Honoring the Divine Spark

The Way Made Clear

I found Unity by way of a part-time church job as the audiovisual director at Unity of Kansas City North. The job was fun, given the talent of music director Alex Cordero and the Spirit Express band, along with the variety of Kansas City vocalists who graced the stage week after week. The vibe of the church was uplifting and positive—easily living up to the Unity slogan, “a positive path for spiritual living.”

I quickly settled into the job, working three services per week. It wasn’t long before I opened my focus beyond the technical aspects of the position, and when I did I was wildly struck by the fact that the leadership and congregational makeup of this community were very different than what I was accustomed to finding in church. While the racial/ethnic diversity seemed on par with the neighborhood, the LGBTQ community was well-represented—not just in the pews, but also in leadership. In addition, women held some key leadership roles. Imagine that! These observations challenged my own experience of church.

In addition, as the audiovisual director, it was my job to listen. And what I heard in the weekly messages (again, three services per week!) challenged my own experience of Christianity. I was being called to a deeper understanding of sacred scriptures and prayer, as well as to a greater responsibility for living in principle. It became clear that this was the spiritual home I never knew I always wanted!

As a Mexican-American mother of two daughters, I wanted my girls to attend a spiritual community that affirms the sacred worth of all regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other human measure—one that affirms the many expressions of Spirit we find in one another. It is critical to our generation that Unity offers a long-standing tradition of honoring women and minorities in key leadership roles, such as pioneering and leading churches, prayer chaplain ministries, Silent Unity, Daily Word, Unity Magazine, and on and on because this is atypical in Christian tradition.

The Unity experience offers the works of the Master Teacher, Jesus, through the voices of women, and I want my daughters to hear these voices and to know they have a birthright to spiritual understanding that doesn’t require “mansplaining” and doesn’t demand heteronormative identification of its members. The Unity culture is authentically open and affirming and has been so for decades.

While Unity Village had its own history with segregated student housing in the 1950s, it was a black woman attending the seminary, Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon, who demanded and facilitated change. Scriptures record that Jesus travelled and worked with women, as well as that women founded some of the early churches and taught and healed in the name of Jesus. This model of men and women working together in leadership has been repeated in Unity. As a spiritual movement today, Unity models equality and inclusivity through its Truth teachings. Given the current sociopolitical climate, it’s clear that we have been called for such a time as this.

In Unity, my daughters and I have been given a spiritual community committed to honoring the divine spark inherent in everyone. This is the core blessing that is Unity in my life: Regardless of how broken the world (or even my own heart at times) may seem, the Unity basics forge a path to wholeness for each of us individually and for all of us collectively. In the Unity paradigm, we demonstrate practical Christianity while affirming all spiritual paths that lead to God. It is this very spirit of openness and inclusivity that allows us to be beacons of light for the world.

Author Biography: 

Stephanie Parker

Rev. Jacquie Fernandez-Lenati produces media for unityworldwide.media and teaches at uwsi.org. She is a dynamic speaker with passion for Practical Spirituality who challengers listeners to be agents of change through conscious living. Follow her on Facebook @prayertoaction and learn more at jacquielenati.com.