Unity’s Evolving Response to Racial Inequality, Parts 1 & 2

Published on: September 10, 2015

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Part 1: Everybody into the Pool

By Rev Jim Marshall

“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Let us remember these words as a statement about the Unity movement. It’s time for the Unity movement to move into action as the manifestation of the divine that each and every one of us is. It is time for the Unity movement to live the truth it has taught for over 100 years of our oneness in Spirit embracing community involvement and racial equality. It is time to manifest what we have prayed for, envisioned, and put into prayer for America; we are perfect children of God, all, within the rainbow of God’s colors.

On Wednesday, June 10, 2015, a seminal discussion was held during the 2015 Unity People’s Convention in Albuquerque, N.Mex. Recognizing that it is Unity’s time and opportunity and move into action, Rev Gregory Guice, senior minister at Detroit Unity Temple, Mich., asked Unity Worldwide Ministries’ President, Rev Donna Johnson, if space was available to hold an “add-on” meeting at the conference and, of course, space was found for that meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to have a discussion about and generate ideas around how Unity can put “feet on the ground”—that is, become an active, involved, vital, on-the-scene force for good in all our communities across the country. The message and the challenge was to move from urban unrest to world peace. It was an opportunity to create conversation about the energy that is emerging about the issues in our country.

Word got out at the Unity convention! The meeting started with approximately 20 people and within a half-hour the meeting had grown to over 60 people. As moderator, Rev Guice gave each person, going around the room chair-by-chair, an opportunity to voice their frustration, their anger, their sorrow, at the state of racism in this country—remember Ferguson, Mo.; Baltimore, Maryland; and most recently Charleston, SC.—many years after the freedom marches and the ministry of Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. After everyone had voiced their concern, Rev Guice invited each person to share one or two ideas that evidenced love in action by Unity, as a movement, as a force for change in the United States and beyond.

Love in Action

Unity’s positive initiatives were voiced at the meeting such as the public apology by Rev Glenn Mosley, then-president of Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM), and Tom Zender, then-president of Unity World Headquarters at Unity Village, for the injustice to black people in the Unity movement in the past. Another positive initiative was the establishment of the Martin Luther King, Jr Celebration begun in 2004 at Unity World Headquarters (UWH). It was pointed out how our movement has moved beyond its own issues and challenges by creating moments where change was sought.

Unity’s origins as a spiritual movement started in Missouri, a border state during the American Civil War, which sent men, armies, generals and supplies to both opposing sides, had its star on both flags, had separate governments representing each side, and endured a neighbor-against-neighbor intrastate war within the larger national war.

Racial prejudice manifested in stark and clearly visible ways at Unity Village, Missouri. Black students, studying at Unity Village, were not allowed to stay on campus. Black people were not allowed to use the pool on the Unity grounds. Clearly, it is time for everyone, of whatever ethnic origin, to “get into the pool” and to manifest our movement’s name by walking our talk in community wherever we live.

Unity’s opportunity to be “boots on the ground”—to be a force for good across the country (indeed, the world!)—was poignantly shared by one of the keynote speakers at the 2015 Unity convention. Wayne Muller, minister, author, therapist, and longtime friend of Unity, shared that he longed to see Unity “move into the world as a force for good without losing what Unity stands for.” He shared that Unity’s gift is in our knowing how to love and how to heal. He said, “The world is aching for someone to tell them what the heart knows.” He ended by saying, “Thank you, Unity. There is a luminous presence to your being.”

Yes! There is a “luminous presence” to Unity. That presence is our knowing of our divinity, our oneness in Spirit, our oneness as human beings and our need to be the force for change we want to see in the world. Unity will be that positive force for change as we move into the future, adding servant leadership to our powerful prayer consciousness, and get involved in our spiritual and secular communities. Everybody get into the pool!

For further information, contact Rev Jim Marshall and Rev Gregory Guice.


Part 2: Steps to Being Peace in Our Communities

By Rev Sandy Boyer

Following the tumultuous and heartbreaking news of continued violence in our cities, the Unity Urban Ministerial School presented a program at the Unity People’s Convention in Albuquerque, N. Mex., facilitated by Rev Gregory Guice, to address the unrest in urban areas. What came out of that evening was an authentic discussion on race and a strong desire of everyone in the room to do something about it. Hearing the accounts of racism, even within our own beloved Unity movement, feeling the unhealed pain of those who are suffering through PTSD (or post-traumatic slavery disorder), the leaders and laypeople in the room united in wanting to make a difference.

Ideas for Moving Forward

Many suggestions were given that evening, beginning with prayer. As Truth students, we believe prayer indeed is the fastest way to change our minds, and change the world. Remembering our Oneness and committing to prayer daily will bring forth heaven on earth, where racism is seen as the illusion it is.

Rev Dr Bessie Duncan encouraged all to pray the following:

Prayer for Racial Healing

We are here because we care.
We are here because You care.
We are here because I care.
Let me be the peace.
Act the peace.
And let us move our hearts
To the highest and best of us, and
Focus on racial healing
For self, others and the world.
In Unity, through the name of Christ. Amen.

Other suggestions included a Unity Online Radio show entitled Race Matters, a Facebook page to continue the conversation—not as a forum of complaint, but rather one of healing and sharing what is working. More suggestions included involving our communities through book study, film discussions, Interfaith activities, getting the seniors involved, and seeing if Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM) can make a video for ministries to jumpstart the conversation.

Kathleen McKevitt LUT who is pioneering in southern Idaho and was a former statewide rural and national community organizer for the last 7 years states, “Organizing is always the best way to connect with the public, and … the rule is to go in with a simple message that most people can relate to, then hold face-to-face discussions with people who care, and let it all bring forth the ideas that want to lead you.”

Unity has the message. And we know its truth and simplicity. We are One.

Perhaps, as Rev Sandra Campbell suggests, it’s time for us to speak up and do something in addition to affirmative prayer and meditation. Campbell continues:

It’s not just about Charleston. It’s about every community—wherever we are. And Unity is no exception. How do we show up and how do we see each other? Are we inclusive, or do we stick within our own comfort zones? It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. Perhaps that contempt is against the unfamiliar.

The same unrest we see on the news is played out daily in our own neighborhoods—in our own consciousness. It may not be as devastating, but it can be just as isolating and demeaning. We need to clean our own houses before we try to sweep around someone else’s porch. We’re mirrors of each other’s souls. “Faith without work is useless for the Kingdom of God.” If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

As we take time to enter the Silence, affirming Divine guidance is leading us as individuals and as a movement, let us look within. Let it begin with taking an inventory of our own attitudes and beliefs, instead of sweeping them under the rug, let the healing light of love loose and let them go.

And then let’s continue the healing by joining in the discussion at the Unity Urban Ministerial School’s program at the 2016 Unity People’s Convention.

Now is the time and we are the one(s).

Authors: Jim Marshall, Gregory Guice, Sandy Boyer

Jim Marshall
Jim G Marshall, BS, MS, Class of ‘05, is minister of alternative ministry Unity Open Space Envisioning; adjunct faculty on-campus SEE; associate minister, Unity Southeast, Kansas City, Mo.; prayer worker at Silent Unity
Sandy Boyer
Rev Sandy serves at Unity of Hagerstown, Md., a spiritual community she pioneered in 2007. A 2015 Unity Urban Ministerial School graduate, she enjoys volunteering at the local hospital as prayer chaplain, kayaking and walking her Corgi.

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  • Pat Bell

    Gregory, you are truly doing the work you are meant to do. Hard to believe it has been almost 4 years since we talked about the opening here at Hilton Head. I was so touched then by the power of your spirit and am still hoping that you will make it down to Hilton Head sometime and share with us your spirit. Am so glad to see that Unity as a whole is taking on this challenge, to get out front and lead the way to true peace and recognition that we are truly all One. We here were so impacted by the events in Charleston, most especially the response by the families and congregants of Mother Emanuel and the vast majority of the people here in South Carolina. Now to cement the changes that have been made–with love, not hate. Thank you for what you are doing. In love and appreciation, Pat

  • Barry Vennard


    I am thinking that human nature is the problem (and the solution). Historical, violent expressions of the instinct for tribalism can be found throughout human history. History reveals that people of virtually every race have been both victims and perpetrators of tribal type oppression and violence. The human instinct for tribalism is almost always motivated by the racial, religious, cultural, geographical, and economical self interests of separate groups of people. The list of motivations goes on and on. What’s happening in our
    culture is just one more example of why the current state of individual and collective human nature, which includes tribalism, needs to be transcended. I believe that the needed transcendence can emerge partly through the efforts of people who are actively seeking to address and change the current suffering caused by the human tribal instinct. But, I don’t think that’s enough. Something more is needed.

    We are now at a place where a global human culture is emerging. We are becoming aware that our individual and group self-interest is more and more dependent on the collective well being of the global human population (including those different from ourselves). And, it is dependent on nature’s continued ability to sustain life; an ability that is being threatened by collective human choices.

    The movement that calls humanity to spiritually awaken to its oneness with God, with each other
    and with all creation addresses the problem of racism (and most other problems) at the root cause. I think Unity’s mainfocus should be on leading that movement of shared spiritual awakening that addresses
    not only the symptoms of suffering but the human nature based causes as well. I believe this is a human spiritual threshold that is critical to humanity’s future. Failure of humanity to intentionally cross this threshold will likely bring a future chaos in which a new emergence of tribalism will manifest as an
    unimaginable kind of hell on earth. (a modern version of the dark ages?) Choosing to cross the threshold will bring about what I believe Jesus called the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. I think that is what we all want.