6. Silent Unity
"Pray One for Another"
IN the April 1890 number of the magazine Thought, Myrtle Fillmore announced the opening of a new department that she called at first the Society of Silent Help. She wrote:
"All over the land are persons yearning for Truth, yet so dominated by the surrounding error that they find it almost impossible, without a helping hand, to come into harmony with the divine Spirit. To open a way for those and to help them overcome their sins, ills, and troubles is the object of the Society of Silent Help. The wonderful success of absent healing demonstrates that bodily presence is not necessary to those in spiritual harmony. Jesus said: 'If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven.' Those who have had experience in asking understandingly know that this is absolutely true.
"Hence a little band in this city have agreed to meet in silent soul communion every night at 10 o'clock all those who are in trouble, sickness, or poverty, and who sincerely desire the help of the Good Father.
"Whoever will may join this society, the only requirement being that members shall sit in a quiet, retired place, if possible, at the hour of 10 o'clock every night, and hold in silent thought, for not less than fifteen minutes, the words that shall be given each month by the editor of this department. The difference in the solar time between widely separated places will not materially interfere with the result, for to Spirit there is
neither time nor space, hence each member should sit at 10 p. m. local time."
The words that were given to be held in silent thought every night at 10 o'clock from April 15 to May 15, 1890, were these:
"God is all goodness and everywhere present. He is the loving Father, and I am His child and have all His attributes of life, love, truth, and intelligence. In Him is all health, strength, wisdom, and harmony, and as His child all these become mine by a recognition of the truth thatGod is all."
The little band that met in silent soul communion at first consisted only of Mr. and Mrs. Fillmore and a few friends and neighbors who had become interested. They met every night at 10 o'clock in the Fillmore home to pray together and to give a blessing to all who tuned in to them in thought. Sometimes to open the meeting they sang a hymn or two to get themselves into a spirit of worship, then Charles or Myrtle led the others in affirmative prayer.
"Take with you words, and return unto Jehovah," (Hos. 14:2) said the prophet Hosea. This is exactly what the first members of the Society of Silent Help did. They became quiet and meditated on the idea of God until the idea became a living reality in their minds and hearts and they felt Him as a living presence in themselves. When they had gained a sense of oneness with Him, they affirmed that His goodness was being brought forth in their minds, bodies, and affairs. They made these affirmations for one another; they made them for others who had asked them for special prayers. If someone during the day had asked one of this little band to pray for him, they all spoke his name and declared Truth for him; that is, they affirmed his oneness with the goodness of God, with health and love and wisdom and harmony and
any other blessing they felt he needed. All that they asked of the one for whom they prayed was that he join in silent prayer with them wherever he might be.
From the time that the Fillmores had started Unity, they had been praying each evening for those who came to them personally and asked for prayer. At this time, they enlarged the field of their service.
"The Society of Silent Help," they wrote, "is open to everyone. If you are sick, troubled, or unhappy from any cause whatever, sit in the silence with us every night and for a short time forget all your external thoughts. Give yourself up to the Spirit within for but a little while, and we assure you your heart will be lighter at the end of thirty days, if not in less time."
In establishing the Society of Silent Help, the Fillmores took a great step forward. From the beginning, they had been teaching that God is omnipresent and suddenly they realized that if it were true that God is everywhere, that His power is everywhere and can be called into activity anywhere, it was not necessary for people to come to them for personal interviews in order to receive help. God's presence was not confined to the little room of their home where they prayed, or to their office; He was not something that only acted in their presence or when they spoke a word of Truth into the ear of someone sitting near them. God was omnipresence, God was everywhere, God was principle. The principle of God was not limited by space or time. The only limitation that there could possibly be was the limitation that existed in those who were attempting to work with the principle. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing," Jesus had said; and so they asked in prayer, believing. Like the Master at the tomb of Lazarus, they declared with perfect faith: "Father, I thank thee that thou
heardest me. And I knew that thou hearest me always" (John 11:41,42). Because they felt that God's will is always good, they had come to the conclusion that all that keeps man's blessings from him is his own thoughts, his own lack of faith. They realized that if men can get their thoughts right, change their attitude, their consciousness — as they called it — into one of receptivity, God's good flows into their lives.
They felt that there is power in united prayer, that when several persons with a high degree of faith in God's goodness join together in affirming Truth a channel is cleared, as it were, through which His blessings may flow forth more freely and abundantly. Therefore, they felt that the location of those for whom they prayed did not matter. Though miles might separate the persons concerned, if they were together in thought, they were together in the true sense of the word. If one person prays in a spirit of love and faith and lifts himself into oneness with God, then all who are attuned in thought with him are lifted into that oneness, no matter whether they are sitting side by side or are on opposite sides of the earth.
This was a great discovery by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, that people did not have to live in Kansas City in order to commune with them in prayer. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth," said Jesus, "will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32). They could pray in the house on Elmwood Avenue in Kansas City or in their office downtown and if they could be lifted up in consciousness to an awareness of the Christ presence, all who prayed with them, no matter where they might be, would be lifted up into that same awareness. It was upon this idea that Silent Unity was founded and it is through this faith that Unity has grown.
At first, the department of Silent Help was supervised
by Mrs. Fillmore, but in a short time, as this department grew rapidly, both she and Mr. Fillmore were thoroughly engrossed in it.
There was something about the idea of the little band meeting together in silent soul communion every night at 10 o'clock to help all those who were in trouble, sickness, or poverty, wherever they might be throughout the land, that appealed to the imagination. People began at once to write for prayers. Mrs. Fillmore wrote:
"This department is not intended for trained teachers, although many of them might be benefited by sitting in the silence each evening, but the object is to start into spiritual unfoldment those who are so situated that they cannot have personal teaching."
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were in tune with their time. They knew that men had come to the place where they were seeking to find Truth within themselves. They knew that all over the earth there were people hungering for silent soul communion, people in need, people sick and troubled, people looking for God. They sensed that these people were not finding in the churches the help in their trouble or the communion in their loneliness that they desired. It was for these people that the Society of Silent Help was formed, and it was these people who stretched out their hands to the Fillmores for help through prayer. From the beginning, no charge has been made for this help. The Silent Unity ministry has always been conducted on the freewill offering plan.
In the May 1890 number of the magazine, Mrs. Fillmore wrote:
"Although the Society of Silent Help [as an organization] has been in existence but thirty days, it has in that short time demonstrated its efficacy as a factor in
the new dispensation. Its potency in opening the way for the Spirit of truth will increase in proportion to its membership — purity and persistence of individual thought being always understood. At the end of one year, there ought to be at least five thousand people in this country alone who will give fifteen minutes each evening to the silent communion with the Spirit of God. With that number of earnest souls holding the thoughts of Truth, every member should be lifted above sickness, sorrow, and poverty."
From lonely farms and little villages, and from the loneliness of big cities, the letters began to come almost at once, from the people who were sick and the people who were unhappy and the people who were seeking the unfoldment of their own spiritual powers. In a short time, all over the land, people were sitting down at 10 p.m. and joining in silent soul communion with the little band in Kansas City. From thousands of isolated rooms, isolated no longer, voices were declaring longingly and prayerfully:
"God is all goodness and everywhere present. He is the loving Father, and I am His child and have all His attributes of life, love, truth, and intelligence. In Him is all health, strength, wisdom, and harmony, and as His child all these become mine by a recognition of the truth that God is all."
In May 1890, the hour of prayer was changed from 10 to 9 at night. "This change," wrote Mrs. Fillmore, "is made to accommodate a number of persons living in the country districts who have written us that they should like to become members but were prevented by the lateness of the hour of communion."
Each month in the magazine a new affirmation, or prayer, for the members of the Society to hold together in thought was printed. These were called "Class Thoughts." These
were general statements like the first one printed above, but in a few years two "Class Thoughts" were printed each month, one to cover healing and one to cover prosperity. Today when a person writes to Silent Unity for help he almost always receives a prayer statement printed on a leaf or card, but for many years this was not the case. If a person wanted Silent Unity's help he wrote a letter to the Society and at the same time began to use whichever one of the "Class Thoughts" best fitted his need. The "Class Thoughts" printed in Unity were the only prayers that the members of Silent Unity used.
At one time, the "Class Thoughts" were printed on a sheet that could be taken out of the magazine so that the subscriber could carry it with him wherever he went. For a few years in the early 1900's, this sheet was colored red and became known as the "red leaf." Some of Unity's subscribers began to apply this leaf literally to various parts of their bodies that needed healing, like a kind of charm. Charles Fillmore wrote that the "red leaf" was of value not because of any mysterious physical virtue it possessed but only because the diligent use of the affirmative prayer printed on it might quicken the one who used it into a realization of his oneness with the healing life of God. Many of his students, however, went on applying the red leaf to their bodies, and Unity received hundreds of letters telling of good results obtained by this method.
In time, the "Class Thoughts" came to be supplemented by other affirmations composed by Silent Unity to meet specific needs of correspondents. Today there are hundreds of different affirmations, affirmations to fit every conceivable need.
In the beginning, the prayers of Silent Unity were almost exclusively concerned with the healing of physical
ailments, and later with financial supply. It was only after several years that people began to feel free to write about other things. Today, of the more than six hundred thousand requests for prayer that are received every year, although many are still concerned with a need for healing and prosperity, the majority of requests deal with emotional problems, problems involving human relationships.
In the beginning, there were no special prayers sent out and letters that were received in connection with the Society were not always answered. Myrtle Fillmore wrote:
"In reply to the many letters to the editor of this department, we would say that our duties are such that we cannot personally answer each one, but that we do hold the writers in thought for what comes to us as their special needs. We are glad to hear from everyone who takes an interest in this society and every letter will be filed in the archives and become a part of our storehouse of good."
Today almost every letter is answered, and an affirmation especially fitted to the correspondent's need is sent. Also Silent Unity has prepared several hundred booklets that take up the various problems that people write about, and usually one of these is inclosed.
The new organization did not long have the name of "Society of Silent Help." In the spring of 1891, less than a year after the organization was formed, Charles Fillmore had his revelation that the new movement should be called "Unity," and the first Unity magazine was published in June of that year. It was published as an organ of the new Society, the name of which was now changed to "Society of Silent Unity," of which Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were listed as the central secretaries. As the Society of Silent Unity, it has been known ever since. Through the years, the
name of Silent Unity has come to mean much to millions of persons (many of whom were not yet born in the spring of 1891 when the Fillmores gave it that name). It has come to be a symbol of love and service and help in time of trouble.
Most of those who have written to Silent Unity for help have never been in Kansas City. They have never talked with a Silent Unity worker. Yet to them the name Silent Unity stands for the "silent soul communion" of which the Fillmores spoke in the very first notice that appeared in the magazine about the formation of this new department. It stands for the outstretched hands of prayer, outstretched in love and service, outstretched in faith in God. It stands for help in every need, for healing for the sick and supply for the needy, joy for the down-in-spirit and freedom for those in bondage, companionship for those who are alone.
Relatively few who have turned to Silent Unity have ever visited Unity headquarters; but even if they have not, they know that there is today (as there was sixty years ago) a band of faithful workers praying with them, thinking of them, taking their needs to God in prayer each day. They know that if they should go to Unity headquarters, whatever the hour of the night or day, they would find someone in prayer, someone keeping the vigil of faith that began over sixty years ago. And they know that they do not need to go in person, they only need to go in thought, only need to turn in heart and mind to Silent Unity to find the "silent soul communion" that is their need.
The infinite potentialities of the idea of Silent Unity revealed themselves almost at once. From many places, numerous people not only wrote for prayers for themselves, they wrote that they were having some of their friends who were interested in spiritual matters meet with them at 9
o'clock at night and form another Society of Silent Unity.
The Fillmores could see that Silent Unity, with little groups of persons in harmony of thought and purpose joining together all over the land to pray for themselves and for one another, might be developed into one of the most potent spiritual forces that had ever been created. They could see that in a short time they were going to have thousands praying together, uniting their spiritual effort in a common aim, and they could see that through this common effort a tremendous spiritual force was going to be unleashed. They could see how Silent Unity would grow into a great far-flung movement of mutual help.
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," said Jesus (Matt. 18:20).
In Silent Unity, there would be not two or three gathered together, but thousands. What immeasurable spiritual power must this united prayer release! In their magazine, the Fillmores wrote directions for forming Silent Unity Societies:
"Start a society at once if you have but two persons to begin with. Do not seek numbers, but harmony in those who meet with you. Meet regularly every Tuesday night, and the Spirit will eventually draw to you those desired. Two persons in perfect harmony will do the work of the Spirit more effectually than a hundred in discord.
"Begin with music and sing frequently during the entire time of the meeting. Immediately after each song, hold in the Silence for a moment some thought of Truth. You cannot overdo this feature of the meeting. It is always uplifting and harmonizing to hold in unison some high spiritual thought. 'Speech is silver, silence is golden.'
"The early part of the evening may be passed in a general discussion of matters spiritual. When the clock
strikes nine, go into the silence and hold in consciousness a few moments: 'Be still, and know that I am God.'
"Then after music hold the class thought for the month, in unison, for a few moments. It is sometimes advisable to repeat it audibly, then silently, until the mental vibrations become harmonious. In holding these universal thoughts, let your consciousness go out and take in all the minds of men. Feel that you are talking to every soul in the universe and that all are listening to your call. This mental drill will center your thoughts, and those of you who are spiritually alive will sense the vibrations of Spirit. Then is the time to do effective work. Take up those you desire to help and hold them in thought by name separately.
"The only object and aim of this Society is to get people to listen to the 'still small voice' and know that God will lead them into all wisdom, health, and happiness if they will spend but a few moments each day in His company — the silent realm of Divine Mind. Rules are but temporary leading strings and must eventually all be put aside. 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more: the first things are passed away (Rev. 21:3).'"
All who desired to be identified with Silent Unity were invited to send in their names with a brief description of their troubles. No answer by letter was assured the writer, but he was assured that Silent Unity would respond in prayer. He could have a certificate of membership if he wanted one. If he wanted help for a friend, he could have that, but he had to promise to pray for the friend himself. In a short time, the Fillmores decided that the nine o'clock prayer period was not enough and members were
asked to sit in the silence not only in the evening but also from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. and join in prayer at that time. Today people join in prayer with Silent Unity at all times of the day and night.
The day begins in Silent Unity at 8 o'clock in the morning with a prayer service based on the prayer that is given in Daily Word for that day. (This is done also in all other departments at Unity.) At 11 o'clock a record of the Lord's Prayer made by Charles Fillmore is broadcast from loudspeakers throughout the buildings. At this time, the Silent Unity workers who have established a high healing consciousness meet in the prayer room for a healing service based on the "Class Thoughts." Before a worker is permitted to take part in this healing meeting, he has been instructed in the principles of healing as taught by Unity School. Usually a worker has had about three years of service and instruction in Silent Unity before he takes part in the healing meeting.
At noon, there is another special period of prayer based on the Prosperity Thought. At two-thirty in the afternoon, the workers meet again to study and pray. Most of the workers go home at 5 o'clock, but a small group comes on and remains all night long. They conduct the nine o'clock prayer service, which is centered on the Healing Thought, answer telephone calls, and pray.
Every worker who handles a letter from a correspondent, even if he is only filing it, gives it his blessing. Every half hour of the day, a worker goes into the prayer room alone to pray. Today prayer is truly continuous in Silent Unity.
The growth of the organization was rapid. In 1891, Mr. Fillmore asked for Societies of Silent Unity to be formed "in every town, city, and hamlet in the land. No formal organization of any kind is necessary — no creed, no leader,
no authority but God." In a short time, there were hundreds of these groups. In five years, more than six thousand memberships were issued. By 1903, there were ten thousand members; by 1906, fifteen thousand; today Silent Unity receives more than six hundred thousand requests for prayers each year.
For several years, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore did all the work in Silent Unity. They called themselves "central secretaries" and they handled all the letters themselves, though often unable to answer them all. Occasionally, when there were many letters that had to go unanswered, Myrtle Fillmore printed in the magazine a general letter to all the Silent Unity correspondents who had not been answered personally:
"Dear Friends: Your loving words make us strong and glad. We never tire of them. The inspiration of them goes with us through all of our work. They shine out to us from shadows that sometimes seem. They refresh and bless us. God measure to you again increasingly.
"No less dear to us is your sacred confidence, dear hearts, who believe yourselves overshadowed by sorrow and disease. God loves you! We would rather be able to speak the word that hurls you from these mountains of belief than charm all earth with our eloquence.
"It is because so many ask for words of help and comfort that we have not been able to make our pen fly fast enough to get round to each. Our thoughts are not so slow. You have all, each and every one, been held in strong and loving Truth by us."
It was several years before the Fillmores were able to hire someone to help them with the Silent Unity correspondence. By the early 1900's, they had a half dozen helpers working with them to answer the letters from Silent Unity
correspondents. About one hundred letters a day were coming to the department, and Charles Fillmore was prophesying that the time would come when there would be twenty-four workers in Silent Unity.
To one looking back from the present when there are about one hundred and twenty workers in Silent Unity, that may not seem like much of a prophecy, but at the time it took courage and faith to make the statement, and to those who were working with him it seemed like a grand leap of the imagination.
At that time, the work was conducted on the third floor of the new building that Unity had built at 913 Tracy. Here at the top of a narrow stairway, Silent Unity had its prayer room into which no one was permitted to enter save those who through years of silent meditation and consecration to the Christ ideals had unfolded spiritually to the place where they maintained themselves in a high consciousness of faith in God. Here the requests for prayer were brought, and here the members of Silent Unity met each day to take those requests to God in prayer.
The workers of Silent Unity have always claimed that they have no special power that is not also latent in everyone else. "It is not I, but the Father within me, he doeth the works." When they meet in the prayer room, this statement is always in front of them. It is printed at the top of the lists of names that they take into the room. But those who take part in the healing meetings have consecrated themselves to the service of God and their fellow men through years of preparation in prayer and obedience to the teachings of Jesus. To this day, Silent Unity workers feel that their prayer room is a sacred place, a place apart, a place that like the "secret place of the Most High" within themselves is to be kept inviolate and consecrated. Few
persons outside of the members of Silent Unity are ever admitted to this room.
From the beginning, the prayers of Silent Unity produced results. In one of the first issues of Unity magazine, there were two letters from correspondents. The first was from a woman in Dundee, Illinois, who wrote:
"My husband, a strong, healthy man of two hundred pounds, got out of bed perfectly well to all appearance, after a good night's sleep. All at once, he grew blind and fell forward. The fall awoke me, and I hastened to him. He was trying to arise, and I helped him onto the bed.
"Oh, the looks of him would have scared me a few months ago. The pulse was gone, and the heart's action was imperceptible. I said not a word but quietly lay down beside him, and burying my head in the pillow to shut out the terrible seeming, I mentally affirmed 'Life, life, eternal life,' over and over again. I said, 'God is in that heart, and its action is perfect.' I said it with all my might and soul.
"Soon the heart resumed its action, the body became warm, and he slept, oh, so sweetly in those loving arms of healing mercy. I want to sing praises to God all the time.
"I will just say that my husband was able to be about and do some work the same day."
And the other was from a Kansas City doctor, who said:
"Last Tuesday night, I was watching at the bedside of an apparently dying woman. I had exhausted every resource. She was surely passing away, when I thought of Silent Unity. I prayed that I might have your help in saving my patient. It was about 9 o'clock, and I knew you were in session, so I shut my eyes and asked that the Spirit of truth might be poured out upon the dying woman.
"Instantly the room seemed ablaze with a bright
light, and I saw a stream of what seemed a luminous ether poured upon my patient. I saw it just as plainly as I could the sunlight coming through a window. Just how long it lasted, I do not know. When I opened my eyes, I found the woman sleeping. In about half an hour, she awoke greatly improved. Again she went to sleep. The next morning, I was satisfied she would live. Yesterday she started on a long journey.
"It was to me the tangible evidence of an invisible healing principle of which our medical science is still quite ignorant. I can only say it must have been the power of God."
At first, the Fillmores were reluctant to print testimonials, but in succeeding issues under a column with the heading "Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver" were printed stories of the healing of many diseases. Through the years that Silent Unity has prayed with those who turned to God for help, the magazines published by Unity have contained letters testifying to the healing of almost every known physical ailment, including cancer, tuberculosis, blindness, deafness, insanity, arthritis, and so forth. There have been letters from those who found through Silent Unity new faith in life after they had come to the place where they had decided to make an end of it. There have been letters testifying to the gaining of freedom from bondage to habits and false states of mind of many years' standing. There have been letters that have told how families have adjusted their lives and grown out of chaos and bitterness into harmony and happiness. There have been letters that have related seemingly miraculous openings of employment and income where before failure had appeared to be certain. There have been letters proving over and over thousands of times that with God all things are possible.
When they were the central secretaries of Silent Unity,
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were close to those who worked there. Every day, Mrs. Fillmore went from desk to desk among the workers, bringing encouragement and words of cheer, perhaps leaving some small gift that she wished to share with the worker. Mr. Fillmore sat at his desk at the head of the department. When a worker had some particularly difficult letter to answer that he was not sure of, he took it to Charles Fillmore and received advice and inspiration. Together these two led the healing meetings and taught most of the classes in Silent Unity that prepared the workers to conduct the ministry aright. They were the mind and heart of Silent Unity. Their prayers were at the core of it. Their ideas were the inspiration for it.
Today the spirit of these two still moves through the Silent Unity work. The same spirit of devotion to the healing ministry of the Christ burns in the hearts and minds of those who serve there. Letters that go out declare as reassuringly as ever the truths discovered by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore: that God is life, that God is love, and that His life and love are accessible through prayer to heal, to prosper, and to bless.
This year all over the earth, from city and village and farm more than six hundred thousand people will call on Silent Unity for spiritual help, more than six hundred thousand people will find a faith that they would not have found had it not been that sixty years ago in Kansas City a man and woman named Charles and Myrtle Fillmore "agreed to meet in silent soul communion ... all those who are in trouble, sickness and poverty, and who sincerely desire the help of the good Father."