“I Cannot *Not* Serve”

Published on: April 6, 2016

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As the Expansion Coordinator, I oversee and coordinate US ministry expansion activities, programs and services of Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM). As a UWM staff member, my position calls for implementing a professional program of ministry expansion and being a resource for thriving new Unity ministries. Currently we have 132 expansion and 73 alternative ministries, and are growing! In 2015 we welcomed 11 new expansion and 3 alternative ministries.

There are 3 main aspects of my expansion position:

  • Providing guidance and resources to ministers, licensed Unity teachers and leaders who are establishing new ministries.
  • Offering support and mentoring to expansion ministries in ministry growth and development.
  • Providing guidance to expansion ministries for moving to full-member status.

One of the common questions folks ask is “How did you get into this area?” Long story. My career journey at times felt rather disjointed rather than clear and smooth, but then isn’t that what life appears to be when we’re not open to and accepting of our guidance, gifts and divine urging?

Before discovering Unity in Honolulu in 1982, my careers included being an organizational development consultant, college dean of students and faculty member, and claims adjuster. After completing master’s and doctoral degrees, plus several yearlong training programs in counseling and human resource development, I swore I’d never go to school again. It was too much work. I’ve been there, done that. But then, of course, my “coming home” experience with Unity offered another powerful journey that pushed my comfort zones in wondrous ways I never imagined and could not ignore.

While living in Hawaii, my Unity journey revealed a thirst for inner exploration. This exploration began to heal my low self-esteem at a depth that was at times painful as well as joyful—even transformative. Who knew what wonders, strength, potential and love have always been within me—and everyone?!

Changing Paths

One Sunday at Unity Church of Hawaii, a new path for me was quietly launched when Rev David McClure made an announcement that the board of trustees was searching for a consultant to assist in developing a congregational survey. Wow—right down my alley. I offered to help, and began what later morphed into a part-time staff ministerial assistant position and church growth consultant. I began taking SEE (Spiritual Education & Enrichment) classes and applied to ministerial school at Unity Village.

While living in Hawaii my personal ministry included serving the Diamond Head ministry, being a church growth consultant, and volunteering and working with the Vietnam Vet Center and later with vet centers on the mainland. In retrospect, I can now see how my journey was perfect in preparing me for another degree and a profound new career—being a Unity minister.

Following ordination, I served as a senior minister for 21 years in 4 Unity ministries, 3 years as a transitional ministry specialist, plus served on region and sub-region boards, and UWM ministry teams. I was senior minister for 8 years at Unity on Greenville, Dallas, Texas.

In 2013 I became clear that my service as a field minister was complete. UWM’s ministry expansion coordinator position had just opened. It felt like a good fit and an answer to a vision to someday be a part of the central office staff which I so respected and loved over the years. Remembering that “my past is not my potential,” I applied and was hired.

I cannot not serve others”

My vision and intent is to honor and respond to what has been a powerful inner divine urge for ongoing soul growth through sacred service. I cannot not serve others. Two affirmations support me living my vision when I’m off my card*: “Get your mind off of yourself and onto others,” and “Giving and receiving are one in Truth.”

Creating an Expansion or Alternative Ministry

The process for creating an expansion ministry and alternative ministry usually begins with checking out our website information: New MinistryAlternative Ministry.  This is followed by a call with me for coaching, answering questions, and getting tips for submitting a slam-dunk proposal for a new ministry. We end with a prayer of affirmation.

The minister, licensed Unity teacher or spiritual leader/coordinator—and often a launch team—will then create their proposal and send it to me. The proposal will take several hours to create, and once it has been reviewed by the chair of the Expansion Team (currently Rev Pat Ball) and myself, it is submitted to the UWM board of trustees with a recommendation for approval. The entire process usually takes 5 to 8 weeks.

I Wish You Knew That …

I yearn to be of more support and a resource for our expansion leaders. Even with the support of a small yet dedicated central office staff and expansion team volunteers, it often seems like there are more needs for support than I have the capacity to offer—and I deeply regret this. I would like others to know that it is my intention is to be here for you at any time, even though you and your ministry have passed through the application stage into being a Unity ministry. We’re here for the ride—all the way to full-status membership! Some leaders hesitate to consistently reach out to me, a mentor, or colleague when they have a major or run-of-the-mill challenge or question.

Over the years my personal credo and vision for ministry continues to be:

  • To co-create a loving, prosperous, empowered, diverse and transformative spiritual community;
  • To live from my belief that God is my Source, and God’s Love is my driving force;
  • To honor my own spiritual quest and unfoldment.

*“Off my card” refers to a process within the Art and Practice of Living with Nothing and No One Against You.

Steve Colladay
Rev Steve Colladay is the Ministry Expansion Coordinator for Unity Worldwide Ministries.

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  • Allison Smith

    Thank you Steve, as always, for the inspiration and support.As I read your story, I often said out loud “I know just what he means….”! It was a great reminder to let go of my own stuff around starting a ministry and stay focused on the vision, others, guidance. Unity of St. John Virgin Islands never would have happened without you and your kindness. With gratitude, Allison