The Unity movement was founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore in 1890 as a healing ministry based on the power of prayer and the power of our thoughts to create our own reality. The Fillmores regarded Jesus as the great example rather than the great exception; interpreted the Bible metaphysically; and taught that God is present within all of us.
The five basic ideas that make up the Unity belief system are:
1) God is the source and creator of all. There is no other enduring power. God is good and present everywhere.
2) We are spiritual beings, created in God’s image. The spirit of God lives within each person; therefore, all people are inherently good.
3) We create our life’s experiences through our way of thinking.
4) There is power in affirmative prayer, which we believe increases our awareness of God.
5) Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them. The Unity movement is open and welcoming of all individuals regardless of race, color, gender, age, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, physical disability, or sexual orientation.
Unity teaches that all people are created with sacred worth and that no one exists outside the heart of God. Its basic principles state that God is Good, and because all people exist within God, they also are inherently good. To reflect its inclusiveness, Unity issued a formal Statement of Diversity in 1995:
“We believe that all people are created with sacred worth. Therefore, we recognize the importance of serving all people within the Unity family in spiritually and emotionally caring ways. We strive for our ministries, publications, and programs to reach out to all who seek Unity support and spiritual growth. It is imperative that our ministries and outreaches be free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, age, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, physical disability, or sexual orientation. Our sincere desire is to ensure that all Unity organizations are nondiscriminatory and support diversity.
In our effort to reach out to all people as did our Way Shower, Jesus Christ, we support the modification of our facilities to make them accessible to all people, regardless of physical challenges; the translation of our materials into Braille and other languages; and respect for the wonderful variety of human commitments and relationships.
We encourage ministers, teachers, and others within Unity to honor the strength of diversity within their spiritual communities. It is with love and in celebration of our unity, in the midst of our wondrous diversity, that we affirm this position.”
Additionally, in 2011, Unity launched an LGBTQ+ Resource Center to provide spiritual resources geared to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community. The resource center includes articles, podcasts, prayer support, and a list of Unity churches and centers around the country. Site resources are provided by teachers, authors, and contributors both inside and outside the Unity movement.
Though Unity takes no official position on social issues, Unity churches are free to support same-sex marriages. Unity Village, the world headquarters of the Unity movement, and many churches and centers perform holy unions and marriages.
The Unity movement accepts and welcomes LGBTQ+ ministers, licensed Unity teachers, and ministerial and licensed Unity teacher candidates. While no specific data is available, a sizeable percentage of Unity ministers and congregants are connected to the LGBTQ+ community.
Listen to this recent podcast during which Unity ministers Jamie Sanders and Mark Fuss interview author Salvatore Sapienza about his new book, Gay Is a Gift.
A World That Works
Host Deborah Olive interviews Mark Anthony Lord, founder and director of the Bodhi Spiritual Center and creator of Liberation—a spiritual conference for LGBTQ+ friends and family spiritual experience.
Unity Village Events
Host Dean Ted Collins interviews Mark Anthony Lord, director of Chicago’s Bodhi Spiritual Center. They discuss Unity’s LGBTQ+ retreat, Liberation 2011, and being a gay spiritual leader. Joining them is Unity VP Paula Coppel to discuss Unity’s new online LGBTQ+ spiritual resources.
Host Rev. Kelly Isola interviews Mark Anthony Lord, founder, and director of the Bodhi Spiritual Center prior to National Coming Out Day. Lord is an internationally acknowledged gay spiritual leader dedicated to creating healing in the world.