The History of Unity
Introduction to New Thought
The Unity spiritual movement began in the late 1800s and is based on prayer and the power of mind over body.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, a couple with three young boys living in Kansas City, had suffered lifelong physical ailments and constantly sought healing. They heard a lecture by a metaphysician named E.B. Weeks, and Myrtle came away with a startling new idea: “I am a child of God, and therefore I do not inherit sickness.” Myrtle incorporated affirmative prayer and mediation into her life and she was healed of her tuberculosis. Charles investigated spiritual principles and found relief from a childhood accident.
The Fillmores were devotees of Ralph Waldo Emerson and studied with the leading teachers of the day, including Mary Baker Eddy and Emma Curtis Hopkins. In 1889, Charles and Myrtle published a new periodical, Modern Thought, and were the first to include the writings of the then 27-year-old New Thought pioneer William Walker Atkinson.
A Growing Movement
In 1890, they announced a prayer group that would later be called Silent Unity. In 1891, Fillmore’s Unity magazine was first published.On December 7, 1892, Charles and Myrtle penned this Dedication and Covenant:
We, Charles Fillmore and Myrtle Fillmore, husband and wife, hereby dedicate ourselves, our time, our money, all we have and all we expect to have, to the Spirit of Truth, and through it, to the Society of Silent Unity.
It being understood and agreed that the said Spirit of Truth shall render unto us an equivalent for this dedication, in peace of mind, health of body, wisdom, understanding, love, life and an abundant supply of all things necessary to meet every want without our making any of these things the object of our existence.
In the presence of the Conscious Mind of Christ Jesus, this 7th day of December A.D. 1892
Dr. H. Emilie Cady published Lessons in Truth in the new magazine. This material later was compiled and published in a book by the same name, which served as a seminal work of the Unity Church. A second magazine was initiated in 1924, Daily Word, which now circulates around the globe.
Although Charles had no intention of making Unity into a denomination, his students wanted a more organized group. He and his wife were among the first ordained Unity ministers in 1906. Classes taught by the Fillmores eventually grew into a seminary and is now known as the Unity Worldwide Spiritual Institute, with about 600 churches and study groups worldwide.
The farm they initially established to grow produce for their vegetarian restaurant in downtown Kansas City is now Unity Village, Missouri, a 1200 acre incorporated town and the world headquarters for the enduring Unity movement.
Myrtle Fillmore died in 1931 and Charles Fillmore made his transition in 1948.