Editor’s Note: This Question & Answer with Rev Xiomara Malagon highlights her path and responsibilities in serving the ministries outside of the US for Unity Worldwide Ministries.
UWM: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Rev Xiomara Malagon: Some of you may already know this, but I am originally from the Dominican Republic (DR). As a matter of fact, I spent most of my childhood and teenage years there. I did a lot of traveling with my family during that time and then throughout my adulthood, which allowed me to meet a variety of people who originated from other countries. You could say that I’ve almost always been exposed to some form of diversity at any point in my life. For the longest time, I’ve been fascinated by internationals and I love learning about different cultures.
In the late 1980s-90s, I served as a translator in DR for anyone coming from the US who presented classes, workshops, services, etc., including Glenn Mosley, Jim Rosemergy, Toni Boehm, Ron Tyson and Terry Lund, to name a few.
Looking back on my upbringing and all the opportunities I had to meet folks with such diverse backgrounds, I can say that it’s amazing how Spirit equips us to support our journey through life. Most of the challenges I’ve faced so far have helped develop the skills necessary to do a lot of the job functions I currently perform.
Q: What inspired you to start working with ministries outside the US?
A: I went through the ministerial education program at Unity School for Religious Studies as an international student. After graduation and licensing and ordination as a Unity minister, I went back to my country to serve there. Two years later I received a call from the Association of Unity Churches (AUC), now doing business as Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM). I was given the chance to work as coordinator of the Global Expansion Ministries office, which is now the Worldwide Support office. I, of course, agreed to join AUC because it would open doors for me to work with internationals. Up to that point, I had already had internationals as peers and classmates, but I was curious about other means by which I could support those communities.
Q: In the time that you’ve been with UWM how has your career developed?
A: I’ve been working for UWM since December 2001. As I mentioned earlier, I started as coordinator of the Global Expansion Ministries Office. I was promoted to Director but later took on a role as consultant when I moved to Atlanta, Ga. Last year I was promoted to a part-time position as Worldwide Support Specialist.
Through these career changes, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet with people from a wide range of cultures. It’s been incredible to learn about how they operate and how they have adapted Unity teachings to their way of life. I consider myself blessed in that I get to assist these folks in developing their own careers within Unity and also to support them as they promote our Unity teachings.
Q: How has the Worldwide Support Office evolved?
A: The Worldwide Support Office has come a long way. It’s worth mentioning that Unity started serving ministries outside the United States in 1966. Back then this entire effort started off as part of the International Office at Unity Village, Mo. Rev Foster McClellan, Rev Ron Tyson, Rev Norma Rosado, Lois Cheatham and others played significant roles in supporting our vision and bringing great success before the International Office was transferred to UWM.
Most notably, I’ve had the pleasure to work under the supervision of Revs Joan Landreth, Carmen-Venus Baerga and Deborah Frownfelter. Some of our most amazing accomplishments which have contributed to the Worldwide Support Office’s development since 2002 include: creating Association of Unity Leaders and Ministries (AULM), expanding new ministries, restructuring some Unity National Schools (UNS), and creating new UNSs.
I would like to stress how important AULMs and UNSs are. The creation of these institutions have been such a great blessing to us and our internationals. Furthermore, these institutions are all affiliated with UWM.
AULMs were created to represent Unity leadership within a country. These associations encourage collaboration among Unity leaders so that they can more easily work together to accomplish their goals and support their peers. They promote the Unity movement by approving the creation of new ministries within their country and enforcing predetermined regulations. AULMs are formed by credentialed and non-credentialed Unity leaders recognized by UWM as coordinators of Unity ministries; these associations are individually governed by a board of trustees formed by local leaders.
In contrast, UNSs were created to provide Unity students residing overseas the same educational opportunities a student residing in the US receives without having them travel to the USA. UWM helps organize and create UNSs abroad by providing Unity leaders with programs they can facilitate to prospective students who wish to become credentialed Unity leaders. A UNS is always affiliated with UWM and AULMs in the country it is established. Each school is governed by an Education Council formed by credentialed Unity leaders. All Unity ministries in countries where a UNS is established are extensions of that school. UNSs can also support students in countries with no UNS. Moreover, thanks to UNSs we have had over 50 ordained Unity ministers worldwide who have trained through the International Ministerial Program (IMP) for the past 12 years.
It is important to mention that all credentialing to become certified as licensed Unity teacher (LUT), licensed Unity minister or ordained Unity minister is only granted by the UWM Board of Trustees.
Q: What do you currently do as the Worldwide Support Specialist?
A: I support AULMs and UNSs established outside of the US by providing them with documentation about policies and procedures, bylaws and training. I work side-by-side with leaders so that they can successfully adapt these documents to their cultures and local (national) laws. I also help keep these documents up-to-date as needed. Additionally, I serve as a point of contact for AULMs and UNSs to submit reports about their ongoing programs, annual goals and accomplishments; I am in constant communication with these institutions to provide assistance and promote their success. I also assist individuals contacting UWM, who are interested in starting Unity ministries outside USA.
Q: Given your experience with internationals, is there a difference in the way Unity Sunday services are held?
A: Yes, there is definitely a difference in the way Unity Sunday services are held. That’s not to say that some countries don’t follow a similar structure to what is done in the US. However, most countries will hold services in accordance to their cultures and customs. For example:
- In Guyana, a Sunday service may last over two hours and will include music and dancing with the purpose of fully engaging the congregation.
- Ministers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland generally teach a Unity class on Saturdays or Sundays.
- In Argentina, prayer services are held on Saturdays and are typically followed by a class.
- Some ministries in Dominican Republic will have YOU members perform dances and songs prior to the worship service.
- One of the ministries in Australia gives children the opportunity to lead part of a Sunday service once a month.
- In Nigeria, their worship service is 2-3 hours and there is a lot of congregational participation. Affirmations are repeated throughout.
These, of course, are just a few examples of how ministries abroad hold their prayer and worship services.
Q: Any last thoughts?
A: I would like to thank AULM Board of Trustees, UNS Education Councils, members of our International Credential Ministry Teams, the International Connections team, and colleagues and friends in and outside the USA. We appreciate your hard work in supporting our vision. We wouldn’t have come this far without you!
I’d also like to thank UWM for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful team.