Early History of Unity
“A Unity Chronology” By: The Reverend James Sherman
1845 Mary Caroline Page (Myrtle Fillmore) born in Pagetown, Ohio on August 6th 1845. She disliked the name and called herself Myrtle. She graduated from Oberlin College and became a teacher. She was reared in the belief that she was a semi-invalid and had inherited tuberculosis.
1854 Charles Fillmore, born in St. Cloud, Minnesota on August 22. At the age of 9 he was in a skating accident; his hip was dislocated and a disease of the hip followed leaving him with a withered leg.
1876-1884 Charles & Myrtle met in 1876 and were married in 1881. Charles was 27 & Myrtle was 36. Charles worked as an assayer, a mule-team driver and in real estate in Colorado. Lowell Fillmore was born in 1882. In 1884 they moved to Kansas City, Missouri. Rickert Fillmore was born in 1884.
1886-1889 Myrtle’s health declined to a near-terminal stage (TB) at the point that she and her husband attended a lecture which helped to change her life. The lecturer was a representative of “The Hopkins’ Metaphysical Association” founded by Emma Curtis Hopkins. Mrs. Hopkins later organized the “Chicago Christian Science Theological Seminary”. By 1888 Myrtle Fillmore’s tubercular condition is completely cleared. About this time the Fillmore’s begin conducting classes in their home.
1889 The Fillmore’s began publication of ‘Modern Thought’ magazine (forerunner of Unity magazine). The first issue (April) contained articles dealing with Christian Science, Unitarianism, Rosicusianism, Theosophy and suggestions for psychic development. The heading of the magazine stated: “Devoted to the spiritualization of humanity from an independent standpoint”. The October issue announced the formation of a “center” for Christian or metaphysical science which was meeting in rented quarters in downtown Kansas City. The Fillmores have a third son, Royal.
1890 Charles Fillmore is ordained by Emma Curtis Hopkins. The “Society of Silent Help” (now called “Silent Unity”) is established.
1891 The name “Unity” was officially adopted.
1893 The first issue of “Wee Wisdom” magazine was published.
1894 The first lessons of the “Lessons in Truth” series were published in “Unity” magazine. Later, these articles were collected and published as Unity’s first book, “Lessons in Truth”, by Dr. Emily Cady.
1895 The Fillmores became vegetarians.
1903 Unity Society of Practical Christianity was incorporated. (The first incorporated Unity ministry) Note: Myrtle was 58; Charles was 49.
1905 Unity Inn, a vegetarian cafeteria, was opened.
1906 Unity dedicates its first building as “a church, a school and a health dispensary…open continuously”. “Our aim is to have these practical spiritual centers established everywhere.” Unity ordained it first ministers. Charles and Myrtle were ordained in addition to seven others.
1909 The Unity Correspondence School was established.
1914 Unity School of Christianity was incorporated. (The organization was structured as a profit corporation with the 50 shares of stock divided among four members of the Fillmore family. Since there were no income tax laws until 1916, there was no tax liability. The choice to incorporate as a profit corporation appears to be based on the desire of the founders to control the direction and development of their growing spiritual movement.)
1918 Under mounting criticism and questions regarding “ownership” of Unity, the Fillmores made a Declaration of Trust which was published in Unity magazine in August. (It should be noted that the Fillmore’s published letters of criticism in Unity magazine along with letters of praise.)
1920 58 acres of property was purchased on the outskirts of Kansas City, Missouri which became the nucleus for “Unity City” later known as Unity Village.
1921 Unity School of Christianity was notified that the U.S. Tax Department considered them to be in arrears on income taxes for 1917 through to 1920 in the amount of $32,000. The Bylaws of Unity School are changed to state that “all profits of this organization shall be used to carry out the purposes of the organization: and that ” no dividends shall ever be declared or paid”.
1923 Questions from supporters continued and the Fillmores entered into a second “Declaration of Trust”.
1924 Unity School purchased a radio station in Kansas City which they held until 1934. In 1924 they also began publication of “Unity Daily Word”, a daily devotional magazine. Another of their projects was the “School of Music”, the purpose of which was to awaken the “inner consciousness of melody, harmony and rhythm”. (This project was abandoned three years later)
1925 Unity School began to place its monthly “Healing and Prosperity Thoughts” on phonograph
records. These were offered at a subscription price of three dollars per year. About this time motion pictures were produced by the Unity Field Department to arouse the interest of distant members in the work of Unity.
1926 A landmark decision was made by the U.S. Tax
Appeals Court. In their ruling they stated that “religion and education dominate its (Unity School’s) activities and all else is incidental to this end….(Unity School) was, therefore exempt from tax and there is no deficiency”. Thus, the Tax Court permitted Unity’s stockholding structure to continue, while recognizing it as a non-profit organization.
In 1926 the Fillmores visited New York City and, for the first time, met Dr. Emily Cady.
1927 An article in Unity magazine announced the development of Unity City (March). It was to be built on the properties which had been purchased on the outskirts of Kansas City, which by this date totaled 1100 acres. “Unity City shall be first, last and always an educational city, a community where all the people will be at school, learning more each day about the law of God and the application of that law to human affairs…It will be a community school inculcating spiritual, ethical and industrial knowledge. All members of the city, regardless of age, will be pupils of the school.”
1928 The first conference of Unity leaders, teachers and ministers was held. (Note: Myrtle’s age: 83; Charles’age: 74)
1929 The Tower and Silent Unity buildings were completed at Unity Village.
1933 Myrtle Fillmore died. The Unity Training School began sessions. “The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary” was published.
1933 Charles Fillmore retired as minister of Unity Society of Practical Christianity. He and Cora Dedrick were married.
1939 “Unity Daily Word” changed its name to “Daily Word”.
1948 Charles Fillmore died.
1949 The administration building at Unity Village was completed and the headquarters activities moved out of downtown Kansas City.
1964 Unity School began a total reorganization of its departments and operations. A series of organizational “bulletins” were produced specifying the changes. One of these, “Bulleting 4”, announced the phasing out of the Field Department and encouraged the body of Unity ministers, then loosely organized as the Unity Ministers’ Association, to incorporate and take care of their own needs.
1966 The Association of Unity Churches (AUC) became the successor body to the UMA.
1969 The AUC assumed primary responsibility for training Unity ministers.
1979 The Association of Unity Churches (Canada) was incorporated
led by Unity Church of Truth and The Reverend James Sherman
UNITY’S CO-FOUNDERS: CHARLES & MYRTLE FILLMORE
Unity’s Most Basic Principles – Myrtle Fillmore
“I do not believe in evil. I believe in Good.
I do not believe in sin. I believe in Truth.
I do not believe in want. I believe in Abundance.
I do not believe in death. I believe in Life.
I do not believe in ignorance. I believe in Intelligence.
There are no discords in my being. Being is peace.
My faith, understanding and love are becoming one.
‘What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’”
“THE INSPIRATION FOR MYRTLE’S HEALING:” “I am a child of God and therefore I do not inherit sickness”
“Unity is dedicated to the open mind, to the continuous quest for Truth. It seeks not to tell you what to think, how to define God, what creeds to accept. Unity seeks only to teach you how to think, how to pray – so that you can formulate your own definition of God, experience your own communion with God, and find your own distinctly personal revelation of Truth.”Eric Butterworth, “Unity: a Quest for Truth”
“Unity sought no converts: this is what made it distinctive and unique in the days of its youth. It launched no missionary activity. It wanted nothing for itself except the fellowship of students of truth, students who would return to their churches strengthened and inspired.” Marcus Bach
UNITY’S HEADQUARTERS, ‘UNITY VILLAGE’, LEE SUMMIT, MO
The grounds include Silent Unity, the Unity School for Religious Studies, the Village Chapel, the Unity School Library and Heritage Rooms and a publishing concern that produces books, cassette tapes, and radio and television programs. The program called Silent Unity offers a 24-hour a day prayer service, and in the Silent Unity building, a prayer vigil is kept without interruption.
2005 Unity Church of Truth (Toronto) disaffiliated from the Association of Unity Churches Canada
2008 Unity Church of Truth (Toronto) disaffiliated from the International Association of Unity Churches (now operating under the name of Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM)
Unity Church of Truth continues to be an Independent and Autonomous Religious Body