August marks the birthdates of our co-founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and for that reason it has been dubbed Unity Month at many of our centers. This year we will be devoting a Sunday to each of four notable authors in our movement: Myrtle Fillmore, Charles Fillmore, Emilie Cady and Eric Butterworth.
There are of course many other Unity authors whose books are often used but these four are the ones who got the movement off the ground and helped it to weather the transition through that often stormy period immediately after the founders have passed.
One could say that the Unity movement started because Myrtle Fillmore contracted tuberculosis. She was born in 1845 and was diagnosed in 1886 when she was 40 years old. Antibiotics had not been discovered yet and sanitarium treatment for TB had just started in the US in 1885 with only one facility located in New York so most patients were on their own.
Myrtle took matters into her own hands and developed her own form of treatment based on meditation and affirmations. She also had a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition. We now know that untreated TB goes away in approximately 29% of cases and Myrtle succeeded in joining that group under the watchful eye of her husband Charles who was convinced that she was on to something important.
From that experience, Charles Fillmore was inspired to gradually devote all of his time and attention to develop the tenets of what he called “practical Christianity” which emphasized the moral and ethical teachings of Jesus and the use of spiritual practice for physical and emotional health.
In the early years of Unity the Fillmore’s operated out of their home publishing periodicals and pamphlets. During the late 1800’s they asked Emilie Cady to write a series of articles which would systematically summarize their core teachings and those articles were eventually compiled into a book called Lessons In Truth which is still in wide use today.
Like anything that is over 100 years old, Lessons In Truth should not be considered a text book or how to manual. However, the book sets the foundation for a non-theistic, impersonal concept of god which is still difficult for many in the Unity movement to accept. In addition, the book offers a vision of humankind which stressed the importance and power of individual consciousness without the need for salvation from any outside source.
Eric Butterworth was the voice of the second generation in Unity. He was born in Winnipeg Canada in 1916 and attended ministerial school at Unity Village while Charles Fillmore was still alive.
He served as minister at Unity in New York from 1961 to 2003 which met at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall and later at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center with over 2000 in attendance each Sunday.
He is best known as the author of 16 books including New York Times best seller Discover The Power Within You. During his lifetime, Unity realized its greatest period of growth and expansion and we continue to build upon his interpretation of our teachings.