Is Unity a Church?

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James Dillet Freeman

by James Dillet Freeman

People often ask, “Is Unity a church?”

I usually answer, “What is a church?”

What do you think a church is? Your idea of what a church is may determine what you think Unity is.

We get our English word church from a Greek word, kyriakon. If you mean by church what the Greek word meant, then Unity is a church. For it meant “the center or seat of the Lord’s power.” And Unity certainly is this.

The word kyriakon, from which church is derived, does not appear in the Bible.

The word that is translated as church in the New Testament is another Greek word, ecclesia. It merely meant “the called-out ones,” and Jesus used it to refer to those who were following in the way and doing the work of Christ, carrying His message of Truth to the world. This certainly, too, Unity is doing.

In the first days of Christianity, church could not possibly have referred to a place, because there were no places in which Christians were established. The Christian church consisted simply of a group of dedicated men who wandered about, teaching the truth as they had found it. After a while they established places and built buildings they usually called churches, where they could get together with one another, meet, discuss, and practice their religion. This is a natural thing for people to do.

In the same way, people in Unity have gotten together and set up places they call centers, churches, temples, societies, and the like, where they can meet, exchange their ideas of truth, and help one another to develop their divine potential.

But this has not been a principal way that Unity has found expression. Unity is as much an attitude as an idea and it is a religious movement that is not limited to any particular place or denomination.

Perhaps Unity is a new kind of church.

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James Dillet Freeman (1912 – April 9, 2003), a poet and Unity minister, was the Unity Movement’s poet laureate. He was sometimes referred to as the “poet laureate to the moon” because his poems were twice taken to the moon. His 1941 “Prayer for Protection” was taken aboard Apollo 11 in July 1969 by Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin, and a microfilm of Freeman’s 1947 “I Am There” was left on the moon by James B. Irwin on Apollo 15. Though the essay above was written by Freeman many years ago, it remains a wonderful and relevant description of what we call Unity.