Charles Fillmore (Unity Church)

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Charles Sherlock Fillmore
Charles Fillmore (Unity Church).jpg
Born(1854-08-22)August 22, 1854
DiedAugust 5, 1948(1948-08-05) (aged 93)
Myrtle Page (m. 18811931)

Cora G. Dedrick(m. 19331948)
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New Thought

Charles Sherlock Fillmore (August 22, 1854 – July 5, 1948) founded Unity, a church within the New Thought movement, with his wife, Myrtle Page Fillmore, in 1889. He became known as an American mystic for his contributions to spiritualist interpretations of biblical Scripture.

Unity Church

Unity, known informally as Unity Church, is a New Thought Christian organization that publishes the Daily Word devotional publication. It describes itself as a "positive, practical Christianity" which "teach[es] the effective daily application of the principles of Truth taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ" and promotes "a way of life that leads to health, prosperity, happiness, and peace of mind."

The New Thought movement is a movement which developed in the United States in the 19th century, considered by many to have been derived from the unpublished writings of Phineas Quimby. There are numerous smaller groups, most of which are incorporated in the International New Thought Alliance.

Myrtle Fillmore American writer

Mary Caroline "Myrtle" Page Fillmore was an American who was co-founder of Unity, a church within the New Thought Christian movement, along with her husband Charles Fillmore. Prior to that time, she worked as a schoolteacher.



He was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota on August 22, 1854.

St. Cloud, Minnesota City in Minnesota, United States

St. Cloud is a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and the largest population center in the state's central region. Its population is 67,984 according to the 2017 US census estimates, making it Minnesota's tenth largest city. St. Cloud is the county seat of Stearns County and was named after the city of Saint-Cloud, France, which was named after the 6th-century French monk Saint Clodoald.

An ice skating accident when he was ten broke Fillmore's hip and left him with lifelong disabilities. [1] In his early years, despite little formal education, he studied Shakespeare, Tennyson, Emerson and Lowell as well as works on spiritualism, Eastern religions, and metaphysics. [2] [3]

Ralph Waldo Emerson American philosopher, essayist, and poet

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

He met his future wife, Mary Caroline "Myrtle" Page, in Denison, Texas in the mid-1870s. After losing his job there, he moved to Gunnison, Colorado where he worked at mining and real estate. [4]

Denison, Texas City in Texas, United States

Denison is a city in Grayson County, Texas, United States. It is 75 miles (121 km) north of Dallas. The population was 22,682 at the 2010 census. Denison is part of the Texoma region and is one of two principal cities in the Sherman–Denison Metropolitan Statistical Area. Denison is known as the birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States.

Gunnison, Colorado Home Rule Municipality in Colorado, United States

The City of Gunnison is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Gunnison County, Colorado, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 5,854. It was named in honor of John W. Gunnison, a United States Army officer who surveyed for the transcontinental railroad in 1853. Gunnison is a Home Rule municipality which reserves the right to choose how it is governed.

He married Myrtle in Clinton, Missouri on March 29, 1881 and the newlyweds moved to Pueblo, Colorado, where Charles established a real estate business with the brother-in-law of Nona Lovell Brooks, who was later to found the Church of Divine Science. [4]

Clinton, Missouri City in Missouri, United States

Clinton is a city in Henry County, Missouri, United States. The population was 9,008 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Henry County.

Pueblo, Colorado City in Colorado, United States

Pueblo is a home rule municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Pueblo County, Colorado, United States. The population was 106,595 in 2010 census, making it the 267th most populous city in the United States and the 9th largest in Colorado. Pueblo is the heart of the Pueblo Metropolitan Statistical Area, totaling over 160,000 people and an important part of the Front Range Urban Corridor. As of 2014, Pueblo is the primary city of the Pueblo–Cañon City combined statistical area (CSA) totaling approximately 208,000 people, making it the 134th largest in the nation.

The Church of Divine Science is a religious movement within the wider New Thought movement. The group was formalized in San Francisco in the 1880s under Malinda Cramer. "In March 1888 Cramer and her husband Frank chartered the 'Home College of Spiritual Science'. Two months later Cramer changed the name of her school to the 'Home College of Divine Science'." during the dramatic growth of the New Thought Movement in the United States.

Introduction to New Thought

After the births of their first two sons, Lowell Page Fillmore and Waldo Rickert Fillmore, the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri. Two years later, in 1886, Charles and Myrtle attended New Thought classes held by Dr. E. B. Weeks. Myrtle subsequently recovered from chronic tuberculosis and attributed her recovery to her use of prayer and other methods learned in Weeks' classes. Subsequently, Charles began to heal from his childhood accident, a development which he too attributed to following this philosophy. Charles Fillmore became a devoted student of philosophy and religion. [5]

Kansas City, Missouri City in western Missouri

Kansas City is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city had an estimated population of 488,943 in 2017, making it the 37th most-populous city in the United States. It is the central city of the Kansas City metropolitan area, which straddles the Kansas–Missouri state line. Kansas City was founded in the 1830s as a Missouri River port at its confluence with the Kansas River coming in from the west. On June 1, 1850 the town of Kansas was incorporated; shortly after came the establishment of the Kansas Territory. Confusion between the two ensued and the name Kansas City was assigned to distinguish them soon after.

Tuberculosis Infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis. About 10% of latent infections progress to active disease which, if left untreated, kills about half of those affected. The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. It was historically called "consumption" due to the weight loss. Infection of other organs can cause a wide range of symptoms.

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

In 1889, Charles and Myrtle began publication of a new periodical, 'Modern Thought', notable among other things as the first publication to accept for publication the writings of the then 27-year-old New Thought pioneer William Walker Atkinson. In 1890, they announced a prayer group that would later be called 'Silent Unity'. In 1891, Fillmore's 'Unity' magazine was first published. Dr. H. Emilie Cady published 'Lessons in Truth' in the new magazine. This material later was compiled and published in a book by the same name, which served as a seminal work of the Unity Church. Although Charles had no intention of making Unity into a denomination, his students wanted a more organized group. He and his wife were among the first ordained Unity ministers in 1906. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore operated the Unity organizations from a campus near downtown Kansas City. [3]


Myrtle Fillmore died in 1931. Charles remarried in 1933 to Cora G. Dedrick who was a collaborator on his later writings. [4] Charles Fillmore died in 1948. Unity continued, growing into a worldwide movement; Unity World Headquarters at Unity Village and Unity Worldwide Ministries are the organizations of the movement. [6]

Tenets and Beliefs

In a pamphlet called "Answers to Your Questions About Unity", poet James Dillet Freeman says that Charles and Myrtle both had health problems and turned to some new ideas which they believed helped to improve these problems. Their beliefs are centered on two basic propositions: (1) God is good. (2) God is available; in fact, God is in you. The pamphlet goes on to say that: [7]

About a year after the Fillmores started the magazine Modern Thought, they had the inspiration that if God is what they thought - the principle of love and intelligence, the source of all good - God is wherever needed. It was not necessary for people to be in the same room with them in order for them to unite in thought and prayer.

In his later years, Fillmore felt so young that he thought that he might be physically immortal, as well as believing that he might be the reincarnation of Paul of Tarsus. [8] Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were vegetarians.


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  1. Vahle, Neal (2002) The Unity movement: its evolution and spiritual teachings, Templeton Foundation Press, p. 33-34.
  2. "Charles Sherlock Fillmore" in Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, 5th ed. Gale Group, 2001. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009, accessed September 2009.
  3. 1 2 "A Timeline of Unity History", Association of Unity Churches, accessed September 2009.
  4. 1 2 3 Gale Publishing Group, "Charles Fillmore" in Religious Leaders of America, 2nd ed. Gale Group, 1999. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008., accessed September 2009.
  5. Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 4: 1946-1950. American Council of Learned Societies, 1974, reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008., accessed September 2009.
  6. See, e.g., Ferm, Vergilius (ed). An Encyclopedia of Religion; Westport, CT: Greenwood Press (1976; 1st ed. pub. 1945 by Philosophical Library); pg. 805.
  7. Answers to Your Questions About Unity James Dillet Freeman, Unity School of Christianity, Unity Village, MO.
  8. Charles S. Braden. Spirits in Rebellion: The Rise and Development of New Thought, p. 260.