have churches that are centers. Code word is they're centers. They don't have Sunday morning services. They have Sunday afternoon services. They have no-name meetings here in Kansas City, no topic. We're going to announce it when we get there. We have silent Unity societies. They're silent, okay. You know the Unity Annual Conference out here at Unity Farm? Living in Kent you would find a Presbyterian minister with any self-respect that would come and spend the Summer out here. You know, freaking Kent, okay. Take the Correspondence School course. I mean, they go to Harvard. We get the Correspondence School course. Come on. I mean, that's them. You're talking about hidden, viral, secret penetration in the religious marketplace. That's what happened.
The Spiritual Drive
Now, step four. This is the one that you really got to get home, the spiritual drive. These people are not motivated by secular costs. They're not motivated by an organization or control. They're not motivated by social status. There is no social status in Unity. There was no social status. There is no money. There still is no money. And there's still no ... Sorry, Unity there still is no organizational control. So what do you have? You got a bunch of women with no social status out there starting ... You got Johnnie Colemon starting groups in her kitchen, right? That's going to lead one day to a 4000-seat sanctuary in South Chicago. You have the law of giving and receiving. Are there any dues? It's all based on giving and receiving. You have free-will offerings. You have the covenant of Charles and Myrtle. Who is the covenant with? Was it with the denomination? No, it was with spirit. Charles and Myrtle were totally out of control. They had a spiritual drive, okay? You got to ask it. Do we have that today? And we have remnants of it.
The Condemnation by Incumbents
And then the fifth key is when they laugh at you. The condemnation of the incumbents. These are people who look at what you're doing and say, “There's no money there. There's no status there. There's nothing in it for me. You guys are chumps.” And what they say is, “You are simple, you're pollyann-ish, and you're a cult.” Right? That's what we get, and when we get that take it to the bank because it means we're winning in the marketplace of ideas. Because what they do when they laugh at you with disdain is they withdraw, and when they withdraw all of a sudden you're moving into an open market, and any business person will tell you that the ideal place to be is in a market where no one else is there. And Charles and Myrtle found the market, and when the incumbents figured out what they were doing they couldn't go there because they had no respectability.
Summary of the five things that make for a disrupted religious marketplace
Now, all of this is applicable to you and your ministry today. All of this. And if you look at the questions I've asked ... Who is your unserved flock? What are their religious needs? What is your simplified message? How are you going to reach them? You get two sentences, max. How will this help? Can you identify that? What is your viral ministry? What is it? And how could it be challenged if it was recognized? Ideally, you want one that isn't going to get any challenge at all because it has no ... no one wants it.
I interviewed Hal and Flo Dibblee back in March. Many of you know them. I mean, they exemplify ... Hal and Flo Dibblee couldn't care less what people think of them. They're truth teachers. They've got it, and they're just totally unconcerned about ... and for 25 years, through Love Offerings, they have maintained an office in Phoenix and kept a class filled. And there's a whole generation of people who grew up in Phoenix under the care of the Dibblee's. That's spiritual drive. And then how would they criticize you? What type of criticism are you going to get? And you want criticism, because when you get criticism they're withdrawing from the place that you're going. All right.
So that's your ministry, and if you can identify that, and this is applicable to any business. If you want to start a business you ask the same questions, and what we don't realize is that religion is a marketplace. Just like you want in the potato chip business, or the yard cleaning business, or the restaurant business, it's a marketplace. People get out Sunday morning. They have a choice to go to your church, or that church, or no church. It is a marketplace. It's driven by demand, not by supply. It's automated by supply. The viral ministries that come in, they supply it, but they supply it in response to the demand. And it's not noticed. It's not challenged until it's too late, because it's viral and it penetrates the entire religious culture to a point where it's unstoppable, at the point where the incumbents figure out what has happened. Okay.
Five potential disrupters in today's religious marketplace
So now is when I'm going to get in trouble. All right. And I acknowledge there's five things that are on the horizon today that I believe are disruptors. Five groups of people that are unserved by the incumbent churches and their ministries. There's five groups of people who are looking for something better, and they can't find it. And statistically maybe one in five will be successful. If, in other words, we launched five movements, five ministries, one in five would probably be successful. And I say that because in business, really 1 in 10 business initiatives are successful. 9 out of 10 fail, even when they're thought through. So I'm not claiming that all five of these are set in concrete and take it to the bank, but I am claiming that I would bet the ranch on them. And I am claiming that they drive everything I do at TruthUnity, okay, and I just want to make that case.
So it's going to rub people ... I don't know how you'll take it, but forgive me if ... First of all, I'm not a minister. One of the nice things about not being ordained is you don't have to grow up. I can get up here and I get forgiveness from everybody. That's Mark's problem for inviting me to speak. It's not my problem. It's Mark's problem.
All right. First one is from oneness to wholeness. What do I mean by that? Well, oneness is when you say, “Yeah, I know African-American boys are being gunned down on the streets, but we're one people.” That's oneness. It doesn't work anymore. We know that doesn't work anymore, right. We're a divided country. What we need is wholeness. And the difference between oneness and wholeness is oneness implies homogeneity. Wholeness implies heterogeneity. Wholeness is what Barack Obama called the patchwork quilt. It's not E Pluribus Unum, of many, one. It's out of many working together in a constructive way, in a whole way.
And the religious movement that addresses that is going to be wildly successful. We saw a little bit of it with Martin Luther King. He appealed to wholeness. He said, “We're going to change.” He did not accept oneness, did not accept the status quo. He appealed to wholeness. He said, “We can be one people diverse, one people heterogeneous, one people acknowledging differences,” and the religious movement today that can accomplish that is going to be wildly successful.
Now, when I teach a class I always start by saying there are three types of people in this class. There are people who believe the truth is revealed. They are traditional people. They believe it's revealed like Charles going to headquarters, Myrtle going to the silence. These are the true believers who want a restoration of unity. There are also people who believe the truth is discovered. These are the moderns. They're in your congregation, and they will jump at every new teaching that comes along that sounds like science. Near-death experience, chakras, energy medicine. You know what I'm talking about. These are people who look at truth, and they say, “I have discovered it.” They're modern people. They're in your congregation along with the traditionalists who believe truth is revealed.
And there's a third group today that really has the power, and that is the group that believes that truth is relative, that truth is in relationships, that truth is in loving relationships or it's not truth at all. It's the people who understand that the Civil Rights Act never got rid of racism. It got rid of slavery, but it never got rid of racism. It's the people who understand that equality for women. It got rid of explicit sexism that really didn't fulfill them. They wanted more. Women want more today. It's the group of people who understood that gays and lesbians today are leading a renaissance in marriage, even after all these years of other people talking about family values. Go figure. Who's teaching family values today? Gays and lesbians. That's truth being in relationship.
And so if you look out in your congregation today there are three groups of people. There's the traditionals, the moderns, and the relativists, the post-moderns. Unity calls them the cultural creatives, and one of the big mistakes Unity made was betting the ranch on the cultural creatives because they left the traditionalists, and they left the moderns in the past. That's the rub, okay. So my point is we're going from oneness to wholeness. The church that can do that is going to be wildly successful.
From Evangelical Christian to Metaphysical Christian
The second thing. We go from Evangelical Christianity to Metaphysical Christianity. I believe that Unity is a distinct and authentic expression of the historic Christian faith, a distinct and unique expression of the historic Christian faith. And what I mean by that is in the fourth century we had the Council of Nicaea. That was the beginning of Catholic Christianity. In the 16th century, 15th century, we had the Reformation. That was the beginning of Evangelical Christianity. Evangelical Christianity is with us. It will stay with us for a while, but it will never have the dominance that it had as in Christendom. We are moving into the third phase of Christianity called Metaphysical Christianity.
Metaphysical Christianity can be identified a number of ways, but first of all, it teaches we are not born in sin. We are born in bondedness. What's the first thing a baby does when it's born? Cry. Bondedness. What do babies do? What's the first order of business of a baby? To bond. And you say I'm born in what? In sin! That's what the Evangelicals ... We are past that. Everybody knows babies are born in bondedness. We are in an era of Metaphysical Christianity. We are in the era where we no longer worship Jesus, we follow Jesus. We are in an era when we no longer confess Jesus, we are transformed by Jesus.
That is Metaphysical Christianity. We will be successful if we adopt that instead of going off into new-age la-la land. We're Metaphysical Christians. We're not Evangelical Christians. It produced something I say to myself every night. I am eternally begotten of the Father. I am God from God, light from light, true God from two God, I am begotten, not made out of one being with the Father. Now, you don't get more orthodox than that until you put I am on it, and then you're into Metaphysical Christianity land. Very easy. It will work. The Catholics will love it. All right.
From Congregational Ministry to Cultural Ministry
Third, Congregational ministry to cultural ministry. Now, to really tick off a bunch of people, every time the Catholic church has gotten into trouble, they have created a new order of religious priests, okay. There's Diocesan priests that deal with the congregations. There's religious priests that take on the tough jobs. The Augustinians, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, and later the Jesuits, they were all formed in response to a challenge to the church.
We also have two types of priests in Unity. Diocesan priests are known as ordained ministers. Religious priests are known as licensed Unity teachers. They belong at Unity World Headquarters doing what Unity World Headquarters does best, engaging culture. Turn them loose. Turn the LUTs loose. Every time an LUT tries to run a church they screw it up. I admit it. But they're not trying to run churches, but they sure know how to engage culture. Turn them loose, okay. That's the third disruptor. I hope you like me when I'm done. All right.
Fourth. From church congregant to digital disciple. Now, I've got a problem. People come ... I started putting stuff out on TruthUnity, and all of a sudden I got emails from people. I got an email from a guy, a teenager, early this year. He said, “My little brother died. My parents are despondent. Do you have anything I can give them?” What am I supposed to do to that? I mean, I put the stuff out on the web. They emailed me, and I got to figure out a way to get that kid in touch with one of you that can help him. In other words, it's not right for me to put stuff out on the web, Internet candy, without helping people. You can't open your doors on Sunday morning and preach, and then say, “I'm not going to do any pastoral counseling,” right?
Well, we're going to have digital ministry. We're going to have web-based ministries, but it's a movement we haven't figured out how we're going to take those seekers that Googled and come to us and get them in touch with the people that can actually help them. And that is why TruthUnity has applied to Unity Worldwide Ministries to become a ministry. I want to engage that conversation. Now, all of you have talents. All of you, many of you are retired. Many of you can help these people, and when that connection is made they become a digital disciple. They're no longer a church congregant. They're a digital disciple, and they're probably yours for life.
I had somebody email me last year, said, “My son's in Folsom Prison. He's despondent. What can I send him?” You know how many people have family that are incarcerated? You know what it's like to have somebody whose family member ... You're incarcerated when your family member's incarcerated. They come to me. I'm a licensed teacher. I can't help them, but what I can do, possibly, with your help, with Unity Worldwide Ministry's help, is I can find a way so that they come back, they're connected to you. They're coming back to the Unity movement to train people that can help them. And I found a woman, I found two who could help this particular guy whose son was in Folsom Prison. I found one who has a son in prison, and I found another who's done a lot of prison ministry.
That needs to be done, and the church that does that successfully will thrive because people, they go out on the web first. They used to go to their minister. Now they go out on the web first when they have a problem, and they evaluate the solution by how many different websites point to the same answer, then they email you, and then you have to tell them, “I'm just a website.” That doesn't work. It's not moral. You need to help me, okay? Sending them to Silent Unity is fine, but what they want is a personal mentorship. They want a minister that's going to stick with them throughout whatever their problem is.
From Feeling to Intuition
Okay, the last one, from feeling to intuition. You know, back in Greek society, Plato and the Stoics, they were very suspicious of passion. Passion turned you into a beast. Today, passion prevents you from being part of a machine. We teach passion. We teach "heart-centered" metaphysics. My point is we've gone way too far. Push the men out of the UNity movement in general and you're alienating people who are basically cerebral and find truth in what Emerson called a an intuition. It's not passion. It's not heartfelt. It's intuition. There's a big difference. Now, we've gotten skewed there, and we need to pull it back.
Preview of Unity Vegan Partners
I want to add one more that's really probably going to ... I don't know how you'll respond to it. And I tell you, before the year is over there will be an association, probably called Unity Vegan Partners, of Unity churches, and they will commit to a manifesto. The first manifesto is "we will not feed your children doughnuts."" The second item is "we believe that a plant-based diet is the quickest way to deal with the wildfires out West and the floods out East." And the third thing is they will commit to is "we will not make fun of those who want to pursue a plant-based diet, and we take Charles Fillmore's statement literally that unless we quit eating animals we will never have peace on the face of the Earth."
Now, I'm not claiming that Unity as a movement should adopt veganism. It can't, and I acknowledge that, and it's a little bit unfair for me to throw rocks at an organization that has to serve a variety of people who are dedicated and heartfelt. But what I can say is there are enough people today who are ready to make that commitment, and I believe that if a church makes that commitment you will begin to see a disruption of the religious marketplace in that particular city, because there are a lot of families that get up in the morning and they don't want to send their kids to a place where there's doughnuts. And they're really upset about the wildfires, and they don't like the wars that we have, and they feel very uneasy about the slaughtering of animals. It's like alcohol.
I'm not criticizing. I drink alcohol, I eat meat. But I know it's not good, and I don't want it in my church. I'm not judging people. I'm just simply saying I want a church that teaches me wholeness and health. I want a church that lifts me up by the scruff of the neck and says, “Mark, you can do better." And we will see that organization before the end of the year. We'll probably see it before the end of October. It's coming. Email me if you'd like to be a part of it.
So, in conclusion, Unity has a bright future. We can take the Unity movement to a place that Charles and Myrtle never accomplished. We can take it to the place where it really is an educational movement inaugurated by Jesus Christ. It can be Metaphysical Christianity. It can be plant-based. It can be whole. It can heal people. It can bring diverse people together. We have all of those elements in our history, in our heritage. Not creating something to pander to culture. It's all been there. It's available to us right now, and I hope you'll join us.
Questions and Answers
So we have 10 minutes for questions or comments. Be nice. Thank you. Yes, ma'am.
Question: I just want to know, you know I've been vegan for nine years, and I joined Unity a little over a year ago, and I knew that Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were vegetarian, and I would love to see Unity get back to that.
Answer: Fair warning, after we're done the veganism we're going to go with the other statement, and the Statement of Faith that was taken out about sex. I'm just kidding.
Question: Are going to end up doing a lot of explaining about what metaphysical means?
Answer: Metaphysical Christianity honors the Greek influence of the early church, and so that the perception, or conception, that God is divine mind and not person, but what it really does, it honors and embraces the influence of Plato and Platonism in Christianity that has been suppressed, but it's certainly there. All of our teaching about the soul, the afterlife, all of that comes from Greek philosophy. None of it comes from Jesus. None of it comes from Jewish teachings. It all comes from Greek philosophy. It's still with us. It's deep in our society, and it was deep in Emerson, as Charles Fillmore interpreted that, and we need to raise that up and acknowledge that.
Question: I've been an ordained minister since '83, and have experienced the complete process from your right to all the way to your left in my own educational and practical experience. Right now, as a retired minister, minister, emeritus, whatever you want to call it, at a Unity Church in Memphis, Tennessee, that church, Unity Church of Practical Christianity, is experiencing exactly what you've described. The new minister there, who came from the Church of Christ as an organized, successful 20-year minister has recognized the uncertain. Those people who so want to let go of the old Evangelical approach, and opening his heart and his love to those who are seeking like he was until he discovered us, Unity. And now the transformation is absolutely amazing, what's occurring in the last year. And he's going through an ordination process for the Unity Church that is an interesting experience because he knows truth better than anybody I've seen in a long, long time. And my point is you have nailed it from my own personal experience as to what is happening and what needs to happen.
Now, I must admit, I'm not prepared to go vegan. My daughter is taking care of that, so every time I visit her in Los Angeles, oh, I have an amazing experience. But anyway. The truth is, and I'll shut up. Please continue what you're doing.
Answer: Thank you.
Question: It's thrilling to me to know that we have people like you in the congregation that are forward-thinking and see a real pattern for the future.
Answer: Thank you.
Question: I'd like to listen to your take on ... what you call a congregation. What you call the actual place?
Answer: Oh, I'm talking about what we normally think of. A church in a particular location with a board of directors and a minister, yes.
Okay. I think we're out of time. I'll be around in the next three days, so as I said, be nice.
Thank you, Sammy Smith, for sharing this audio and your encouragement to me.