The Unity movement is a distinctive American Christian religion founded by Myrtle and Charles Fillmore in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1889. The Fillmores studied world religions, spiritual healing, and the links between science and religion, after Myrtle, who suffered from tuberculosis, believed that she had been cured through spiritual healing. The Fillmores named their ministry “Unity” in 1891. The Unity churches or centers that emerged from this ministry stress individual freedom and fulfillment, the teachings of Jesus, the omnipresence of the Christian god, the presence of the Christ figure in all humankind, and affirmative prayer. It is noncreedal, an attitude and teaching rather than a doctrine. The Fillmores established Unity’s global headquarters in Unity Village, Missouri, located to the west of Kansas City. It is called the Unity School of Christianity.
Unity of Indianapolis, located at the intersection of Delaware and 9th streets, grew out of a study class begun in 1914 on Blake Street. The congregation has always belonged to the Association of Unity Churches but is governed by its own board and minister. Each Unity church seeks affiliation according to the association’s guidelines. Murrel Powell Douglass ministered to Unity of Indianapolis from 1918 to the 1950s in various locations around the city. Under his direction, the Indianapolis church was incorporated in 1923. Rev. Charles Roth took over ministering of the congregation in 1956.
In 1952, Unity bought the middle strip of land at its present address and erected a building. In December 1964, the members dedicated a new 480-seat sanctuary, reported to be the first built in downtown Indianapolis in 25 years. Designed by local Indianapolis architect James Rennard, the outer lobby features a stone waterfall, symbolizing the living waters of truth, and a terrazzo floor mosaic, depicting the gospel account of the two fishes and basket of bread (Matthew 14:19-21). The old building was used for offices and Sunday School facilities. A building to the south was bought in 1965 but was not joined to the existing facility until 1972.
In 1988, Unity Church of Today was set up in. It first operated out of Mohawk Trails Elementary School before moving to West Carmel Drive in the Carmel Science and Technology Center. Though still active in 2010, the church has since folded.
Unity focuses on prayer, publishing, and community. A prayer ministry, called Silent Unity, is a major feature of Unity, along with a large publishing program that includes the Daily Word and Unity Magazine. Unity of Indianapolis sponsors a variety of programming including an “EarthCare Team,” workshops, music concerts, and its own chapter of the Youth of Unity (YOU), for high school-aged teenagers. Each year YOU members take part in a national weekend retreat or “rally.”
Unity is open and inclusive. Its members issued a formal Statement of Diversity in 1995, and it has a history of being open to and supportive of the LGBTQ community.