When I first came to the Hawaiian Islands in 2005, every church was being led by a licensed and ordained Unity minister. In just a few years, I was the only one left. Fueled by a church-wide survey that indicated a passion for outreach, we funded and began a program that helped spiritual leaders from the neighboring islands to come to Honolulu and get the SEE courses they needed to enter the licensed Unity teacher (LUT) program. We had a mandate to spread the gospel of Unity, and we were beginning.
Internationally, this began with the formation of a “sister church” relationship with Unity of Melbourne, Australia. We offered live-streaming classes and made several trips to provide Spiritual Education and Enrichment (SEE) intensives. While there, we connected with a couple of ushers, who had—under the guidance of Spirit—initiated the building of two nursery schools and a secondary school in a small village near Zomba, in Malawi, Africa. Of course they needed support.
We invited them to speak at our church in Honolulu, and in one day raised over $18,000.00—enough to buy a grain mill for them and to erect a building to house it in. Many in our church family “sponsored” their young people, providing education, meals and books for only $120 a year.
Along the way, we also began a beautiful relationship with Unity of Auckland, New Zealand. A group of 14 from our church went to Auckland to join them in the celebration of their 40th anniversary of Unity in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, at home we had begun serving the homeless on the beach, preparing a meal for an average of 150 every week, and giving them a short Unity message. We also connected with a local AIDS/HIV residential treatment facility, and began providing a meal-a-week for all their residents. Another group began going to local nursing and retirement homes, taking music and message to them once a month. Another group goes to the local men’s shelter and serves meals there twice a month. There are so many ways to serve.
To strengthen the message among our own members, we began offering an SEE intensive every month! We now have a ministerial intern program that helps people from across the world get the SEE courses they need and the training necessary to lead a church.
One of our former congregants, who wanted to become a Unity minister, returned to his home in Santiago, Chile. After some coaching and conversation, he and a group of supporters organized a visit for me and the planning of an informational meeting, anticipating 120 people. Over 200 attended! It was standing room only for Chileans who wanted to know about this thing called “Unity.”
I stayed for a brief while and helped this young man, Christian Christi, make plans for his first true Unity gathering. On September 15 of this year they held their first meeting and over 40 people attended. All reports show it was a huge success. Christian is now taking online classes and will soon be in Honolulu for some intensive SEE courses and, of course, more training!
We have connected with Florence Monzon, a LUT from Las Vegas, who is originally from Manila—and who wanted to return to the Philippines and start a Unity ministry. We took Florence as a ministerial intern, and in November, she took up residence in Manila and is planning for the first Unity service in the Philippines on January 4, 2012. I and others from our church will be there to love and support her as she steps into her own and begins to spread a message of Truth and transformation.
These ventures come with an investment of time, energy and money; and yet I feel that our primary responsibility is to answer the call and trust. For many years now, our guiding mantra has been: impact generates income. At challenging financial moments we did not ask, “How can we get more money?” Instead, we asked, “How can we give more?” The law of giving and receiving works. Period.
In The Revealing Word, Charles Fillmore wrote about the way we can jump into “the river of life.” Though he was addressing these words to individuals, I believe they apply to spiritual communities as well. He said: “[We] can be truly quickened with new life and vitalized in mind and body only by consciously contacting Spirit. This contact is made through prayer, meditation, and good works.”
I always want our spiritual community to be vitalized in corporate mind and body. I know that this happens when we devote time to prayer, meditation … and good works. For us, those “good works” mean reaching out—and in—to the world around us.
This article was written by Rev Sky St. John, minister at Unity Church of Hawaii, in Honolulu until he made his transition from this physical world to Spirit on Dec. 19, 2013. He previously served as minister at Unity Church of Omaha for five years, following a two year stint as Minister of Retreats at Unity Village. He was loved by many.