A Unity Chronology

Unity was founded in 1889 in Kansas City, Missouri, by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. After Mrs. Fillmore's remarkable healing using prayer and affirmations, many friends became interested in how she accomplished this healing. Unity grew from small prayer circles in living rooms to the worldwide movement it is today.

A Timeline of Unity History

  1845 Mary Caroline Page (Fillmore) is born in Pagetown, Ohio, August 6. As a small girl, she adopts the name Myrtle. She graduates from Oberlin College and later secures a teaching position in Clinton, Missouri. Not a robust person, she is reared in the belief that she is a semi-invalid because she has inherited tuberculosis.
  1854 Charles Sherlock Fillmore is born in St. Cloud, Minnesota, August 22.
  1864 Charles dislocates a hip in a skating accident; disease of the hip develops, leaving him with a withered leg.
  1869 Charles finds employment as a printer’s helper. He is tutored by Mrs. Edgar Taylor and is influenced by the writings of Shakespeare, Tennyson, Emerson, and Lowell. He later works as a grocery clerk and in a bank.
  1874 Charles leaves Minnesota for Caddo, just north of the Texas border in the Indian Territory that is now Oklahoma. Later in the year he leaves Caddo for Denison, Texas.
  1876 Charles meets Myrtle Page in Texas.
  1879 Charles becomes a mule-team driver in Colorado; he later becomes an assayer and sells real estate. Myrtle leaves Texas and returns to Clinton.
  1881 Charles and Myrtle Fillmore marry and settle in Colorado.
  1882 Lowell Fillmore born January 4.
  1884 The Fillmores’ second son, Waldo Rickert Fillmore, is born in Pueblo. The Fillmore family moves to Kansas City, Missouri, where Charles sells real estate.
  1886 Charles and Myrtle attend a New Thought lecture by Dr. E. B. Weeks. Myrtle, ill with tuberculosis, quickly accepts the ideas presented.
  1887 Charles’ interest in New Thought plunges him into the study of various religions and philosophies. He has a dream that foretells his work in Kansas City.
  1888 Myrtle is completely healed of a lifelong tubercular condition.
  1889 Charles Fillmore opens himself to the healing process and gives up his business to devote his time to the study and mastery of Truth teachings. The first issue of Modern Thought is published. Charles and Myrtle’s third son, John Royal Fillmore, is born.
  1890 Modern Thought is renamed Thought. The Society of Silent Help, now Silent Unity®, is formed.
  1891 Charles names the movement Unity. The first issue of Unity magazine is published, with the winged globe emblem. (The word Magazine was officially incorporated into the title in 1994.)
  1893 The first issue of Wee Wisdom® magazine is published. (Publication ceases in 1991.)
  1894 The first “Lesson in Truth” appears in Unity Magazine. Lessons in Truth later becomes the first Unity book.
  1895 Thought is consolidated with Unity. The Fillmores become vegetarians.
  1900 The Sunday School Department is created.
  1903 Unity Society of Practical Christianity is incorporated.
  1905 The Fillmores open Unity Inn (vegetarian) at 913 Tracy Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri.
  1906 The cornerstone for the Unity Society building is laid at 913 Tracy Avenue. Charles and Myrtle accept ordination as Unity ministers and ordain seven other people.
  1909 Weekly Unity begins publication, with Lowell Fillmore as editor. The Unity Correspondence School is established. (It was discontinued in 1973.)
  1910 Unity Inn moves to 923 Tracy.
  1914 Unity School of Christianity is incorporated. 
  1915 The new headquarters building at 917 Tracy Avenue is dedicated.
  1916 Clara May Rowland becomes director of Silent Unity.
  1919 The first 58 acres of the present Unity Village site are purchased in Jackson County, Missouri
  1920 A new two-story building is constructed for Unity Inn at Ninth Street and Tracy Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri. The second floor serves as a community entertainment hall.
  1922 Unity arranges airtime on Kansas City radio station WOQ for the first radio talk. A new magazine, The Christian Business Man, is launched.
  1923 Royal Fillmore makes his transition in September.
  1924 Unity purchases the WOQ radio station and moves it to 917 Tracy Avenue. Charles Fillmore devotes much time to radio lecturing. The first issue of Unity Daily Word is published.
  1925 “The Arches” is built at Unity Farm as a weekend retreat for Charles and Myrtle.
  1926 The Christian Business Man changes to Christian Business.
  1927 Youth magazine launches. 
  1928 The first meeting of Unity leaders is held at Unity Farm. A lot is purchased in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza district for Unity Temple.
  1929 The Unity Tower and the Silent Unity Building at Unity Farm are completed and occupied.
  1931 Myrtle Fillmore makes her transition on October 6. Unity Training School begins sessions. The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary is published.
  1933 Christian Business changes to Good Business. Youth is renamed Progress (discontinued in 1968). Charles Fillmore retires from the pulpit of Unity Society of Practical Christianity. On December 31, he and Cora G. Dedrick are married.
  1934 Radio station WOQ is discontinued.
  1939 The Unity movement celebrates its golden anniversary. Unity Daily Word is renamed Daily Word®.
  1940 Construction (suspended earlier due to economic conditions) resumes at Unity Farm.
  1942 The Heritage Room library is established.
  1946 Unity ministers organize into the Unity Ministers Association. 
  1947 The Printing Department moves from Kansas City to Unity Farm.
  1948 Charles Fillmore makes his transition July 5. Lowell Fillmore is named president of Unity School.
  1949 The new Administration Building at Unity Farm is completed.
  1951 The first spiritual retreat is held at Unity Village.
  1952 Wee Wisdom School, a preschool based on Montessori methods, is established. It is discontinued in 1982.
  1953 Unity Farm becomes Unity Village, and is incorporated on April 13.
  1956 The first Unity television program begins. It is developed by Rosemary Fillmore Rhea, daughter of W. Rickert Fillmore.
  1965 W. Rickert Fillmore makes his transition.
  1966 The Department of World Unity is established to serve ministries outside the United States. The Association of Unity Churches is incorporated. The School for Ministerial and Religious Studies is established to train Unity ministers. Good Business develops into New Magazine.
  1967 The Unity Institute for Continuing Education is established to provide educational programs for Unity students. A carillon is installed in Unity Tower in honor of W. Rickert Fillmore.
  1969 The Unity radio-television program The Word launches. (It ceases airing in 1992.)
  1970 The Unity Cassette Department begins.
  1971 James Dillet Freeman succeeds May Rowland Bezio as director of Silent Unity.
  1972 Weekly Unity and New Magazine are incorporated into Unity Magazine®. Charles Rickert Fillmore is named president of Unity School, and Lowell Fillmore is named president emeritus.
  1974 July marks the 50th anniversary of Daily Word magazine.
  1975 Lowell Fillmore makes his transition. A ceremony is held to dedicate two new buildings: Unity Inn and Unity World Headquarters Activities Center.
  1977 The Lowell Fillmore Memorial Garden is dedicated. A ceremony to dedicate the historical marker at the birthplace of Myrtle Page Fillmore is held in Pagetown, Ohio.
  1978 The Unity Village Community and Visitors Center is completed.
  1979 The Unity movement’s 90th anniversary is celebrated. Unity School for Ministerial and Religious Studies is renamed Unity Ministerial School.
  1980 Unity School for Religious Studies (USRS) is established by the Education Department.
  1983 John A. V. Strickland succeeds James Dillet Freeman as director of Silent Unity. Unity School resumes responsibility for ministerial education. USRS expands to include the Ministerial Education Program.
  1984 Connie Fillmore is appointed executive vice president of Unity School.
  1987 Connie Fillmore succeeds Charles R. Fillmore as president of Unity School. The Unity Development Department is formed.
  1989 The Unity centennial is celebrated. The new Silent Unity Building and the Unity School of Christianity Historical District are dedicated. Chris Jackson is named executive vice president.
  1990 Jim Rosemergy is named an executive vice president. A Spanish Continuing Education Program is developed.
  1991 Mary-Alice and Richard Jafolla succeed John A. V. Strickland as directors of Silent Unity. Wee Wisdom magazine is discontinued.
  1994 Silent Unity satellite ministries are established in Germany, New Zealand, Australia, France, Ghana, Great Britain, and Mexico. The first annual World Day of Prayer is organized.
  1995 The first Unity World Conference is held in Birmingham, England.
  1996 The Unity Rose Garden is accredited by All-America Rose Selections, Inc. (AARS). Unity World Headquarters establishes a home page on the Internet: www.unityworldhq.org.
  1997 Lynne Brown succeeds Mary-Alice and Richard Jafolla as director of Silent Unity.
  1998 The second Unity World Conference is held in Acapulco, Mexico.
  1999 Seventy-fifth anniversary of Daily Word magazine.
  2001 Tom Zender succeeds Connie Fillmore as president and chief executive officer of Unity School. Connie Fillmore succeeds Charles R. Fillmore as chairperson of the Board, and Charles R. Fillmore becomes chairperson emeritus. The responsibility for Unity international field ministries is transferred from Unity School of Christianity to the Association of Unity Churches.
  2002 The first meeting of Unity School’s new Board of Directors is held. The Board is restructured to consist solely of members not currently employed by Unity School.

Unity School for Religious Studies is restructured as Unity Institute. The Unity home page on the Internet, unityonline.org, is expanded as a full-fledged ministry, including a Spanish version. Message of Hope® is launched, serving individuals in various care settings, those experiencing hardship, as well as persons with blindness or visual impairments, with free spiritual resources. James Dillet Freeman makes his transition.

  2004 Unity participates in the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain, and presents a panel discussion on affirmative prayer, facilitated by Dr. Deepak Chopra. There, Unity announces the formation of the Office of Prayer Research—an initiative to gather and promote scientific and medical research about the effects of prayer. A new website is created to support this project: officeofprayerresearch.org.
  2005 The online community of dailyword.com launches. Following a partial collapse, the Bridge of Faith reopens with a dedication ceremony on September 28, 2005. The lobby of the landmark Tower reopens with historical displays. A special Unity Congress convenes for collaborative planning between Unity World Headquarters, the Association of Unity Churches International (now called Unity Worldwide Ministries), and field ministries. Rev. James Trapp is named CEO of the Association of Unity Churches International. A groundbreaking is held for the Unity Village Hotel and Conference Center.
  2006 Charlotte Shelton is named President and CEO of Unity and Tom Zender as president ex officio. Daily Word begins publication in China. The restored Unity Village Amphitheater reopens with a series of summer concerts. Unity Inn celebrates its 100th anniversary. Unity hosts the annual Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest celebration, drawing a crowd of 35,000 to the Village. The Hotel and Conference Center opens. The 30,000-square-foot center is the first new building at Unity Village in more than 17 years and is one of the nation’s first certified “green” hotels, awarded silver LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
  2007 An expanded Unity Village Bookstore and new coffee shop opens. Unity Institute completes its full transition to the new Ministry and Religious Studies program and introduces its first online class, History of New Thought Christianity. Unity.FM, now referred to as Unity Online Radio, launches with daily live programming and program archives. The Unity House brand, the publishing arm of Unity, launches with the publication of Sacred Secrets.
  2008 An online resource for parents and children is introduced: unityfamilymatters.org (discontinued in 2012). Unity welcomes affiliates from around the world during the International Affiliates Conference at Unity Village. Myrtle Fillmore is one of several pioneering women memorialized on the reconstructed Women’s Leadership Fountain, Kansas City’s oldest fountain, located near Ninth Street and Paseo in Kansas City, Missouri. Unity special events are featured online, beginning with Eckhart Tolle’s interview at Unity Village and Jesus and the Awakening to God-Consciousness, a conversation between Deepak Chopra and Rev. Wendy Craig-Purcell.
  2009 A jointly sponsored website, unity.org, is launched by Unity World Headquarters and Unity Worldwide Ministries. Daily Word magazine becomes a bimonthly publication with its 85th anniversary issue in July. A digital version is created for dailyword.com. Daily Word and Unity outreach expands to include Facebook and Twitter social media.
  2010 Silent Unity celebrates its 120th anniversary. A new website is launched, unityvillage.org, for guests traveling to or hosting events at Unity Village. The central courtyard fountains are restored. Unity World Headquarters hosts a Fountain Celebration on September 9, coinciding with the 17th annual World Day of Prayer.
  2011 Unity offers spiritual resources specifically targeted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons on unity.org/lgbt. Unity Books (formerly Unity House) offers titles for e-readers. A mobile edition of Daily Word is created for smartphones.
  2012 Rosemary Fillmore Rhea, granddaughter of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, makes her transition. A new Unity website for Spanish-language constituents is launched at unityenlinea.org. Renovation begins on the Unity Village Tower with the announcement that it will become a holistic healing center.
  2013 Unity World Headquarters dedicates the restored Tower on September 12, coinciding with the 20th annual World Day of Prayer. The opening of Awaken Whole Life Center in the newly restored Tower is celebrated at an outdoor gala on September 13.
  2014 A free mobile prayer app named uPray extends the outreach of the Silent Unity Prayer Ministry. Unity Magazine enters a new phase in a digitized e-format
  2016 Jim Blake is named Chief Executive Officer of Unity World Headquarters. Guy Swanson assumes the newly created role of President/Chief Operating Officer. Unity Worldwide Ministries announces its return to Unity Village and begins the process of occupying a portion of the historic Education Building.