How Unity Began

Charles and Myrtle Fillmore

Charles and Myrtle Fillmore

Unity was founded in the early 1890s by Myrtle and Charles Fillmore, not to be a separate church or religious denomination, but as a spiritual movement within religions, dedicated to helping people of all faiths apply positive spiritual principles to better their lives.

In 1886, Myrtle became very ill. She had been “frail” as a child, was sick throughout most of her life and was told there was nothing she could do about it. After attending a lecture about the power of positive prayer, her faith in God became stronger, and she began spending untold hours in prayer and meditation, seeing health and strength for herself, affirming, “I am a child of God, and therefore I do not inherit sickness.”

Within two years, Myrtle was well. She lived on 45 years more, healthy and vital, making her transition at age 86.

Charles had always been a curious sort, reading classical authors such as Shakespeare, Tennyson, Emerson and Lowell as a very young man. He also immersed himself with in-depth study of world religions and philosophies, and in the link between religion and science. Today, quantum physics scientists are discovering this link, finding – and proving – the undisputable connection between the power of the human mind and it’s effect on the body.

Charles and Myrtle began writing about their beliefs, and shortly thereafter, Unity was born. The Unity Movement was started in 1889 with the publishing of Modern Thought, a national monthly magazine devoted to spiritual questions (published today as Unity Magazine). Wee Wisdom, a monthly magazine for children, offering daily uplifting and self-affirming messages, followed in 1893; and in 1894, Lessons In Truth, by H. Emilie Cady, was the first Unity book to be published. Over the years, Lessons In Truth has been translated into 11 languages, including Braille, and has sold over two million copies. It is still in use today as one of the major study guides for Unity.

Using their publications, Myrtle and Charles were able to inform people about the Society of Silent Help, later renamed Silent Unity. For more than a century, people of all faiths, traditions and backgrounds have been calling Silent Unity (1-800-NOW-PRAY) with their prayer requests. Each request is held in constant silent prayer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 30 days.

In 1903, The Unity Society of Practical Christianity became the first Unity Church; and as the publishing business grew, The Unity School of Christianity was formed to handle the Fillmores’ publishing and educational work.

The first issue of Daily Word was published in July 1924, and has been continuously published ever since. Many people of all faith traditions are avid readers of Daily Word, receiving its positive and uplifting messages for each day, without even realizing it is a publication of Unity.

Unity Defined by Co-Founder Charles Fillmore

“Unity is a link in the great educational movement inaugurated by Jesus Christ; our objective is to discern the truth in Christianity and prove it. The truth that we teach is not new; neither do we claim special revelations or discovery of new religious principles. Our purpose is to help and teach mankind to use and prove the eternal Truth taught by the Master.”

Our History

Unity Center of Valley Stream, New York, was founded in January 1950 by a small group of women dedicated to the study of Truth. The new fellowship, under the direction of Reverend Stella Wren, met regularly for study and worship in a room over the old Valley Stream post office where the spiritual foundation of the present church was firmly established. Its name was changed and recorded as the Unity Church of Christianity of Valley Stream.

 

In 1956, Unity Church of Christianity moved to larger quarters over a post office in Lynbrook. Later that same year, purchased a building at 14 East Mineola Avenue, Valley Stream. Unity’s new home which was originally built as a stable was over one hundred years old and had been houses of worship to the Temple Gates of Zion, a Jewish congregation and the Presbyterian church. The old building which was in need of extensive rehabilitation was transformed into an attractive sanctuary with an office for the Minister. A few years later another room was added which served both as a kitchen and classroom.

 

Reverend Stella Wren retired in 1968 (18 years) and was briefly replaced by Reverend Frank Guidici. In January 1969, Reverend E. Pat Filiault, who started as a member of the church in 1950, answered the call to come back as minister. Reverend Pat remembers a near disaster during her first few years at church. Weighed down by a heavy snow on the roof, one wall buckled and nearly collapsed. The congregation responded by shoring up the foundation, roof and wall with tension cabling. While under re-construction, the Christmas service was still held, a propane fired-gas stove for heat, scaffolding decorating the Nativity scene, the church once again had the appearance of a stable. The church was cold from the draft of construction but warmed by the hearts and songs of the carolers.

 

In 1977, the old Dutch colonial home behind the church was purchased. The home was named, Unity House, and gave the members needed room for classes and offices. The backyard was transformed into a Meditation Garden.

 

In 1985, the congregation realized the need for additional space to expand and started a building fund. By 1988 the building fund met its goal and construction for a new sanctuary began. The new sanctuary building was completed and dedicated on June 25, 1989. The old sanctuary was connected to the new sanctuary and transformed into the Youth Education and Activity Center. In 1993, Reverend Pat retired (24 years) and was replaced by Reverend Joe Rowe, who further expanded the membership and lay ministry volunteer program till his retirement in 2004 (11 years). In 2004, Reverend Joanna Keneally, who led the church Youth Education Program, accepted the call to minister the church until her retirement in 2019 (15 years). In 2019, Reverend Charles Foley, who also had led the Youth Education Program, accepted the call to minister our church family.

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