In a major metropolitan city in Southern Florida sits Unity on the Bay (UOB). It is a very powerful, diverse community and Rev Chris Jackson serves as its senior minister. The spiritual community has an effectual board of trustees and a committed creative spiritual group of people. As a community of transformation and change, their actions truly speak louder than words. Let’s take a look at how this community is making a positive difference in our world.
UOB is involved, committed and fueled by a keen desire to be a force in Miami to end hunger in South Florida.
On the first Sunday of every month, a team of dedicated volunteers gathers to caravan over to Chapman Partnership to feed the homeless. Not only have they had a long-standing tradition of over 25 years in working with Chapman Partnership, where they provide food each month for 400+ homeless people, but in September 2015 they hosted the “Ending Hunger in South Florida” Symposium for the second year in a row. Feeding the people is front and center to their efforts.
Food Distribution Centers Coordination
When Jesus said feed my people (John 21:17), this spiritual community took it to heart. They went about doing precisely that.
There is “enough food. The food is there. It’s not a lack of food,” said Rev Chris. With a higher purview, one can see that it’s the distribution that is ineffective. It’s a matter of connecting and coordinating the organizations in effective distribution of the food. Congregant Jody Johnson, a very active member who is a driving force behind this effort, dedicates her time, energy and talents to this program and assists in linking various food bank organizations to one another.
Jesus said feed my people; Unity on the Bay responded with: “Yes, we will.”
Building a New Home
Unity on the Bay, while busily organizing and feeding the hungry people in Miami, is also in the midst of transformation. June 4, 2015, turned out to be an auspicious day in the near 90-year history of UOB. The community body voted to release their current space and to work with developers to build a new home. Their website states: “The Edgewater neighborhood, home to Unity on the Bay for more than fifty years, is experiencing an incredible revitalization. As part of this change, Unity on the Bay has the miraculous opportunity to become a state-of-the-art spiritual, healing, cultural and community center providing for the needs of thousands of people.”
According to Rev Chris, they have set their intention for the creation of their new facility to have a multi-pronged approach including: spiritual-worship space, a community center (with a plan to have refrigeration units on-site for food storage), performing arts, healing arts and children’s arts—all within this “miraculous opportunity.”
It is a major work and tremendous change. A report to the community stated, “There is great power in collective vision, and we are grateful for and proud of the spiritual maturity demonstrated by our members in arriving at this historic moment.” Unity on the Bay is expressing itself in a big expansive way. It is a Unity center with great power in bringing to fruition their collective vision. “It is time for a transformation.”
They also stated, “Our new property will be large enough to accommodate the dreams established in our strategic plan developed nearly two years ago.”
To further support this collective vision, they created the following affirmation:
“We give thanks that Unity on the Bay’s right and perfect future home is manifesting under the guidance of God.”
As Unity leaders, as Unity Worldwide Ministries, let us all affirm this positive declaration with them, in our hearts, in our prayers and hold this vision with them. Let us too hold a vision of a new property that will be large enough to accommodate their dreams. It will have to be big and spacious and beautiful to house this remarkable spiritual community, their presence and all of their community outreach programs.
Legislation for Transgender Rights
This collective consciousness also gets involved in new laws and the legislative process. When Rev Chris and I were talking about this topic, he shared the following:
A couple of years ago I was asked by a local equal rights organization, Save Dade (we are located in Dade county), to attend a county commissioners’ meeting regarding a bill for transgender rights. When I entered the room, I was surprised to see hundreds of other attendees. It didn’t take me long to realize that the vast majority of them were representing the Christian Coalition, a local group of conservatives with an astounding competency for almost instantly mobilizing themselves. I was quickly reminded of how impressively their strong and outspoken opposition can be activated. It strengthened my resolve to become part of a more effective force to stand up for transgender rights. In the months to follow, we made the congregation of Unity on the Bay more aware of transgender issues and participated in a rally in which other, more liberal religious organizations were represented. Our representation increased dramatically and the commissioners ultimately voted in favor of adding transgender rights. I am very grateful to serve a spiritual community that was able to rally around such an important and inclusive effort.
About Our Community…
When I asked Chris what he loves about his ministry at Unity on the Bay, he responded, “It’s the people. I love the people. Some places ‘talk’ about being inclusive, but when you get involved you find that it’s really just that, ‘talk.’ But here? The people really are embracing, accepting, all inclusive. I love serving this community and these incredible people.”
I’m not sure if and when he gets time to sleep, but his congregation is right there with him, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, providing familial help, and championing equal rights for transgender people.
Their actions speak louder than words. These people are committed to fulfilling their mission which states:
“We are an inclusive community serving as a catalyst for spiritual awakening, evolution, and action.”
UOB, while currently evolving and shifting their consciousness into a wonderful new space, continues to be actively involved in “feeding the people.” However, that is not all they do in terms of community outreach. They also work with Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers & Sisters, Gay Pride Parade and (as mentioned) with Florida’s legislative process.
When we change the laws of our land, we change everything. When we commit, as Unity on the Bay has, to social action, there must be an evolution in consciousness. When we change consciousness through our intention, actions and commitments, the outer must reflect the inner. It is a spiritual law.
Unity on the Bay, and their incredibly committed community, not only are in the midst of transformation but they understand and embodying the meaning and purpose of it. Unity on the Bay is an ongoing, evolving catalyst for transformation and spiritual awakening.
Note: Unity on the Bay in Miami has 3 services each Sunday: 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and a 1:30 p.m. service in Spanish. When you find yourself in Southern Florida be sure to visit them.