International Youth of Unity Celebrates Diamond Anniversary!

Published on: March 1, 2011

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“YOU changed my life. I learned how to be a leader, speak in public and pray out loud. It gave me confidence, new skills and friends that I would have the rest of my life.” —Richard Rogers, Unity minister

Ask anyone who has been connected to Youth of Unity (YOU) over the years and you will hear similar sentiments. YOU has impacted the Unity movement by creating a supportive place for young people to step into leadership as they learn and discover who they are. We asked Unity leaders to share about their experiences in YOU.

Julie Montague, senior minister of Unity of the Valley in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada, received the gift of inspiration from the transformative message of YOU:

“At one YOU retreat, I heard a Unity minister explain how Jesus the Christ was the discoverer of the Christ Spirit that was in each of us. I was so inspired I decided then and there that someday I would be a Unity minister.”


Alden Studebaker, Unity Minister

Alden Studebaker, Unity Minister

My YOU experience continues to motivate me, especially in terms of bringing a sense of joy and fun to my work. I still have friends whom I met in YOU and some of them are ministers. —Alden Studebaker, Unity minister


In the words of  David McClure, Unity minister,

[My sponsor, Unity minister Merton Thorpe] saw the possibilities in me and I will never forget his support and encouragement.”



This year marks the 75th anniversary of the beginning of International Youth of Unity. Lowell Fillmore, son of Charles and Myrtle, suggested the idea of a national Unity youth organization and in 1936, Chi Lambda Epsilon was organized, working to “establish spiritual co-operation among the youth of the world.” The name changed to Young People’s Christian Unity (YPCU) in 1936 and the following year, at the Second Annual YPCU Conference, the name changed again to Youth of Unity (YOU). Originally formed as a young adult group, YOU changed into a teen organization for young people in high school.

Cherie Larkin

Cherie Larkin

I caught my first glimpse of the Tower and even today I can still recall the deep spiritual connection that rose up in me. —Cherie Larkin, senior minister of First Church Unity, Nashville


During the 75 years that have passed since then, the names, faces and styles of clothing have certainly all changed but the wonderful, loving spirit of YOU has remained the same. Young people from all walks of life have been blessed by the transformative experience of YOU.

Unity minister Judith Crooks shared,

As a mother of four YOUers, what they received as youth from our message set a fine foundation for all of their rich lives.”


Sandie Vanik, Unity minister, found YOU to be an important part of her life, helping her

“to create and establish a deep foundation of positive spiritual principles, God-centered self-reliance, and faith-based self-confidence.”

YOU Banquet 1937

YOU Banquet 1937

Not only has being a part of YOU affected former YOUers, it has also made its mark on the adults who stepped up to help create that experience.

“I attribute my thirty-eight years of success as a Unity minister to the things I learned, habits I formed, and the style of caring ministry I developed, to my beginning as a YOU sponsor.” —G. Arthur Hammons, Unity minister

YOU Dance in 1937 at Unity Village

YOU Dance in 1937 at Unity Village

Reunion at Unity Village

In honor of the diamond anniversary of YOU, this year we are excited to announce the first-ever International Youth of Unity Reunion. This weekend retreat being held at Unity Village, August 5-7, 2011, is open to all former YOUers as well as former and current YOU sponsors. Musicians LeRoy White and Karl Anthony will be sharing their music and wisdom. Participants will have the opportunity to share memories with many generations of YOUers.

Consider joining us for this exciting retreat! Here are some memories of past events from Unity leaders with their roots in YOU.

“I remember the year Jill Jackson had just written the Peace Song (’51 or ’52) and taught it to us. We all sang it with gusto—and have kept on doing so for over 50 years.”  —Stan Hampson, Unity minister

“Probably the most memorable time [at Unity Village] was an evening in the outdoor theater [in 1962]. There had been riots in Japan and the crowds had been shouting, “Hate, hate, hate.” That night, we chanted, “Love, love, love.”  —Jo Ann Ballard, licensed Unity teacher

Come relive the magic of the past while creating more exciting memories!

Share your story and hear new ones!

I loved being in YOU with other positive, spiritual seekers, who believed that God was a good God and was not just waiting to punish a person for wrongdoing. —John Strickland, senior minister of Atlanta Unity Center, Atlanta, Georgia


Traveling to regional rallies and meeting people from all walks of life had a wonderful way of opening me up to greater possibilities.  —Eric Ovid Donaldson, ordained minister and spiritual leader of Unity Christian Church, Memphis, Tennessee

Jane Simmons
Senior Co-minister at Unity Spiritual Center
Rev Dr Jane Simmons is a senior co-minister at Unity Spiritual Center in Spokane, Wash., along with her husband Gary. Jane served for seven years as the International Teen Ministry Coordinator for Unity Worldwide Ministries.
Rachel Simpson
Senior Co-minister at Website
Rev. Rachel has served in various staff and volunteer capacities at Unity Worldwide Ministries and many local Unity ministries. She holds a Masters in Divinity from Unity Institute and Seminary, and a bachelor of arts in technical theatre with a minor in music from Central Washington University.

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