Rev. Sallye Coe Taylor, ordained a Unity minister in 1979, forged a path with heart in the Unity movement, a path that was uniquely hers.
The phrase “from a path with heart” was emblazoned on the front page of the newsletter she lovingly created and published as a product of Soul Food Unity Ministry, an alternative ministry she founded in the mid-1990s.
Taylor, who didn’t use the “Rev.” handle after ordination, relied on the voice of Spirit to lead her. Her work began when she was hired as a part-time Silent Unity prayer associate in September 1977 after teaching high school in Memphis, Tenn., and Chicago.
Inspired by Daily Word, Mentored by Johnnie Colemon
It was in Chicago that Taylor had first been introduced to Unity by one of her students who attended Christ Universal Temple, founded in 1956 by Rev. Johnnie Colemon, a black woman and Unity minister. The student gave Taylor a copy of Daily Word® when she was having some health challenges. Reading its daily messages and becoming a member of Colemon’s church set Taylor on a path she never left.
Colemon became a mentor to Taylor and, like her mentor, Taylor was not one to accept “no” as an answer to any goal she set out to achieve. One longtime friend described her in a recent interview as “a rebel like Jesus Christ. She demonstrated power and courage like [him].”
Courage showed up early in her journey to ministry when she approached James Dillet Freeman, then director of Silent Unity, with the idea of starting an inner-city ministry in Kansas City, Missouri. His response was that it couldn’t be done. Rather than allow this to discourage her, Taylor set out to prove what she knew to be a divine idea. Not long after her vision had been shot down by one of the movement’s legendary leaders, Taylor brought her inner-city ministry into expression and named it simply Unity in the Inner City.
An Inner City Unity Leader
In the early 1980s, Unity in the Inner City resided in several locations in Kansas City, Missouri—first out of the episcopal church on Benton Boulevard, then at 2444 Troost, and finally at Sixth and Main. Taylor proved to Freeman that she was guided by Spirit, not by human opinion. Freeman later said to her that had been his point all along. He saw the divine spark in Taylor and believed she could set it ablaze, and she did.
For her work in the inner city, the Kansas City Globe newspaper recognized Taylor as one of the 50 most influential black women in Kansas City.
During the same period, she taught at Unity School for Religious Studies and became chair of the Department of Biblical Studies in 1983. Taylor’s knowledge and skill in biblical history and Bible interpretation, as well as her dynamic presence as a speaker, made her a sought-after lecturer, teacher, retreat leader, and consultant to Unity ministers until her transition in 2015.
“Her knowledge of the Bible was unparalleled,” said Sharon Jackson, a former board member of Unity in the Inner City. “And her analysis of the Fillmore teachings was amazing.”
Her interest in expanding her reach beyond Kansas City and Unity Village took Taylor to Austin, Texas, in 1988 where she served as senior minister at Unity Church of Austin through 1990. She moved to Colorado and later California until her return to the Kansas City area in 1996.
A Warrior for Personal Transformation
Throughout her life as a Unity minister, Taylor was often described as dynamic, energetic, and no-nonsense with a strong interest in personal transformation. A former coworker of Taylor’s said, “She pulled strength out of me I didn’t know was there. She was a warrior and saw that in me. I am eternally grateful for Taylor. There is no way I could be where I am in consciousness without her.”
Thirty-six years as an ordained Unity minister gave Taylor ample opportunity to live her truth and demonstrate her strength, courage, and commitment without compromise. She spoke out when she saw situations she believed were not in alignment with Unity principles, and she challenged others to do the same.
The Soul Food Unity Ministry
Through Soul Food Unity Ministry, Taylor expressed her divine wisdom freely and without apology. The articles she wrote in the Good News From Soul Food Ministry newsletter were direct, thought-provoking, inspiring, and aligned with the teachings of Unity founders Charles Fillmore and Myrtle Fillmore. Her oral presentations, including Sunday messages, seminars, and retreats, were engaging and instructive.
Rev. Gloria Holt, retired minister of Unity Southeast Church in Kansas City, said, “Sallye often taught Bible classes on Saturdays for ministerial students when there was no Bible instructor on staff at Unity Institute. She was a powerhouse when it came to Bible research for ministers and wanted to develop a library of serious study of scripture.”
Taylor shared her research by self-publishing works that included How to Use Biblical Truth for Personal Transformation and The Missing Link in Healing: Soul, a fascinating body of work that combines metaphysical interpretation of scripture from the New Testament, Charles Fillmore’s work on the Twelve Powers, and Myrtle Fillmore’s spiritual practice.
Taylor was generous with her time in teaching Truth principles, yet she had no tolerance for whining. She did not mince words. One Unity minister recalled a time when, as a student at Unity Institute, she sought Taylor’s advice. Taylor was always open to mentoring students, especially African-American students, but when Taylor sensed this student was not owning her power, she said to her, “Don’t come whining to me. You are strong!”
Taylor then devoted more than two hours with this student at her home, providing sage advice. She challenged students in very direct ways to live from their highest consciousness, yet her challenge always came from a place of genuine love.
A Mystical Interpreter and Storyteller
Rev. Sallye Coe Taylor and her Soul Food Unity Ministry consistently served nourishing wisdom. One of her favorite quotes from Charles Fillmore, which she printed on all editions of her newsletter, according to Holt, was, “The word of God is true soul food.”
Through her eloquent storytelling, biblical references, and metaphysical interpretations, scholarly research, sermons, and recordings, Taylor challenged every student (and we were all her students) to come up higher and to create their own path with heart.