Spiritually Inspired Social Action Means Hope

Published on: September 1, 2013

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Our world is awakening. Though we don’t hear it in the news, millions of people participate in projects to make the world a better place. It’s called by many names: outreach, sacred activism, mission work, community organizing, etc. Unity’s approach is Spiritually Inspired Social Action (SISA). As the name implies, Spirit inspires our actions. SISA has three elements:

1. Spiritual inspiration. When our hearts respond to an outer event, we turn within and ask, “Is this mine (or ours) to do?” If so, “What is the highest level of service I can provide?” We do not “fix” another, for no one is broken. We serve as gifted equals so that the boundaries of giver and receiver are blurred.
2. We see with “double vision,” both spiritual and human. This facilitates relationships that honor our cultural diversity even as we know our spiritual oneness.
3. We put hands and feet on our guidance and take our actions to the streets. We get involved.

In short, Spiritually Inspired Social Action is Unity’s Fifth Principle: practical application of the spiritual principles we know and love expressed in the broader world.

What are the Spiritually Inspired Social Action projects in Unity today?

We often say, “Unity is one of the best-kept secrets in the world.” In like manner, Spiritually Inspired Social Action is one of the best-kept secrets in Unity. Literally hundreds of SISA projects are under way in our movement each year. These projects fall into four broad categories:

1. Humanitarian and Compassionate Action: Examples include Share-A-Bear projects, tutoring in local schools, migrant worker dinners, back-to-school backpacks and digging wells in Africa. Unity was present in Haiti after the earthquake, in Joplin after the tornadoes, and with the refugees of Hurricane Katrina.
2. EarthCare: We behold the earth as sacred and understand we are its stewards. Unity has a marvelous EarthCare Team that informs, encourages and supports a growing number of EarthCare-certified churches.
3. Interfaith Dialogue and Celebration: Countless wars trace their roots to differences in our understanding of God. Unity churches open our hearts and develop friendships with people of different faith traditions. We break bread together, sponsor Abraham Walks, share stories and prayers. We participate in healing deep, and sometimes ancient, wounds.
4. Peace Initiatives: Unity churches and centers around the planet contribute to the Season for Peace and Nonviolence.

Why does Unity need to be involved in Spiritually Inspired Social Action?

It’s in our spiritual DNA to “put hands and feet” on the principles we teach. From the beginning, Charles Fillmore declared that Unity is practical. SISA is practical. It challenges us to see God everywhere present, and to demonstrate a practical understanding of the spiritual principles we teach. Spiritually Inspired Social Action:

• Supports growth in consciousness and challenges us to apply our spiritual principles in practical ways. SISA develops spiritual leaders and fosters sacred service. One man delivered art supplies to children in South Africa. Upon seeing the children’s smiles, he said through tears, “Everything is different now.”
 Bridges the generations by blending the wisdom of the elders with the energy of youth.
Attracts people to our churches. SISA projects inspire enthusiasm, which our congregants delight to share. Christ Church Unity in Orlando, Fla., advocates for clean water in their community and joyfully participates in festivals and parades. People wonder, “Who are these folks?” and find their way to the church.
Demonstrates our prosperity teachings. Sky St John, senior minister of Unity of Hawaii, implemented SISA in his church and asked, “How many more ways can we give?” For the first time in 18 years, their church finished the year in the black. Sky says, “If we’re not involved in something bigger than ourselves, we’re denying people the greatest joy of all.” One church, with Sunday attendance of 200, put out a jar and asked people to give $1 a week for SISA. They’ve never run out of money for their SISA projects.
Builds community “Beyond the Walls” of our churches/centers. Involved in building a coalition to paint the homes of the elderly, one of our ministers broke the “fundamentalist barrier.”

May these ideas stir our souls in a way that deepens our involvement in this important work.


Deborah Olive
Rev Deborah Olive is a spiritual leader, speaker, trainer, certified coach and former radio host. She previously served as chair of the Spiritually Inspired Social Action Ministry Team and is a member of the advisory board of the Association for Global New Thought.

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