This letter is to update you on what is happening with our Alternative Unity Ministries (AUMs). In joyful service to this important growing edge of our Unity movement, we, the Alternative Unity Ministries Team of Unity Worldwide Ministries, have created a revision of the Alternative Unity Ministries Manual. The newly revised manual has emerged from the efforts of many great team members over years of service—and our work has just begun.
As current AUMs continue their great service, and new ones come into being, our manual will continue to evolve as we come to know and understand the most spirit-centered and practical ways of working with these wonderful ministries and those who lead them. Please note that each page reference in this letter comes from the Alternative Unity Ministries Manual.
First and foremost, we acknowledge the Spirit of God as our Source and honor those who are called to serve. Our dedication reads as follows:
This Alternative Unity Ministries Manual is dedicated to the Spirit of God as it expresses in and through the work of the Unity leaders who uplift our world by creating, sustaining, and sharing spiritual Truth and transformation through Alternative Unity Ministries. (page 3)
Next, we define what an Alternative Unity Ministry is, both in general function and in its relationship with Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM). Our definition reads as follows:
General: An Alternative Unity Ministry (or AUM) is a religious organization created to bring Unity teachings and practices to the world through core functions that are distinct from that of a traditional Unity church ministry.
UWM/AUCI Membership: As an approved ministry, the AUM would be a member of the Association of Unity Churches International (doing business as Unity Worldwide Ministries) with the same rights, privileges and membership obligations of other Unity Ministries. (page 5)
The Criteria for Alternative Unity Ministries were revised to expand leadership possibilities, offer options for tax-exempt status, and align as closely as possible with criteria for other UWM member ministries while at the same time recognizing the unique organizational requisites of an AUM. The following is an excerpt of the highlights for the criteria found on page 7 of the manual from Steve Colladay’s letter (page 2):
- Credentialed AUM leaders now include: Ordained or licensed Unity minister, licensed Unity teacher, or a spiritual leader under special dispensation recognized and approved by the UWM Board of Trustees.
- All United States (U.S.) Alternative Unity Ministries must be religious organizations with IRS tax-exempt status. Non-U.S. AUMs may apply without obtaining 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status provided their national/regional credentialing body approves and they reasonably approximate U.S. criteria for tax-exempt status.
- All incorporated AUMs in existence as of October 1, 2013, that are under the UWM/AUCI group tax exemption are grandfathered in as full-status Alternative Unity Ministries provided they continue to submit the annual Ministry and Finance Report to Unity Worldwide Ministries.
The Application Procedure and Approval Process were revised with the intention of maintaining the primary elements of a good business plan format for a new organization, while at the same time focusing on what is necessary for the integrity and viability of a “religious organization” or ministry. This includes templates for Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws (pages 15-24), as well as instructions on obtaining a Federal Employer Identification Number (page 14) and a form for declaring the Tax-Exempt Status of the organization (page 25).
Finally, there is the Checklist (pages 26-27) to assure everything is lined up for the approval process, which ultimately relies on the decision from the UWM Board of Trustees.
Our Alternative Unity Ministries Team will continue to review and revise the manual, as well as look into what can be done for greater networking, communication, and support within the body of Alternative Unity Ministries—both regionally and internationally. We will be looking to share with each other best strategies for getting started, for maintaining and growing an AUM organization, for planning and marketing our services, and most of all—for being anchored in the Spirit of God that called us to this unique and incredible form of ministry.
If you are interested in joining our team, please contact Steve Colladay at [email protected], or myself at [email protected] Also, if you are part of an AUM, have any interest in starting one, or are simply curious about them, please contact us. We will be glad to hear from you!
With Great Love and God’s Blessings,
Rev Laura Barrett Bennett, Acting Chair
and the Alternative Unity Ministries Ministry Team