08 December, 2011

An Open Letter to Practical/New Thought Christian Ministers

Dear Rev ________,

I would like some clarification. Years back during college in the early to mid 90s, I got swept away by the business/personal development seminars craze. In fact I skipped my college courses to attend sales and personal development seminars because I found more value in them versus my college classes. In 94/95 I came across a personal crisis (including getting kicked out of college for academic probation!)  where I decided to attend and join a church. For clarity and such, I wandered into a bookstore in spring of 95 praying that God will help me connect the dots to what I was learning from the church I was attending (The Salvation Army) and to what I learned from past seminars. A book titled Transform Your Life by Dr Rev Barbara King literally fell into my arms afterwards, I bought the book, and I felt connected. Up until that point, I didn't really read The Bible and had no idea how to study it.  When the corps officer (pastor) learned of the book a year later, he reviewed it, told me to not refer to it as it was considered "not truly biblical." My Sunday school teacher even took the reaction further by suggesting that I burn the book.  I placed the book in storage instead.

I officially left The Salvation Army in 2001 and was attending various what is considered "Emergence and/or Post-Modern" Evangelical churches up until last year. In 2007, after hitting a block in my acting endeavors I returned to take courses in the personal development arena and was taking a series of courses until completion in 2009. The church I attended at that time once again discouraged my attendance at such events. Also that time, I came across my tattered copy of Transform Your Life, and re-read it. I looked up the term "New Thought" and began this literary journey researching and studying authors such as Eric Butterworth, H Emilie Cady, Charles Fillmore, Joseph Murphy, Emmet Fox, Catherine Ponder, and Florence Shinn.

This year, I began to attend various worship services in both Unity and Religious Science (Now Center for Spiritual Living) in hopes of attending a Practical Christianity center and/or New Thought Christianity center. The Unity minister at one of the Unity Center I visited announced that she "had never picked up a Bible in her life." I left confused thinking there were several types of religious organizations with the name "Unity" in them.

Are there organizations out there teaching and practicing New Thought/Practical Christianity, and is there a difference between New Thought Christianity and Practical Christianity based on former Unity principles. I'm located in the San Francisco Bay Area. I also travel to Southeast Asia often, and I noticed a lack of a presence there too. (Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, and Hong Kong)

If the New Thought principles is about connection to the inner indwelling of God within by following Jesus' example in order to live an abundant (abundance in every area) life, why does there seem to be a lack of outreach to such teachings? Why does Unity distance themselves from their past as an institution to teach Practical Christianity? Why does the folks at Unity Village not respond when I present such questions to them? I made a few attempts to contact the Conference on Practical Christianity which operates the Charles Fillmore College and there seems to be no listing for centers affiliated with them either.

I consider the works and writings of the aforementioned authors to be not only useful and inspiring, but timeless. They offer a perspective in the application and interpretation of Biblical living that's been under-represented and very much needed. While the majority of Unity center(s) I've visited has been deliberately and consciously referring to this work less and less in their messages and teaching, I feel that we need more. Much more.

Thank you for taking the time and reading this.


Jarrett Chin


  1. Jarrett, please contact Rev. Dr. Thomas Shepherd or read his books (Glimpses of Truth, Friends in High Places), because he is one Unity minister at Unity Village who will definitely respond to your queries with intelligence, critical skill, and fairness. I've experienced a similar trend within the greater Unity movement and am quite disappointed myself, and I'm a Unity minister in training at Unity Institute. If gives you any hope at all, there is a growing group of us currently in ministerial school who are re-claiming our Christian identity, re-embracing Jesus as master-teacher and exemplar/inspiration, and re-engaging the Bible as the primary sacred text from which to draw spiritual wisdom and insight. Hopefully, through out efforts, the problems you mention will be mitigated and eventually resolved. Peace in Christ,


    1. Thanks for the information Jesse. I began to visit the Unity centers in 2011 during the middle of their "rebranding" process, and was confused because the material I read by Cady, Fillmore, Butterworth, and Ponder seemed so foreign to what was discussed at the Unity Centers during my visits.

      Luckily during my visit to the Castro Valley Unity Church, that specific center isn't recognized as having an "official Unity minister," so therefore was passed over and wasn't provided with the "rebrand" materials that was provided to other Unity Centers. Actually she's an ordained Religious Science/Courses in Miracles minister who wanted to study and teach more Biblical based material. When I inquired about Unity Institute masters in religious studies and found out it was no longer offered, I search elsewhere looking into Universal Foundation for Better Living.