Treasures of the Archives

Tracking Time: The Unity Calendars

Unity has become known for its beautiful and inspirational calendars since the first one was published in 1920.

While always carrying positive messages, the Unity calendars through the years would vary in size, design, themes, and languages—and also functionality. There have been pocket-size calendars, special calendars inside Daily Word® and La Palabra Diaria, calendars with no dates, and desk calendars that included room for personal notes like a personal prayer list and special occasions.

Rev. Joyce Kramer and the Fillmore Festival

The Fillmore Festival, an annual gathering of premier Unity scholars first held in California in 1967, has played a critical role in the Unity movement and its history. So has Rev. Joyce Kramer, a formidable Unity trailblazer who’s led the festival for the past 25 years.

This year marks a 50th anniversary and a pivotal year for the festival as Kramer hands over the reins to Unity World Headquarters (UWH), which will start hosting the annual event at Unity Village.

Kramer first took over the festival 25 years ago from Sue Sikking, who organized the first one in April 1967 in Santa Monica, California.

The History of Unity World Day of Prayer

The idea for a World Day of Prayer was born out of a class assignment given to ministerial students at Unity Village in 1993. Rev. Earl Anderson asked his Prayer and Meditation class students to bring everyone together at one place on campus for the intention of united prayer.

Unity students and employees indeed gathered for what the students called a “World Day of Prayer.” The group joined hands as they stood around the central courtyard fountain and prayed together.

Happy Birthday to the Fillmores

In commemoration of the August birthdays of Unity founders Myrtle and Charles Fillmore, the Treasures of the Archives series looks at the early lives of the Fillmores, and the importance of birthdays as expressed in Unity teachings.

“Remember that your physical birthday is a blessed event because it is the symbol of a much more important birthday, your spiritual birthday,” wrote Lowell Fillmore, the Fillmores’ oldest son, in a February 1939 issue of Weekly Unity.

“I Am There” by James Dillet Freeman

James B. Irwin and James Dillet Freeman

It was 1947 when James Dillet Freeman heard the words that would inspire his most beloved and widely known poem, “I Am There.” His wife Katherine was in the hospital after undergoing surgery for cancer.

It was a time of deep personal need, Freeman recalled. “I was in great anguish of spirit.”

When the doctors told him Katherine had terminal cancer, he left the hospital and went to the Silent Unity Prayer and Healing Room at the then-Unity Headquarters at 917 Tracy Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri.

“God,” he prayed aloud, “if you are there, please allow my Katherine to live. Oh, God, where are you?”

Unity and “The Word”

Throughout its history, Unity has turned to the modern media of each era to find new ways in delivering inspiring messages about spiritual living with its early printed materials, radio and television shows, and use of social media today.

Unity had several broadcast programs, including Morning Inspirations, The Unity Viewpoint, The Daily Word, and Voice of Unity, but in April 1969 it launched what would become a very popular TV segment called “The Word.”

The Beginning of Unity and Vegetarianism

Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore became vegetarians in the 1890s, and their views on vegetarianism began surfacing in public as early as 1903.

In those early teachings, Charles expressed his understanding of a person’s diet and the important connectivity it has to spirituality, saying cell regeneration is aided by consuming food of the “highest and purest character.”

“Our food should be full of life in its purity and vigor,” Charles wrote in “As to Meat Eating” in the October 1903 issue of Unity. “There should be no idea of death and decay connected with it in any degree. The vegetable should be fresh and the fruit radiant in its sunny perfection.”

History: Association of Unity Churches/UWM

Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were convinced that their teachings would be so profound when launching the Unity movement that religious denominations would come to acknowledge the importance of their instruction. When this did not happen, Unity followers eventually migrated into groups that became known as “Unity Centers.”

Becoming a proper instructor of the Unity beliefs required a certification process that eventually led to ordination. The first such Unity ordinations were conferred by the Unity Society of Practical Christianity on August 31, 1906. Charles and Myrtle were among the first ordained Unity ministers that year.

Unity: A History of Dedicated Service to Others

Unity has always made a pointed effort to remember Unity friends, family, and leaders who served in ways that left a meaningful impact on the lives of others.

In “A Grandson’s Reflections: An Interview With Charles R. Fillmore,” the first grandchild of Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore describes the elder Fillmore as “very outgoing, generous, and patient.” Just before entering the U.S. Navy in World War II, his grandfather gave him a watch, making a memory to last a lifetime.