Originally created 10/27/01

Unity church celebrates silver anniversary

The sign outside a 1930s-era cottage on Central Avenue says "Unity Metaphysical Bookstore."

Inside, books by psychic Edgar Cayce, thanatologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, positive thinker Robert Schuller and Trappist monk Thomas Merton lie alongside titles by Unity Church founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.

Copies of the newest arrival, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson's best-seller The Prayer of Jabez, are tucked on a corner display in what was oncea dining room.

The house, a former Lutheran church and a Sunday school building next door were donated to Christ Church Unity by the late Charles and Addie Bregga about 25 years ago.

The congregation moved to the 2301 Central Ave. location shortly after Christ Church was chartered in 1976. It will mark its silver anniversary during a service at 11 a.m. Sunday, followed by a potluck.

Some 950 Unity congregations, including Christ Church, which has 80-100 members on its rolls, are dedicated to education and the search for truth. "It is a do-it-yourself situation - you have to get in there and dig it out for yourself," said the Rev. Gene Conner, pastor.

He said members study and form their own opinions of what is right. "There is no creed, no doctrine, no dogma because we are taught to listen to (the Holy) Spirit."

The Unity movement was born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1886 after Myrtle Fillmore learned to pray in a way that had practical results. After attending a New Thought lecture by Dr. E.B. Weeks, she went home saying, "I am a child of God, and therefore, I do not inherit sickness."

Two years later, the chronic tuberculosis she had known since childhood was healed. She taught her husband how to pray in the new way, and his leg, crippled early in life, was also healed.

The Fillmores promoted their religious philosophy in a magazine, Modern Thought, which evolved into Unity Magazine in 1994.

The founders established other publishing ventures, a correspondence school and a radio station. They also promoted vegetarianism. In 1966, Unity began operating the School for Ministerial Religious Studies, where the Rev. Conner and other Unity clergy were trained.

Unity is biblically based, and Jesus Christ is the savior everybody claims, the Rev. Conner said. But "we don't try to scare anybody into trying to find Jesus."

For more information log on to: www.unityworldhq.org.

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or vanorton@augustachronicle.com.


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