Ah, the vision of ministry! Those that have stepped up and stepped out into the seminary experience know very well that first call to serve came with a “Yes!” and perhaps a few “What have I done?” moments.
One thing for certain is the amazing unified gift Holy Spirit laid upon their hearts. What we each may discover along the way is a shift. What did ministry look like and what was that vision? Has it changed?
As we take a peek into the thoughts and hearts of our leaders over time, I want to point out the many that go unnamed in our movement, yet their heart and service remain a tireless commitment to assisting in the unfolding of the Christ within so many people over the years. They are each servant leaders and have created numerous disciples. I am one of them.
I’ve been fortunate to work with ministers early in my career that have been “at work” in ministry and never sought recognition, but the number of lives that are transformed under their care are staggering. Again, I am one of them forever changed by their commitment to teaching Truth.
As we speak to a few of our leaders in the Unity movement during our fiftieth anniversary of Unity Worldwide Ministries, this is a small sampling of those that have gone on to their next great journey.
Our Truth principles, our core texts, the Bible and the vision of our co-founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore remain unchanged, although technology, and the way many of us “do” church has shifted. Truth is Truth and that is ageless. It is our internal vision and growth that shifts along the way.
I often think, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The common vision we each created in consciousness is the One with the One. Whether it comes from a recent graduate like myself in 2015 or from 1915. Our principles and teachings are what changed our lives. Our common link to Unity through our purpose-filled ministries, our Way Shower Jesus, our co- founders Charles and Myrtle caught onto a great vision and we all hold that together in common. That’s our power and our strength.
Timeless Voices from Our Past
We often speak about how we stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before.
Here are a few of those voices, great leaders that have influenced and changed so many lives and have blessed the countless numbers of Truth seekers and students worldwide. Let their words speak to you today.
May Rowland (1890-1977) succeeded Myrtle Fillmore as director of Silent Unity in 1916 and kept that position for fifty-five years until her retirement in 1971. She took the position only a year after finishing high school and was brought in to help Charles and Myrtle. She went on to be the longest-serving director of Silent Unity to date.
In her book, Dare to Believe, May states,
The world can be united through loving, understanding and warm hearts. People at home and abroad respond to love. Frequently we speak of giving someone our blessing. A blessing is the essence of the highest spiritual realization that we can give to another. We can give a blessing silently or we can speak it aloud.
In the fall of 1959 she was asked to speak to Unity groups in England. They were not large numbers, but they each had great faith in the power of Truth to bless. She states that she felt she could “take a special blessing of love to England, because the day she was to leave by jet plane the Daily Word message seemed—as so many of our friends say–just written for this occasion. This was the prayer for the day: “I love you, I bless you, and I have faith in you.”
[pg. 28 ]
Elizabeth Sand Turner
In the fall of 1932 Elizabeth (1897-1979) enrolled in the Unity Correspondence School. She became the spiritual leader of the Nashville center in 1933. In 1934 she became a licensed Unity teacher and was then ordained as a minister in July 1936.
She served in Nashville until 1945 and became an in the field lecturer for Unity School of Christianity and ultimately the educational director of the training school. In 1958 she moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and served as minister at the Unity church until 1966.
In her book Let There Be Light, she works diligently through the pages that reveal her depth of study and also an interpretation that illuminates the pages of the Bible.
Our earth, that is, our consciousness is indeed “waste and void” until we know that the Spirit of God within the depths of our being is moving in purposeful activity. Our great need is for light, which represents illumination, intelligence, wisdom. We can have no real comprehension of the Scriptures until we are aware that the Holy Spirit within us is decreeing light. Whenever we open the Bible we should affirm “let there be Light.”
Again, the words that bless our lives are not echoes of the past, but speak as current Truth today. They bless and multiply in the lives throughout that era and continue to bless our hearts and minds today.
Frances (ca. 1889-1936) was ordained a Unity minister in 1923 and later that year studied with New Thought teacher Emma Curtis Hopkins. She devoted herself full-time to writing and continued to be a guest teacher at Unity School of Christianity and other centers across the country.
Her words graced the pages of Unity periodicals, just as we are doing today. For many years she blessed countless numbers as she shared Truth teachings.
In her book Effectual Prayer, she writes,
If the time of achievement seems long, pray. If the way seems dark, pray. If the results seem delayed, pray. Morning, noon and night, pray; pray without ceasing; pray in the night watches; pray and faint not; pray for those who despitefully use you; pray with the spirit and with the understanding also; pray rejoicing; be instant in prayer. Let praise and thanksgiving ever rise like sweet incense from the altar of prayer in your heart. Let the joy of inner communion open the way for you to the glory of God, no matter what the outer appearances may be. When this is done, there is no force in the heavens or the earth that can keep your good from you; for you have become one with it and it one with you, inseparable, and imperishable, eternal.
What another great encouragement for those readers throughout the years! We all have had a sense of deep need in moments of fear, worry and doubt, and in those times we must embrace the wait for Spirit to reveal our next series of steps. We pray! This speaks volumes to the seminarian and I’m quite sure to any of us that have gone on a quest of any kind.
Dorothy (1916-2013) was hired to work in Silent Unity by Charles Fillmore in 1938. In the 1940s she began working in ministry and for 60 years served in numerous cities around the United States along with her husband Rev Phillip Pierson. Dorothy’s poetry has been read by millions of people. She also served as the chair of the board of trustees of the Association of Unity Churches. Rev Dorothy made her transition in 2013 while I was in seminary. She and her husband Phil were yet even more change agents in our world.
Rev Phil remains one of my mentors and friends whom I joyfully call on for support, yet I always know he’s there with or without a modern day email request. As with our thoughts and prayers—we have the greatest Internet through Spirit.
In Dorothy’s book Keeping Close in Prayer, she writes in her loving and humorous way about life in love with ministry and a life in love with God.
In the more recent events that have been occurring in our world, I needed to reach out and speak to my own congregation following a world tragedy. I spent time in prayer and then I reached for a book on my bookshelf. Dorothy, through her thoughtful pages, smiled back.
I picked up Dorothy’s words and shared them with the congregation.
Sometimes we remember words spoken to us when they don’t necessarily seem to be important to our life, spoken without emphasis and almost without relation to the occasion. And yet they come back to mind as a piece of the puzzle found! The words fit the moment. Today I remember these words; “everything you will ever need for your eternal ongoing is within you now.…” In the light of this word I realize that it matters little where I may be on this planet, for I carry with me the solution to every problem and the answer to every question. It means that we come equipped to have all our needs fulfilled.
The words that came rushing to me to “fit” that incredible moment were Peace, Be Still and what a wonderful answer within me that soothed and fit the occasion following the tragedies in Paris in November 2015.
We all shared a great moment of peace as our prayer for one another and our world.
When we take a look at the vision of ministers and ministries throughout our history, we see love and peace most often. We also see a loving, yet directness of assurance through the words that leap off the pages or from the Sunday platform. Once we gather our “faith legs” beneath us, we can stand in that same assurance that Good is always unfolding and the many faces of Truth teachers become revealed.
We also see communities gathered close in prayer and the rich blessings the Divine has provided for each of us to share. Perhaps in another half-century those that have taken the great leap into their call to serve will have their words shared with others. We are all great givers aligned with the One great giver of all life. For this and for sharing my ministry in this greater family called Unity ministry, I am grateful.