A Snapshot From the Past: The Birth of Unity

By Rev. Eric Page

One hundred twenty-five years ago, Myrtle and Charles Fillmore published Modern Thought magazine and unknowingly birthed a worldwide spiritual movement. They adopted the growing city of Kansas City, Missouri, as their home. They embraced the purpose of encouraging spiritual progress.

In 1889, the middle-aged couple found a new sense of resolve. Myrtle had experienced a healing after being diagnosed with tuberculosis. Prayer was central to Myrtle’s healing practice, directing life-affirming words to “every life-center” in her body. With daily meditation, Charles left behind the pain of a childhood hip injury. An increasing number of friends and acquaintances took notice.

The home life of the Fillmore family may have appeared chaotic as they moved into their fourth home in the city. Charles’ real estate business had also moved four times, but his sales still provided income. At 44, Myrtle was five months pregnant. She gave birth to Royal, the couple’s third child, on July 16. Charles’ mother, Mary Georgiana Fillmore, cared for Lowell, 7, and Rickert, 5, and cooked for the family. Her devoted role allowed the couple time for spiritual pursuits. Together they launched a new and uncertain venture from their small real estate office downtown.

They called their 16-page magazine a “journal of progress,” charging 10 cents an issue or one dollar for a year’s subscription. They printed articles on mind and thought, the body and healing, spiritual growth, and happiness. They cultivated a community for “all who feel the bubbling up within them of the spirit of Universal Love.” Charles and Myrtle were dedicated to sharing spiritual ideas that had transformed their lives. Now, 125 years later, Unity continues to share spiritual principles and inspire transformation with prayer support, spiritual education, publications, online resources, retreats, and wellness.