Trans-denominational Partnership

Published on: September 1, 2011

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Back in 2008, we had the opportunity to host Marianne Williamson here at Unity In Marin. We filled our chapel with 300 guests and sold overflow tickets to another 130 who watched on video in our adjacent Unity Hall. The event was a great success—and continued to bless us with fuller classes, increased attendance and exposure to the greater community.

It became very clear to us that hosting a nationally recognized figure was a great way to raise money and consciousness while exposing Unity and New Thought to a broader audience. The following year we contacted Deepak Chopra, to see if it was feasible to host him for an event. When we learned of his fee, we knew that it wouldn’t work. Even if we sold out, the cost of admission would be prohibitively high for us to raise any revenue for our efforts. When I told this to Deepak’s management, they mentioned that there was a woman from another spiritual community in our vicinity who had also inquired and that perhaps we should be in touch.

When I met Sue Rouda from the Golden Gate Center for Spiritual Living, it was clear that the two of us shared a vision. Sue had hosted many successful smaller events as event coordinator at her community, but was having the same trouble making the numbers work with the upfront cost and the risks involved. What if we could do something together that is bigger than anything we could do apart? Knowing that we have so many values in common, how could we leverage our resources for the good of all?

Rev Bill Englehart (left) and Rev Karyl Huntly (right) with Deepak Chopra at one of the events hosted by Unity in Marin and Golden Gate Center for Spiritual Living.

Rev Bill Englehart (left) and Rev Karyl Huntly (right) with Deepak Chopra at one of the events hosted by Unity in Marin and Golden Gate Center for Spiritual Living.

So, with the support and blessing of the Reverend Karyl Huntley from Golden Gate Center for Spiritual Living and the Reverend Bill Englehart from Unity In Marin, we formed a partnership between our communities and called it New Thought Productions. We agreed to share the risks and the rewards equally and that Spirit was in charge!

Together, we were able to shoulder the cost and risks of renting the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium— which holds 1,800 guests. We spent more than our annual advertising budget on promotion, but we were able to offset that by selling sponsorships and program ads.

The first year we produced an inspirational and musical event featuring Michael Bernard Beckwith and Niki Harris from the Agape International Spiritual Center. Last year, we had over 1,500 guests for Dr. Deepak Chopra, along with musical guests Here II Here, Desiree Goyette, and Bohdi Setchko. And, back by popular demand this year on October 21, will be Michael Bernard Beckwith, along with Rickie Byars Beckwith and a Bay Area New Thought Mass Choir.

This unique partnership continues to bless our two communities.

Joshua Holmes

Joshua was the director of development at Unity in Marin from 2001-2014.

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