Historic Connection of Prayer and Unity
Prayer is the founding centerpiece of Unity. The healing power of affirmative prayer started in the 1880s when Charles and Myrtle Fillmore each experienced physical healing from their prayers and faith in God.
“Prayer was the crux, core, and sinew of those first healings which started the Unity movement,” writes Dana Gatlin in the 1939 paperback, The Story of Unity’s Fifty Golden Years. “Unity’s prayer ministry is the backbone and breath and pulse of all of Unity’s endeavors.”
That defining connection between prayer and Unity, and how it sustained and fueled the now 127-year-old Silent Unity®, is documented in photographs and writings held in the extensive collection at Unity Archives. The archives, located in the historic Education Building at the Unity Village campus, is responsible for preserving and archiving both physical and digital data, as well as artifacts, from the Unity and New Thought movements.
Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore coined the name Silent Unity. They believed Unity is the oneness of the universe, “in that we are one with each other and one with God.” Silent refers to the need for stillness, “to make it possible to reach beyond the individual self to become aware of that unified oneness.”
It was 1886, when after attending New Thought classes instructed by Dr. E.B. Weeks, that Myrtle Fillmore sensed her recovery from chronic tuberculosis. She attributed it to her use of prayer and other methods she learned from Weeks. Around the same time, Charles began his hip recovery from a childhood accident.
In 1889 Myrtle started gathering friends and acquaintances to pray, and within a year she created the Society of Silent Help. The group was renamed the Society of Silent Unity in 1891 and made its base of operation at Ninth and Tracy Avenue in 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1907 Silent Unity added its telephone prayer ministry which was already receiving a large number of letters and telegraphs on a daily basis. The Society of Silent Unity officially became the Silent Unity Department in 1914.
By September 1929, the telephone prayer ministry had expanded to 24/7 operation, in a prayer room located at then-Unity Farm. The constant prayer vigil was officially acknowledged at Silent Unity in 1939.
International inquiries generated by the Unity prayer ministry grew in the 1930s, prompting full language translations of Unity materials by 1939. The first established international Silent Unity affiliate emerged in England in 1946. In 1997 Silent Unity opened its Spanish Telephone Ministry lines for Spanish-speaking callers.
A milestone was recorded in 1994 when Silent Unity Prayer Associates answered the one millionth call of the year, at 3:16 a.m. on December 8. The following year, the total number of calls reached 1.2 million.
Silent Unity celebrated its 125th anniversary in April 2015. Currently, Prayer Associates receive 3,300 calls each day, totaling about 1.2 million calls per year. Each call is answered with the familiar greeting, “Silent Unity. How may we pray with you?”
For a detailed timeline of Silent Unity history, from beginning to now, please click here.