Black leaders illuminate how these universal spiritual teachings speak truth to power
Unity invited several of its Black leaders to consider how the spiritual teachings of Unity support racial equality. Many of them referred to the Five Principles, the universal teachings that are the foundation of Unity and are contained in many of the world’s religions.
“I believe the Five Principles speak truth to power when we think about equality, equity, diversity, and inclusion, not only in Unity but in our society,” said Rev. Sandra Campbell, associate minister at Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, and executive director of the Unity Urban Ministerial School.
First, Rev. Sheree Taylor-Jones elaborates on each principle. Her thoughts serve as a foundational introduction to further ideas offered below by New Thought ministers from around the country.
I see the Unity Five Principles as a blueprint for equality.
Rev. Sheree Taylor-Jones
Ministry Consultant, Author
The First Principle: There is only one power and one presence in the universe, God the good, omnipotence.
This principle tells us that God is the only source, and it can only be of goodness. God creates everything and everyone, so each person is divinely made regardless of the color of their skin or their faith.
The Second Principle: We are each of God. This principle means we are all worthy and more than enough simply because we exist.
I am how God expresses itself, and so are you. And when I look at you, I can only see God. And when you look at me, you can see the love of God magnified.
The Third Principle: We cocreate the world through thoughts held in mind. This is a wonderful reminder of how powerful we truly are.
What we hold in our beliefs is the world that we create around us. It gives us permission to change our beliefs, any beliefs we hold that are not of God. When we are born on this planet, we get indoctrinated into family system beliefs, societal beliefs, and religious beliefs.
This principle is a call to shed those beliefs that are not of God, not of oneness, not of equality. We get to create new beliefs, which create new thoughts that we hold, which then means we create a world that truly is for all people to be seen as valued, worthy, and respected. We can create a world in which everyone is prosperous, joyous, and fulfilled.
The Fourth Principle: It’s really easy to forget Truth, and we have to make a concerted effort to stay connected to Source. Principle 4 says that through prayer and meditation, we align with God.
As we go about living life, we are constantly being told what material things we need to be successful, what education we must have, where to live, how to dress, who to have relationships with, and even who is our friend or foe. And we often forget that these beliefs are erroneous because they are not of God, they are not of oneness. Those beliefs are of separation and lack.
The Fifth Principle (my favorite): We are to live the truth we know. This is a mandate for us to ensure that our thoughts, our words, and our actions are from our knowledge that each person is of God.
Imagine if each time we saw someone, we saw God;that each word we spoke to another, we spoke to their divinity; that each action we take is on behalf of another’s well-being. This is how we start to change the world into a world of abundance and prosperity for all, regardless of the color of one’s skin.
“It Is Paramount That We Live the Truth”
Unity in Harlem, New York City
The second principle [is] that we all have a divine part of us, a spark of God within us, that we are here to express.
The second principle by its very nature supports the idea that we are all equal—regardless of race, or color, or gender, or sexual orientation, or any of the different iterations of humankind that we have.
But the fifth principle is the most important. The fifth principle tells us that it’s not enough to know the truth, but it is paramount that we live the truth. This directly speaks to how we operate in a fashion that supports racial equality.
It’s not enough to know intellectually that we’re all equal. We must stand up and represent this when we see the opposite happening in our lives or in the world.
“We Are One with God and Therefore We Are One with Each Other”
Rev. Edith Washington-Woods
Unity San Diego, California
Unity teachings boldly declare that we are one with God and therefore we are one with each other. We affirm: God is, I am, I think, I pray, and I take action. Practicing and embracing our Unity principles moment by moment ensures equity for all.
My lived experience as a Black spiritual leader allows me to be my authentic self. As a child and adult survivor of abuses, a person in 12-step recovery, a lesbian, and a single parent of four Black sons, I have the ability to have empathy, compassion, and a shared understanding. I am a survivor.
My congregants come from all walks of life. Because of my life journey, I am able to listen and respect everyone who walks through our doors, whether it’s those who are unhoused or millionaires, to embrace all spiritual communities and the unchurched, as well as people of all gender identities …
Our intention and promise is to be intimately involved with our community by giving service to others and using our Unity principles in every area of our lives, our community, and beyond.
“We Should Be Holding the Circle Open for the Transformation That Is Necessary”
Rev. Kevin Kitrell Ross
Unity of Sacramento, California
I believe the Unity teachings are ideal for times like this when we are asking questions about racial equality. Our core belief is that I am one with God, I am one with all people, and I am one with all life.
When we really understand our oneness with one another, then we move from holding the ideal of unity as a passive virtue and a passive philosophy to becoming unifiers. This is the bridge-builder that causes the coming together of all people of all backgrounds and walks of life to share the common good that is all our birthright.
Especially for Unity people and those of us who consider ourselves positive idealists and New Thought, it is time for us to move beyond mere philosophy and rhetoric of these beliefs and move from being practitioners to what I call way-showers.
We should be leading the conversations, we should be leaning in the tensions, and we should be holding the circle open for the transformation that is necessary at this particular time. We know what it means to be one and therefore we should lead the work of oneness, lead the work of fairness, lead the bridge-building work of these times, pressing our leaders to make sure policies are more inclusive.
For many of us, it’s going to prompt a new type of spiritual activism that is needed at this particular time.
In short, it’s not about talking the talk. Now more than ever, it’s about walking the walk—not about theology but about be-ology, being the message that we bring.
“We Must Be the Vision We Want to See in This World”
Rev. James Trapp
Senior Minister, Spiritual Life Center, Sacramento
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about oneness when he called it the interrelated structure of reality, and we are to live from the realization of this oneness. When we do, we move closer to fulfilling our potential as spiritual beings. And we dissolve the illusion that we are separate from each other as well as the presence of God.
Universal spiritual teachings can help us live out this truth and help us move to being a fair and just society for all who are part of it. And so we may ask, How do these teachings help do that? It’s a question worth contemplating if we are to create a world in which the cancerous energy of hate no longer exists and we are to have a world in which everyone, absolutely everyone, regardless of origin, nationality, citizenship status, their race, culture, or religious background is treated as the wonderful child of God we all are.
It begins with each of us. We must be the vision we want to see in this world. When we express the unchanging and eternal qualities of the universe, our actions reflect those qualities. And one of the most important qualities we can have in today’s world is compassion.
When we see the world with compassionate eyes, when we see the world with compassionate hearts, we will treat others as we want to be treated. And we will recognize there are no others, there is only us, and we are all one.
“We Find Ourselves Today in What I Call Fifth Principle Times”
Rev. Kathy Beasley
Central Florida Center for Spiritual Living, Orlando
The words of the teachings are just that—words—and they will always be words until there’s a systematic shift from words to a more consistent practice in our world. [Or] nothing’s ever going to change.
The Unity teachings have to become just words, that invitatory language of justice seeking. Our Unity teachings have to become the bellwether of compassionate response to the global distress call.
I believe we find ourselves today in what I call “fifth principle times”—where it is not enough to move through the world only knowing a truth. We have to, on every occasion, seek to rise up and live aloud the Truth that the soul of us has always known.
Unity teachings can do more to support all levels of equality when they reach beyond the limits of those who only see the new thought about spirituality or Christianity and begin to change the heart of all of humanity.
“These Principles Help Us to Develop a Greater Self-Image and a Greater Sense of Self-Worth”
Rev. Saba Mchunguzi
Unity of Huntington, Huntington Station, New York
I like the Unity principles and the Unity teachings because they level the playing field. They show us—they show everyone—that everyone is a child of God and is capable of living a good and fulfilling life, and that everyone has gifts and talents and abilities.
The Unity teachings show us that spiritually we are all equal, in spite of the outer differences that we may have, whether it be race or whether it be gender or whether it be income or education.
These teachings show us that everyone has the inner potential, that divine spark within them, that can help them to overcome adversity, that can help them to manifest their dreams and goals.
And it especially shows Black people, who have been marginalized in this country, that they can overcome the racism and discrimination that they’ve had to endure. It helps everyone to realize that even though life knocks them down, they can get up.
If life knocks you down 10 times, these Unity principles encourage and inspire and motivate people to get up 11 times.
These principles help us to develop a greater self-image and a greater sense of self-worth. They inspire us to achieve more, to have more, and to strive to be more, and they help us to discount and eliminate from our consciousness the feeling that we can’t achieve certain things, the feeling that we are less than others. This is why I just love these Unity teachings that I’ve been in for more than 50 years and that have helped me and many others in so many ways.
"Unity teachings show us that spiritually we are all equal, in spite of the outer differences that we may have, whether it be race or whether it be gender or whether it be income or education."
For additional inspiration, request your copy of Gems of Wisdom from Black Leaders of New Thought for memories, stories, and poems from Black spiritual leaders.