Introduction to New Thought and the Unity Movement
Unity was founded in the early 1890s by Myrtle and Charles Fillmore, not to be a separate church or religious denomination, but as a spiritual movement within religions, dedicated to helping people of all faiths apply positive spiritual principles to better their lives.
Just prior to founding Unity, in 1886, Myrtle became very ill. She had been “frail” as a child, was sick throughout most of her life and was told there was nothing she could do about it. After attending a lecture about the power of positive prayer held by Dr. E. B. Weeks, her faith in God became stronger, and she began spending untold hours in prayer and meditation, seeing health and strength for herself, affirming, “I am a child of God, and therefore I do not inherit sickness.” Myrtle subsequently recovered from chronic tuberculosis and attributed her recovery to her use of prayer. She lived on 45 years more, healthy and vital, making her transition at age 86.
After watching his wife become well, Charles began to heal from his childhood accident, a development that he, too, attributed to following this philosophy. Charles had always been a curious sort, reading classical authors such as Shakespeare, Tennyson, Emerson and Lowell as a very young man. He also immersed himself with in-depth study of world religions and philosophies, and in the link between religion and science. Today, quantum physics scientists are discovering this link, finding – and proving – the undisputable connection between the power of the human mind and its effect on the body.
In 1889, Charles left his business to focus entirely on publishing a new periodical, Modern Thought. In 1890 they organized a prayer group that would later be called "Silent Unity" and in the following year, the Fillmore's Unity magazine was first published. On December 7, 1892, Charles and Myrtle penned their Dedication and Covenant.
We, Charles Fillmore and Myrtle Fillmore, husband and wife, hereby dedicate ourselves, our time, our money, all we have and all we expect to have, to the Spirit of Truth, and through it, to the Society of Silent Unity.
It being understood and agreed that the said Spirit of Truth shall render unto us an equivalent for this dedication, in peace of mind, health of body, wisdom, understanding, love, life and an abundant supply of all things necessary to meet every want without our making any of these things the object of our existence.
In the presence of the Conscious Mind of Christ Jesus, this 7th day of December A.D. 1892.
Dr. H. Emilie Cady published a series titled Lessons in Truth in the new magazine. This material later was compiled and published in a book by the same name, which served as a seminal work of the Unity movement. Although Charles had no intention of making Unity into a denomination, his students wanted a more organized group. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore first operated the Unity organization from a campus near downtown Kansas City. As the movement grew, the Fillmores purchased a farm about 15 miles outside of Kansas City which was initially established to grow produce for their vegetarian restaurant in downtown Kasas City.
It is now known as Unity Village, a 1,200-acre incorporated town that is the world headquarters for the enduring Unity movement. Here they publish the Daily Word magazine and other inspirational publications, provide 24/7 prayer support through Silent Unity, the world’s largest international prayer ministry, and offer educational classes, special events and retreats. Unity Village has the largest fountain display in the metro area, an award-winning rose garden, and two buildings that are included on the National Register of Historic Places. The wide-open spaces and distinctive Mediterranean architecture create a tranquil atmosphere. The property is home to a hotel and conference center, a church, a chapel, a bookstore and coffee shop, nature trails, a golf course, and indoor and outdoor wedding and reception venues.
Today there are hundreds of Unity churches and study groups worldwide that make up about 2 million followers. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore dared to dream… and today their dream continues to be a growing reality.