CORNELIUS – At Unity of Lake Norman services, members say the vibe is open, comfortable and accepting.
“It’s very much like a large living room,” member Margaret Brewer said. “The chairs are situated in a circular fashion, and it’s very much like walking into a social event.”
Opening its doors in February, the religious group has about 40 members on its mailing list.
The Rev. Jacqueline Mace has been an ordained and licensed Unity minister since 1997. She studied metaphysics and the Bible for two years at Unity Institute and Seminary within Unity Village, the faith’s world headquarters located just outside Kansas City, Mo.
Describing itself as “positive, practical Christianity,” Unity Church teaches the daily application of the principles exemplified by Jesus Christ.
Mace said the faith puts a bit more emphasis on the New Testament and believes Jesus expressed his divine potential to show humanity how to express its own.
“What can we do when we’re really connected with God? When we retain that relationship above and beyond all others?” Mace articulated as fundamental questions of the faith.
The group is perhaps best known for “Daily Word,” its inspirational message about themes of hope, healing and inner peace distributed by magazine, website and email.
Another free, famous service offered by the group is Silent Unity, a prayer network reached by dialing 1-800-NOW-PRAY. Trained prayer ministry associates answer each call 24/7 and place requests in the Silent Unity Prayer Vigil Chapel for 30 days of continuous prayer in Unity Village.
Back in Cornelius, church meetings – which culminate in lunch at Acropolis Café and Grille – include songs, readings from the Bible and other sources as well as a minister’s lesson and time for meditation, gratitude, affirmative prayer and hugs. Services are open to those of every denomination or none at all and honor the universal truth in all religions.
“We say affirmations of what we want to live, and then we become aware of conscious beliefs that we brought into our world that aren’t true,” Mace said. “We create our reality. We co-create with this energy that we call God, moment by moment.”
Many people, Denver resident and church member Kate Cameron said, seem to be moving away from formal doctrine and toward spiritual experiences and deeper connections with the divine in their religious practices.
A former Catholic, she discovered Unity 15 years ago in Massachusetts.
“A friend of mine dragged me into Unity kicking and screaming, plunked me into the front row. I sat there and listened to that minister, and I just started to weep,” Cameron said. “Jesus is our brother and our way shower. And if we all behaved more like he did, it would be a very different, loving, kind, compassionate, caring world.”
Raised in the Lutheran faith, Mace said at a young age she “drank the Kool-Aid” but grew up feeling frustrated that no one could answer her deeper questions about spirituality and how life worked.
“We encourage questions; we encourage discourse,” she said of Unity. “This way it becomes your faith and not just somebody else’s that you’ve adopted. It needs to be real to you. It needs to live in your heart.”
After discovering Unity in 1978 during a period of religious exploration, Mace felt called to become a minister. She describes making the transition from being “the peanut lady to the preacher lady.” She spent 15 years before becoming a minister working as a sales representative for Nabisco, representing Planters nuts to Walmart and Sam’s Club in Kansas, Texas and later, North Carolina.
“I love providing a safe place for people to walk in and come with any questions, any anger that they may have at God or religion or what happened in a church,” she said of her new career.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, who founded the faith in 1889, also took a zigzagging path toward Unity. After moving to Kansas City and attending New Thought classes held by E.B. Weeks, Myrtle recovered from chronic tuberculosis. She attributed her healing to saying prayers and affirmations learned in the classes. The couple began hosting prayer circles, and Unity sprouted up from those meetings.
Rather than petitioning God for something, affirmative prayer means connecting with the spirit of God and professing positive beliefs about a desired outcome. Instead of saying, “Please God, help me find a job,” a Unity member may say, “I am now guided to my right and perfect employment.”
“What we look upon, what we think about, is what we will produce in our lives,” Mace said. “So that’s why we want to be aware of what we’re thinking. Are we interpreting a situation in a positive manner or a negative one? Do we believe that God is good all the time?”
Want to worship?
Unity of Lake Norman meets each Sunday at 10 a.m. at The Nook Store, 19621 W. Catawba Ave., Cornelius.