Report from Unity Convention 2019: One Humanity, Many Stories
One Humanity, Many Stories “If You Knew My Story, You Couldn’t Help but Love Me” “Once upon a time . . .” This is the way so many of our favorite stories from childhood begin. And, indeed, this seems like the story of my life in the far-distant past, at least as far as I remember it from the vantage point of half-a-century later! The theme for this year’s annual Unity People’s Convention sparked a lot of aha moments for me. It especially seems relevant given the month of July’s spiritual power/ability–understanding. I was surprised by much of what I heard and experienced during the seminars I attended as part of the conference, as well as the stories of the four keynote speakers. I had traveled to the convention thinking that the first day was going to be the best one, and the only one that was really worth attending. Therefore, I left Missoula a day earlier than absolutely necessary, since I didn’t want to miss the first day which was to be held at Unity Village rather than the conference hotel in Overland Park. Indeed, the first day was glorious! I left the hotel on the shuttle bus about 11:00, after having a rather leisurely morning. Unity Village is in Missouri, across the state line from Overland Park. I got there in time to browse the bookstore (always high on my list); eat a barbecue lunch outside next to Unity Temple; take an elevator ride to the top of the Unity water tower; take a one-person (me!) guided tour of the Blue Room, the underground tunnel system), the publishing/shipping center, the Unity archives, and the Silent Unity building. I also attended the afternoon prayer service in the Silent Unity Chapel, spent time in the Charles Fillmore meditation room, visited the new Lowell Fillmore grove, and sat in the Myrtle Fillmore grove. Some things were new to me, some were like visiting old friends. There was an opening reception to meet the new graduating class of Unity ministers and Licensed Unity teachers. Lastly, there was the opening evening service with music and a message from Rev. Sharon Ketchum from Lansing, Michigan. By the end of the day, I was exhausted, and grateful to catch a ride back to the convention hotel with several women there for the graduation. Tuesday morning brought a talk from Brian Andreas (Kai Andreas Skye), a storyteller, artist and publisher, who currently resides in Bozeman. His talk consisted of several stories, some of which I will be stealing–er–re-using for future talks. In the afternoon we had the choice of 14 different seminars. I chose to attend one called “More than Just Sex,” which was about sexual harassment, and covered the necessary ethics credit. The second one was “Uncommon Friends,” which focused on diversity and learning to accept the spiritual paths of other humans. I was extremely glad I chose this seminar, since it gave us the chance to read the stories of people who are Islam, Hindu, Jewish, etc. The leader of the workshop said the path that seemed to generate the most difficulty for Unity people to accept was that of Fundamental Christianity. I had to admit that this is a path that has proven hard for me to stay out of judgment. As you can tell, I was learning a lot! The keynote speaker Wednesday morning was a young, gay, black man, David Lewis-Peart, who grew up in the projects in Toronto with, and without sometimes, a mentally-ill mother. He has gone on to become a poet, educator, former minister, and has received several awards including the inaugural Walden New Thought Award, which recognizes socially conscious leaders making change in the world. After lunch on our own, we had our regional meeting with those from our Northwest region who were there. It was fun to re-connect with several people I have met through the years. Next, we again had to make the choice of which of seven seminars to attend. I chose “Stories of Gender Identity,” which fulfilled one of the diversity requirements. It was fascinating, and alerted me (again) to what I need to overcome. Thursday morning was the one I dreaded–the business meeting! I was definitely wanting to be there, however, since there was a proposed (and passed!) amendment to the bylaws for the Association of Unity Churches, which changes one word in the passage concerning bylaws for member churches. The word change is from “recommended” bylaws for each church to “required” bylaws. This means that every church which is a member of the Association must now have their bylaws approved by the Association if they are using bylaws that do not conform to what the Association has recommended. I believe this is to help prevent problems with non-credentialed people trying to take over the leadership of individual churches. This is a business item that our own Missoula Board will have to take into consideration. The meeting in general went well, and we elected a friend of mine to the Leadership and Development Team, which made me happy. Once again we had seven seminars to choose from late in the afternoon. I chose “Death, Dying, and Grieving in America,” led by a Unity minister/Hospice chaplain/R.N. Richard Carlini. It was insightful and empowering. I was just sorry I couldn’t attend all the seminars–they were so incredible! Thursday evening brought the banquet and awards ceremony, followed by music with the Unity musicians who had been serenading us all week: Richard Mekdeci, Daniel Nahmod, Sue Riley, and Faith Rivera. As usual, they were the hit of the evening. The last keynote speaker was Magie Cook, who spoke Friday morning. She told a moving story of growing up in a Mexican orphanage with her five brothers. She broke free of that life when, through a series of miracles, she was given a basketball scholarship to attend the University of South Carolina. Hers was truly a rags-to-riches story, and she continues to use her talents to help other Mexican children escape the clutches of the drug cartels. This Unity People’s Convention was amazing, inspiring, and lots of fun. I want to give a special thanks to all of you, who, through Unity’s Board of Trustees, paid my fee for the convention. I am so blessed, renewed, and filled with new excitement about sharing the stories that I learned this June! Linda Andrus, Licensed Unity Teacher
Unity of Missoula has moved all Services and Classes to on-line format
Unity of Missoula is moving all Services and classes to on-line until further notice because of the corona virus.
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