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Preface: Unity’s Two Frontiers

Whose Unity Is It, Anyway?

Mark Hicks

Hi Friends -

There is a much discussion about the Unity Worldwide Ministries Town Hall meeting this coming Monday. The surface issue is whether UWM should declare itself a Christian denomination. But the real issue before us is the responsibility we have to one another when we make declarations about our religious movement. I ask first, Whose Unity is it, anyway? And second, Are we better off today than ten years ago?

UWH is throwing a “wide net.” UWH is a media company; they want to the freedom to attract a wide variety of people who have interest in their publications and prayer ministry, not necessarily those who have interest in the Fillmore teaching.

UWM is throwing a “focused net.” UWM is a religious denomination; they observe that successful ministries identify a profile of religious seekers which is sufficiently narrow to attract people and serve the people they attract. UWM is now their encouraging member churches to “focus their ministry” in five specific ways, one of which is identifying as Christian. I congratulate them for finally relinquishing the notion that people in churches somehow have "allergies" to language used in Christianity.

Wide net or focused net? Our impasse is a triangulation of interests in UWH, UWM and the 600 Unity ministries. There is no clear answer from a marketing perspective. UWH and UWM have actually switched positions on these strategies. Until recently, Unity “School” focused on Fillmore teachings and the “field ministries” pitched a wide variety of mental science and New Thought teachings. Today they do the opposite. These interests and strategies fluctuate. Chasing cultural trends is risky and confusing.

Neither a wide net or focused net works well for the churches if it is decreed from national organizations. One-size-fits-all branding is inwardly focused, regardless whether it comes from UWH, UWM or a joint committee. Unity churches serve people who have different language and customs.

Now, more than ever, we need true diversity reflecting varied social and cultural church memberships, not a one-size-fits-all brand identity. We don’t need 600 websites that all look alike and say the same thing. UWM member churches need the ability to focus on their unique membership, not on a “worldwide Unity brand.”

A Unity church is not a franchise. Individual ministries need to be outwardly focused on their membership and their community. Unity churches will prosper when the people they serve and cater to are in their community, not in Kansas City. That Unity World Headquarters has rejected a Christian identity is regrettable. But it would be a disaster if Unity Worldwide Ministries were to do the same.

Our responsibility to one another, to the Fillmores and to the thousands of ministries and ministers who have served this movement is to say what we mean and mean what we say. The soft peddling in the 2013 brand was a gross misrepresentation of the Fillmore teachings. Today, people reject soft peddling as inauthentic and it has led to another 10 years of stagnant growth. Where are the stats showing the impact of 2013 branding ten years later? Are we better off than we were 10 years ago?

Mark Hicks
January 4, 2024


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Preface: Unity’s Two Frontiers

The two organizations of Unity.

People who reviewed this book did not understand that Unity has a unique organizational structure comprised of two separate organizations known today as Unity World Headquarters (UWH) and Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM). What is now known as Unity World Headquarters was founded in the early 1890s and, for most of its existence, had been known as the Unity School of Christianity. It grew by serving the spiritual needs of anyone in the broader culture through publishing, prayer ministry, and education. That work continues as Unity World Headquarters owns and operates Unity Village, located south of Kansas City, Missouri.

Over several decades, “field lecturers” and independent teachers began forming study groups that provided spiritual community outside the mainstream Christian church. The study groups evolved into “centers” and then “churches.” In 1966 a denomination was formed, known today as Unity Worldwide Ministries, also located at Unity Village. Both organizations changed their names a few years ago, and we now have two organizations, UWH and UWM, one serving the broader culture and the other serving Unity ministries.

The two frontiers of Unity.

The mistake nearly everyone makes today is assuming that the two organizations are serving a market that is so “spiritual but not religious” that its members have “allergies” to the traditional language used in Christian churches. I don’t see it this way. Unity has two frontiers. One frontier is, as assumed, filled with many who have left the mainstream Christian church. The other frontier is the mainstream Christian church itself, its members, and their ministers, who remain in the mainstream church and are generally spiritual and religious. That frontier was the religious market that Charles and Myrtle Fillmore attempted to reach and serve through their publishing, prayer, and education ministry.

It is also the religious market where I focus TruthUnity Ministries. I am a metaphysical Christian. Like many, I have not left the Christian church, I am not offended by or allergic to traditional language, and I find great joy in fellowship with mainstream Christians.

I hope that by this credo, those who remain within the traditional Christian church will perceive how metaphysical Christianity in general and the teachings of the Fillmores, in particular, can enrich your Christian faith. I hope this credo will extend a hand of fellowship to you, not to convert, but to collaborate in the ministry inaugurated by Jesus Christ.

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