One of the more recent figures in the Unity Movement who has greatly contributed to it, is Ed Rabel. He has been a teacher for many ministers and has therefore, been an integral part in their development. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the Unity Movement is his great insights into the metaphysical interpretation of the Bible, and his dedication to the teachings of Jesus Christ as interpreted by Charles Fillmore. I found this short but practical assignment, very helpful and interesting. Having spent some time interviewing Ed Rabel and taking his classes in Truth Fundamentals and Bible Interpretation has given me a deeper appreciation of the man, his ideals, and his way of living and thinking.
Ed Rabel was born and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he stayed until he went into the Navy for World War II. He was one of three children, another brother and a half sister. It is interesting to note that his sister's picture is in the archives of Unity's Heritage Room in the library, as she was here at the Village with a YOU group on the day that Charles Fillmore made his transition.
Ed found most of his schooling rather boring and dull, as he was usually ahead of his time in thinking. He found that most of his learning took place from his own efforts and research. He has a great love for reading which goes back to when he was a young boy - he calls this his "saving grace" through many years of schooling. His early childhood was given to a strict Catholic discipline, but after the second grade he went to Public Schools. His brother and he went to their mother at the age of 12 and told her that they were not going to go to the Catholic Church anymore, which she took very hard, but to which the boys stood their ground. Later on, as Ed was influenced by Unity's way of prayer, he sums up his education as being self education through meditation and prayer, observation, reading and his own efforts and research.
Among the people who influenced his early years were his 6 aunts. Ed says they were, "a very close family." They had a deep love for one another and his home seemed to be the headquarters for the family to meet. He has a special remembrance for his Aunt Tillie because she "gave me an allowance as a boy!" and who wouldn't enjoy this kind of an aunt. He feels that his early religious training came from the example of this loving family who never quarreled, but showed a love for one another and for all people.
Ed came into Unity after his mother had been in the movement for awhile. He was much impressed in the improvement in his mother in every area of her life, but this did not bring him into the movement until he had a serious health problem to meet himself. He had a chronic teeth problem and not enough money to take care of them. He began using prayer and some of the things he heard Unity taught and this application of spiritual principles brought quick results. The money was there and this spiritual awakening through prayer changed his life.
Ed told me the story of one Christmas when he did not have the money to buy his mother a present. When he called to wish her a happy Christmas she told him that if he would go to a Unity service for her on Christmas day that would make her very happy. And so he did. He went and heard Georgianna T. West speak and from that time on, he went three times a week for two years. From there he went to Long Island and worked with Stella Wren who encouraged him to apply for the Ministry. Ed had been taking the correspondence courses and doing very well with "exceptional" comments from the teachers. When Ed arrived for training in the Ministerial School he was one day late and so he had to wait for a year to begin his studies. He spent the year working in Silent Unity and doing his research in the library and found this year to be a very beneficial year for him and so didn't mind waiting at all. He felt his consciousness was developed through experience and that it was a wonderful time to be at the Village.
In speaking with Phil White about sharing a co-ministry with Ed in San Diego in the Spring and Fall of 1959, he says that Ed Rabel's uniqueness in the movement is his contribution into the insights of Bible' Interpretation. There are five areas in which Phil believes Ed has contributed to the Movement:
Ed's method is that he "he really centers in on a simple basic Unity point and intensifies the meaning of it."
Ed has a very special relationship with the students development of consciousness.
His method of communication is that he gets us to reflect on what he says and it changes our life.
Ed has great articulation of the meaning of Jesus Christ teachings.
He has contributed many tapes to the movement for speaking the power of the word.
From a source perspective Phil feels that Ed has been primarily responsible for the insights between the teachings of "The Work" by Maurice Nicoll and Unity's teachings. When Phil and Ed worked together in Ministry they communicated well and divided the duties of ministry; the Sunday services were shared each week, but Phil did the weddings and funerals and most of the counseling, while Ed did most of the teaching. Phil said that anyone in the movement who has debated with Ed's views has had to give up their opposing view in regards to metaphysical interpretation of the Bible.
In a three hour interview with Ed, I asked him some basic questions and the following pages give his specific answers to these questions.
1) Why did you become a Unity Minister?
Why? Because I decided that the Unity Teachings were the most important teachings on earth. I wanted to be involved in the sharing of those teachings with other people and there as no better way to do it than be a Unity Minister. And it just so happened at the time when I had that desire, that was the time Silent Unity was printing invitations in the Daily Word for men only to apply — men of a certain age category and with certain education background, who would be able to work in Silent Unity to earn wages. Now that coupled with my desire concerning the teachings was irresistible. And my situation in life at the time was also just right.
2) How long had you been in Unity?
I had been acquainted with Unity for 3 years, but did not have serious involvement with it until 2 years before I applied for Ministerial School.
3) What kind of reception did you first receive with your metaphysical interpretation of the Bible?
The first reaction was here at the school while I was a student. I let it be known I was going to specialize in Bible Interpretation and the response was skepticism as to whether it would work or not. There were three concerns:
whether we (Unity) wanted it
whether I was the right person to do it.
whether it would be received.
There was no down right opposition to it. Rather there was just a "show us" attitude. Now in the field, in the churches, there was just enthusiasm - total approval and total support. There was no resistance whatever.
4) What was your first field ministry? How about Interim ministry?
My first ministry was in San Diego, where I replaced Marie Flemming who retired after 10 years. I did much 'substitute or supply' work which interim work was called then. I get so fond of these churches that its getting harder to leave after the time is fulfilled. I think I have grown, matured, and mellowed a lot in the last 13 years. And now I have become more loving, quicker and more deeply than I was as a youngster. Then I was trying to make a name for myself in the movement, to build a reputation, and so I was mostly concerned in doing a good job and increasing my fame, my popularity, justifying myself. But I don't feel that any more, now I feel the pleasure of serving.
5) In the Ministry do you see teaching as the primary thing for you at this time?
Yes, I feel in a Unity Ministry the primary thing is Education with counseling and prayer group leadership all together.
6) What do you see as your basic contribution to the Ministry of Unity?
My basic contribution is twofold:
I have been instrumental in adding a dimension of logic to our basic teachings. I have taken a good part in clarifying many of our statements in the sense of explaining why we accept them - why they are the doctrine of Unity.
My really important contribution has been to make people, especially my fellow Ministers, more aware of the importance of the 12 powers of man and Bible interpretation. I think that I came along when somebody had to take the role of specializing in those, and proving to the movement that people wanted it - that they were interested - that they were fascinating but undeveloped areas of the unity Teaching. Mr. Fillmore had pioneered but hadn't been able to expand or develop these areas and it was up to someone to take up where he left off.
7) Do you ever plan to write a book?
No, I'm not interested in writing. It is an area of expression that has never appealed to me. I believe in the power of the spoken word more than in the power of the printed word mostly because we have so many printed lessons. I think what we need is that someone who is alive speak the message with communication and does it constantly - regularly. That really pumps the vital energy into the consciousness of the movement.
8) Would you share some specific practical applications of Truth in your life that you have found beneficial?
Possibly the most important thing in our teachings which directly changed my life and developed me into what I am, is the use of denial and affirmations correctly. To me, that is possibly the most important single aspect of our teachings - that denial and affirmations are the most effective form of prayer and consciousness conditioning.
The second is the value or the power of Silence and Stillness. These are not nothings. These are the realm of all power and strength - Silence and Stillness. And the other side of the coin is that the danger of negative emotions is made clear to me through Unity Teachings. They are a constant and very real danger to man's consciousness and the way to deal with them effectively is through denial and affirmation taking the place of identifying with the negative emotion.
9) Charles Fillmore spent long hours in the Silence. How do you feel about this?
I think long periods isn't the important thing. I think genuine periods or concentrated periods rather than the length of time is important. You can have a complete Silence experience in 5 minutes, if you devote your whole attention and being to it.
10) What are the three most influential events in the history of the Unity Movement as you see them?
I would say that the really crucial events occurred during the lifetimes of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and that anything that has happened since then have been simply the results or a replaying of what they established.
The decision to have a prayer ministry as the heart of the movement and calling it Silent Unity and the policies that went along with that decision were of vital importance.
When the Fillmore's decided to make Jesus Christ and him only as the religious head of this movement. They deliberately chose Jesus Christ as the central figure of authority - the wayshower of the movement.and this was a very significant thing,
Not charging for our services is important. Everything is on a love offering basis, except books.
If I may, I would like to touch on what I think was a mistake in the Unity movement. I may be the only person who feels this way, but I do feel it very keenly and I still feel it. I think a mistake was made when we moved the headquarters out of the Kansas City area - out into the country. The heart of the Unity Movement should have stayed in the Kansas City urban area, in the midst of the busy city life. I still think it is a mistake and I hope that someday it is corrected."
11) How do you see the changes in the Movement?
I think every humanly operated movement goes through cycles, whether it is religious or not. But I think we want through a cycle when we attracted a lot of people who were rebelling against the orthodox christian upbringing where Jesus Christ was shoved down their throats, distorted into a deity with grotesque teachings of him. For a while we threw out the baby with the bathwater, and then we realized the baby was missing, and now we are putting Jesus back where he rightly belongs.
12) In what direction do you see the movement going?
I see it going in a forward direction on higher and higher levels of operation. The Unity Movement is in no danger of fizzling as other movements have because:
The solid foundation based on Truth and the Principles the Fillmore's gave us.
The integrity of the administration of the movement over the years has been good. I don't say infallible, but there is an obvious basic integrity and good will both here a&4 at the school and in the field.
The high caliber of students we seem to be attracting to the Ministry.
There are certain teachings in the Unity repertoire that are now emerging and coming forward where they used to be in the background. This is a sure sign of evolution and improvement and among these are; the role of Divine Ideas
This is a healthy sign when a religion or movement is growing nearer to Spiritual Principle."
13) Do you think the Movement is getting in any way denominationalized?
I think it is. It has become a denomination. It couldn't escape it. You can't teach doctrines, you can't have standards, you can't have ethics or requirements for ordination and not become a denomination. But the word denomination is not a bad word. Unity is a denomination in so far as it is a distinctive religious teaching. But what kind of denomination is it? I would say it is the kind with the highest form of Esoteric Christianity and practicality. Then denomination becomes a very high compliment.
14) How do you think Charles and Myrtle Fillmore would see the work of Unity today as it is?
I think they would be very proud of it, especially what is happening in the field to our churches. I think they would be sad about some of the things that have happened at headquarters. That's only to be expected. I think they might agree with me that we should go back to the city. But I think they would be very happy at how much they are loved respected and revered more than ever.
15) How many field ministries have you been in so far?
There have been five; San Diego, Boston, Toronto, Tacoma and then back to Toronto, Canada. The last time in Toronto it was as an Associate Minister. I have only done this once and it was a good experience, but not for everyone's temperament. The ideal thing is if those two roles (Minister and Associate) clarified before the relationship begins. Our Boards are becoming more and more the administrators and the Minister the spiritual leader.
16) What is the greatest joy in your Unity Ministry Work Career?
To give a lesson that I know has meaning and impact and is enjoyable for the students, whether a congregation, an enrolled class or even a counseling situation. If I know the words coming from me are are enjoyed, understood, and being appreciated and causing uplifting in consciousness - this is a real joy. Another thing I like about being in the Ministry is the free time a minister can have to do walking. Walking has become one of my greatest enjoyments. You can do some tremendous creative work in your mind.
17) What about social life for you with people?
I enjoy the company of people, but I like spontaneous association rather than structured social life, I let life arrange this for me. If you are in tune with Spirit, if your heart is right with God life itself brings you these spontaneous opportunities for socializing. I enjoy people and company but I enjoy solitude also. The key word is enjoyment.
Having had the opportunity to be in Ed's classes and getting to know him a little better has been a blessing for me. He is truly a man of integrity, honest with himself and with others. He calls things as he sees them and has a strong sensitivity for the teachings of the Fillmores and the messages of Jesus Christ. One of his more recent ideas brought to light is that it is no longer correct to say we are "spiritual beings" but rather we are "whole beings" and we have a spiritual identity and spiritual nature. This is nowhere in the Unity Teachings but an insight of Ed's as he, along with us unfolds in greater understanding and shares his wisdom with us, his students.
Ed Eabel's only attachment is to the movement. He fully trusts Spirit and consents to His will. Spirit has arranged his life to live the way he nas so he enjoys it. Support from Unity School he says are his spiritual parents.
I am grateful for the opportunity to do this paper and appreciate Ed Rabel's wonderful cooperation with me. Blessing upon you, Connie, The School, and Ed Rabel as we all go forward to do God's work.