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A Letter from Rev. Anna Shouse, Ph.D.

Rev. Anna Shouse, Ph.D.

Dear TruthUnity Readers,

Below is the letter I sent to the UWM and UWH Boards and CEOs on December 27, 2023. In it I express my perspective on Unity’s identity. I share it with you as an open letter and invite your thoughtful responses.

In the Love and Light of the Christ,

Rev. Anna
Rev. Anna Shouse, Ph.D.
January 17, 2024


Dear Friends:

I’m writing to express my concern regarding the current controversy over Unity’s identity. The exact details of the situation are not fully evident as the communication from leadership has been vague and/or coming through unofficial channels, including the gossip mill of social media and circulating emails. Though a storm is brewing there has been no joint statement from UWH and UWM. This lack of clear communication is disconcerting.

As nearly as I can determine, there is a dispute between UWH and UWM over whether Unity identifies or not as Christian. It seems to have arisen due to Rev. Shad Groverland, UWM President/CEO’s advocacy that Unity churches give a message congruent with the foundational teachings of metaphysical Christianity as expressed by co-founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. It appears that this dispute is at play both between the two organizations and amongst individual participants in the Unity movement regardless of their views of either organization. It appears that some believe this identity question was resolved fourteen years ago by a 2009-10 marketing survey, establishment of the non-profit Supporting Organization (S.O.), and the resulting branding initiative. It is now apparent that at least some people took this initiative to mean that Unity was no longer to be considered Christian. If it is accurate that a deeper decision to disassociate Unity from Christianity underlay the branding initiative, it is problematic on several levels. First, branding was invalidly conflated with Unity’s deep identity and consciousness. Second, this deeper meaning and great shift in identity was not communicated to those of us in the field. Third, the validity of the survey itself is questionable, (and is at any rate now outdated), and the interpretation of the data resulting from the survey is misleading. Data that were evenly split or a point or more favoring a Christian approach were interpreted as the survey participants “seeking balance” or disfavoring Christianity. Fourth, the most notable problem is that this decision to change the foundational identity of a whole spiritual movement was made by twenty-seven individuals based on a flawed marketing survey, not by an in-depth meaningful conversation and discernment of the whole Unity constituency.

I hope it goes without saying that it is an indisputable fact the consciousness and teachings upon which Unity was founded, developed, and carried out are Jesus Christ centered. On occasions too numerous to cite, the Fillmore’s wrote and spoke that Jesus Christ is the head of the Unity work. For example, in Weekly Unity Aug 11, 1923, Charles Fillmore wrote, “I tell you that Jesus Christ is in our midst and that Jesus Christ is the head of the Unity work, the head of a greater work that is to fill the whole land.” It is simply not possible to say that Unity, its teaching and theological identity, is not Christian. If there is to be a change in the Unity identity, that is only possible if one, two, or all three of the current non-profit organizations that legally own the name Unity decide to take it in a direction different from its foundation. Optimally, such a decision regarding identity should be made by the constituents of the Unity movement.

Unity’s metaphysical, mystical expression of Christianity has been a life-giving fountain for me for many years. I walk the Jesus Christ soul path, however imperfectly, and am delighted to have found this Unity thought stream and community. I would be deeply saddened to see the Jesus Christ consciousness dismissed from the organizations that represent Unity. To those who say, “Christianity is on the way out, we must modernize and bow to the times, the Fillmore’s understanding is outdated, Christianity excludes people,” I encourage looking at the robust following that Fr. Richard Rohr has developed teaching an understanding of Christianity very similar to that of the Fillmore’s. One of his recent books is entitled, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe. People are hungry for an expression of Christianity that is constructive, unifying, inclusive, empowering, one that invites them into the divine experience that God is present, powerful, and personally available.

Deciding the identity of Unity, the consciousness and thus the direction that underlies this whole movement, belongs to the many people who constitute this large spiritual community. The opportunity to have this essential conversation to discern our current identity and direction is before us. I encourage you as leaders of the three Unity organizations to develop a meaningful, respectful, skillfully implemented, widely inclusive, and deeply participatory dialogue for our community. To be thorough and effective this discernment process needs to take place over at least one year, and preferably two. It needs to conclude in a genuine consensus and/or a democratic vote. Establishing the foundational direction of a movement is a monumental spiritual work. It is not a marketing decision.

We must do the demanding labor of spiritual love and wisdom. The sacred task of discerning the greatest and highest Divine Will of good for the Unity movement, everyone involved in it, and all those we seek to bless through it, is calling us. To the degree we are sincere in this effort, setting aside our self-centered agendas, God will guide us. I challenge you to facilitate our Unity community to have this conversation through which we open to Divine Will and accept the outcome whatever it looks like. If you have questions for me or would like to talk further on this topic, please contact me and we can arrange a time.

In the Love and Light of the Christ,

Rev. Anna Shouse, Ph.D.
December 27, 2023

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