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History of Unity & Unity Spiritual Community of Grand Rapids
Founder: Charles Fillmore
Co-Founder: Myrtle Fillmore
History of Unity
Unity was founded in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1889 by Charles Fillmore (1854–1948) and Myrtle Fillmore (1845–1931) after Myrtle Fillmore had been cured of her tuberculosis, she believed, by spiritual healing.
This resulted in the Fillmores studying world religions, spiritual healing, and the link between science and religion. They were influenced by Dr. E. B. Weeks, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emma Curtis Hopkins, and Mary Baker Eddy (the founder of Christian Science).
In 1891, the Fillmores named the movement Unity and began publishing their first magazine, Unity. Later magazines included Wee Wisdom (for children) and Daily Word.
Unity of Grand Rapids
Ida Bailey discovered Unity in 1914 and was active as a teacher and preacher for over 36 years. In the beginning, classes were held in homes and various business offices. In 1934, at the age of 73 years, she graduated from Unity School of Christianity and was ordained as the pastor of Unity Church of Christ in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In February of 1949, Rev. Bailey presided at the dedication of a new church home at Scribner Ave NW and Second St. NW. Bailey said at the dedication; “In the 27 years of our existence, we never had a place to worship that would hold a growing congregation. We have held our meetings in bare rooms, surrounded by bare walls, with not even a picture of Jesus to give us a religious atmosphere.
Unity Center of Spiritual Growth
Unity Center for Spiritual Growth, previously known as Unity Church of Peace, was founded in 1992 by Rev. Ann and Rev. Jim Ashby who started at Unity of Grand Rapids. The center started originally in a hotel room and then progressed to renting space in Cascade Country Square. In 1998, the permanent location was purchased on Ada Drive and served the community until the building was sold in 2021.
Unity Spiritual Community of Grand Rapids
In the spring of 2021, a conversation between the Spiritual leader of Unity Center for Spiritual Growth (Michael Rocque) and the board president of Unity of Grand Rapids (Chuck Pearson) took place over lunch. This was the beginning of a conversation of the possibility of merging the two Unity churches. After several discussions and some assistance from Unity in Lee Summit, the decision was made for the two churches to merge. Over the course of almost two years, the two church buildings were sold and a new location was found and renovated in Cascade. Unity Spiritual Community of Grand Rapids had it’s first service on 10/2/2022.
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