A small group of earnest seekers of truth in Hawai’i found each other in 1930. They began to study together with the teachings of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and to incorporate their understanding of themselves as the “Image and Likeness of God” in their daily lives. They began to communicate with the leadership of the Headquarters of the Association of Unity Churches, located near Kansas City, Missouri at the Unity Village. This small group had a vision of having their own Unity branch church with their own ordained Unity minister.
The prayerful work of the faithful was answered in 1937 when Miss Marie Parker Handly heard the Call to Service, left her position at Unity School in Missouri, and made the pilgrimage to Honolulu to organize the Unity Chruch of Hawai’i. Reverend Marie’s first Church Service was held on Sunday morning, October 10, 1937, in the old Boston Building that was located on Fort Street. Reports indicate that 20 people were in attendance. They had gathered $400 to start the Church treasury. The Unity Chruch of Hawai’i officially became a reality. From 1937 through 1963 the church’s official name was: The Unity Church of Truth of Honolulu, Hawai’i.
Anticipating continued growth, the congregation followed Reverend Handly’s recommendation that they find a larger and more permanent location for their Chruch home, by moving their services to 240 Lewers Road in Waikiki in 1939. They soon purchased the property and entered into a period of sustained growth that continued during the 24 years of devoted leadership provided by Rev. Handly. She retired on May 1, 1961.
The Reverend Thomas Hopper served Unity Chuch of Hawai’i as Senior Minister from May 1, 1961, to July 1, 1962.
On Nov 1, 1962, Reverend Phillip Pierson assumed the mantle of leadership as Senior Minister, and along with his wife Dorothy, provided leadership for the Church until January 1, 1967. Reverend Dorothy Pierson was officially hired as Co-Minister on July 1, 1963. When Reverends Phillip and Dorothy arrived, they were informed that the Honolulu Church had sold the property it owned on Lewers Road to Roy Kelly. It was sold with the understanding that Kelly would provide ground floor space for the Church in the hotel he would be building on that property. In the meantime, the Chruch had a tiny office in another of Kelly’s hotels (the Waikiki Surf Hotel) and held services there in an open courtyard area of that facility. There were then only about twenty people in regular attendance.
Rev. Phil soon realized that the facility being offered for services in the new Kelly hotel would forever limit the growth of the Chruch. The Church leadership began looking for property to buy. It would have to be in the Honolulu area, and be within the budgeted amount of approximately $250,000, the amount that Roy Kelly had paid for the old church property. They looked unsuccessfully for some time and finally told Kelly that they would be using his hotel space.
Then they received a call from a realtor saying he had heard the Church was looking for a property, He said he represented a woman (Mrs. Ronnie Thornally) who wanted to sell her island home at 3608 Diamond Head Circle. When Phillip and Dorothy first saw the property they said, “This is what Spirit has prepared for us!” The Church was able to purchase the property after meeting with all the neighbors in the Circle and telling them about the Church and gaining their approval. The purchase was made for the sum of $92,500.
On April 11, 1964, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on the Diamond Head site. Potter and Potter, local architects, put together the plans for a chapel that would seat 200 persons. The facility cost $70,000 to construct. A service to Consecrate Chapel was held on November 22, 1964, and Lowell Fillmore, son of Unity founders Myrtle and Charles Fillmore, was on had to represent the Unity School of Christianity. A special service was held in the new Sanctuary on Sunday, November 29, 1964, designated as “Lowell Fillmore Sunday”, with Tev Fillmore presenting a talk entitled “The Early Days of the Unity Movement”.
Rev. Phil and the leadership of the congregation knew they needed more property and began to envision the property adjoining as “already being ours.” It was. owned by a moan living on the Mainland. He had told his realtor that he would only sell for a large profit, which the Church was not in a position to pay. Holding to the assurance that “Spirit always provides,” Rev. Phip soon received a call from the realtor who said the owner had gotten into difficulty financially and needed immediate cash. He offered to sell his property for a fair price, and the Chruch accepted it. The current Church facilities are located on these properties. While not wanting to leave Hawai’i, the Piersons were asked by Unity Headquarters to accept a new challenge in Sacrament, CA at the end of 1966.
V. Stanford Hampson became the Senior Minister on February 1, 1967, and served in that capacity until August 1, 1975. During his tenure, the church continued to grow and thrive. Under his direction, Unity Church of Hawai’i (Honolulu) reached out to Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawai’i to help develop congregations in those areas. The facilities on Diamond Head Circle continued to be developed.
On February 1, 1975, V Michael Murphy joined Unity Church of Hawai’i as its Senior Minister. On September 1, 1980 Phillip Smedstad was hired to work with Rev. Michael as an Associate Minister. His particular assignment was to oversee the renovation of the Diamond Head Church. On May 1, 1982, Rev Phillip became the Senior Minister at the newly organized Windward Unity Chruch of Hawai’i. The Windward church evolved from the conscious efforts to expand Unity on the Island of Oahu. Rev. Michael had led a group of locals to the first service of the Windward Unity Church that resulted in 340 people participating at the event. He continued to serve as Senior Minister at Unity Church of Hawai’i until August 1, 1983.
Judith Childress was hired as an Associate Minister from July 1, 1982, to November 1, 1983.
On September 1, 1983, Reverend David McClure was hired to be Senior Minister. His wife, Donna McClure, was also hired on that date to be the Assistant to the Senior Minister. Both continued in those capacities until April 1, 1991.
While here, Rev. David and the Church tried a new fundraising event called The Talents Project. They gave away $20 bills to the congregation and told them to go, use their talents, and increase the $20. It was based on Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. After eight weeks, the increase amounted to over $20,000. Reverend Carol Wright was the Associate Minister of Unity Church of Hawai’i from July 1, 1990, to October 1, 1992. She was a Licensed Unity Teacher and was Ordained as a Unity Minister in 1990.
Reverend Nicholas Griffin served as Interim Minister from April 1, 1991, to October 1, 1991.
Reverend John Stickland became the Senior Minister on September 1, 1991, and continued in that post until March 1, 2001. He is particularly proud of the number of individuals who became Unity Ministers while he was at the helm of Unity Church of Hawai’i.
One of these Individuals was Suzanne Cameron Stover, the Education Director for the Church. She went through the “Field Licensing Program” of the Association of Unity Churches, was Ordained, and founded a Unity Church on the island of Kauai. Another individual, a Waikiki entertainer, and soloist for the Church, named Patrick Dickson heard the Call, became Ordained and changed his name to Sky Liko St. John. Many Rev. Joun’s creations have touched and still touch the hearts of many to this day. In addition to Unity Ministers and innovative programs, one of Rev. John’s creations is the “Handly-Pierson Stained Glass” window on the chancel that he’d commissioned Michel Caron to create. He also created a prayer room and asked Janet Starn to recreate the neural “Peace Be Still”, from Unity Village, on one of its walls.
Reverend Mari Gabrielson was hired as the Associate Minister on November 1, 1992, and held that post until April 1, 2001, when she was elevated to the position of Senior Minister. She was Senior Minister until February 1, 2003, Re.l Mari introduced the “Season for Peace and Non-Violence” to Oahu. The Chruch hosted Arun Gandhi (grandson of Mahatma Gandhi), and James Twyman (The Troubador of Peace).
On April 9, 2003, Reverend John Wingfield was hired as the Interim Senior Minister and worked in that capacity through May 1, 2005. On July 15, 2005, Reverend Sky St. John was asked to be the Temporary Senior Minister at Unity Church of Hawai’i and he accepted. He was made the Senior Minister on February 27, 2006, and served in this capacity until he made his transition on December 19, 2013. Rev. Sky had a wealth of ideas to grow Unity Church of Hawai’i and a seemingly equal amount of energy to accomplish all of it.
Among Rev. Sky’s ideas was his global vision for the Pacific Rim region of the world. He called it, The Unity Pacific Rim Region. His vision also included the formation of the Unity National School Pacific Rim and he appointed Rev. Gary Canier as the Interim Director to oversee its development. Together, Rev Gary and Rev. Sky along with Rev. Xiomara Malagon and Grace Magana, both of Unity World Wide Ministries, worked on a proposal. The Unity Pacific Rim Region and UNSPR were approved by the UWM Board in 2012. Rev. Mindy Tucker served as the first Coordinator of UNSPR’s International Ministerial Program followed by Rev. Suzanne Cameron Stover. The UNSPR has trained and offered Ordination and received UWM approval for Unity Ministers: Rev. Florence Monzon, and Rev. Leavitt Thomas. It has offered for credentialing and received UWM approval for Licensed Unity Ministers: Rev. Ann Hickey and Rev. Margie Hyatt. And it has trained and offered for credentialing and received UWM approval for LIcensed Unity Teachers: Dr. Catherine Burton, LUT; June Dillinger, LUT; Rhonda Felix, LUT; and Johanna Kelly, LUT. The UNSPR continues to serve the Unity Pacific Rim Region.
Reverend Dr. Micholas Griffin served as Interim Minister from April 2014 to September 2014 and saw Unity Chruch of Hawai’i through a season of grieving. Upon recommendations from the Ministerial Search Team Reverend Dr. Jack Bomar was selected to serve as Unity Church of Hawai’i’s Senior Minister on November 1, 2014. Rev. Jack brought with him an energetic and faith-driven consciousness and with fresh eyes, saw a church desperately in need of a lot of tender loving care. He, together with a newly formed Facilities Team, spearheaded an ambitious campaign to raise monies for major renovations to the sanctuary and campus grounds.
Miraculously, and surprising to everyone but himself, Rev. Jack and Unity Church of Hawai’i raised over $75,000 in just 36 minutes, and the Facilities/Renovation Team excitedly planned for Administrative Office improvements and treatment for ground termites around the Sanctuary and the grounds, replacement of termite-eaten wooden pews – after obtaining approval from the congregation – with functional upholstered chairs, and giving the Sanctuary a new coat of paint, both inside and out, and planned for repairs to the cottage roof. Before his departure in August of 2016, Rev Jack and his Finance Team had begun to renovate the church financials, as well, slowly but surely moving its bottom line, which had been in the red, into the black.
Reverend Alber Wingate filled the position of Transitional Minister from August 9 to August 29, 2016, and immediately set about uplifting the consciousness of the church by providing a workshop to the congregation called, “Honoring Our Past, Creating Our Future.” HOPCOF helped to identify unresolved issues and from there, solutions were proposed and a plan of implementation was formed. REv. Albert and Rev. Toni Boehm, who followed after, both assisted the Board of Trustees in beginning the search for the “right and perfect Senior Minister for Unity Church of Hawai’i.”
From a large selection of highly qualified applicants, the Search Team recommended three candidates to the Board of Trustees, and from these three ministers, Reverend Timothy Lytle was called to be the new Senior Minister for Unity Church of Hawai’i and he accepted the Call on April 11, 2017. It was very important to Rev. Tim and his wife, Olga Lucia, to celebrate Easter Sunday with their new church Ohana and on April 16, 2017 – after the faster relocation they’ve ever experienced – Rev Tim delivered his first Easter message, “Just When You Thought a Comeback Was Impossible!”
Reverend Tim served at Unity Church until ?????? when he was called back to the mainland.
++++++++++Fill this section with Minister updates from Tim to current++++++++++++++
Since its founding, Unity Church of Hawai’i has launched many programs to spread its message of Unity and Diving Oneness. Among these was “The Open Table”, a group dedicated to honoring diversity in religions; the Unity Pacific Center for Oneness (UPCO), a group that coordinated the many workshops, classes, self-development activities, and meeting proposals the church received; H.U.L.A. (Hawai’i Unity Leaders Alliance) was a sub-region of the West Entral REgion of the Association of Unity Churches; and a leadership discussion/ support group called “Endeavor.”
Outreach programs have included: The Ho’opono Project (outreach to Waikiki homeless, including lunch every Monday); Lokomaika’i Project (outreach to Gregory House HIV/AIDS patients, including meals provided on Wednesdays); Friendly Hearts Project (outreach to Senior Citizens that includes fellowship, a reading of the Daily Word, singing and dancing); the Annual Pet Blessing, inspired St. Francis of Assisi; the Makana Giving Program (an outreach effort of Unity Hawai’i in giving a percentage of its annual income to the support of worthy projects and organizations in the community surrounding the Church, and extending to the state of Hawai’i, the United States, and the World.)
Over the years, various community groups have met at Unity Church of Hawai’i or were organized by the Church, including AA and Alanon; Toastmasters: Thai Chi; Yoga; Singles Club; Hiking Groups; A Course in Miracles Study Group; Bereavement Support Group; Sant Mat Meditation; Unity Businesses in Diamond Head (UBID), 4T Prosperity Group, and many book study groups.
The Chruch Campus includes ” one of the top preschools in the state,” Unity School (for Children ages 18 months through 5 years), the Unity Healing Arts Center, the Wellness Center, and Deja vu: Fashion & Arts Boutique, and has provided gatherings for fellowship and spiritual growth including Ohana Movie Night, Open Mic Night, The Friday Night ‘Experience’, Firs Friday Potluck Fellowship, Festival of Palms & Marketplace, Holiday Marketplace, Unity All Believers Interfaith Ministry (UABIM), Conversations that Matter, Unity Gospel Choir, Unity Workshop with Hula, Unity School Keiki Church, Clubhouse Kids, Youth of Unity, Uniteens, Next Generation Unity, Wednesday Night Prayer Meditation & HEaling Service, and Unity World Day of Prayer.
Unity Church of Hawai’i has supported a school in Malawi, Africa, and established Sister City Unity Church relationships with churches in the state of Washington, and also in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Phillippines and Nigeria, Africa. Moving into the 21st century, Unity Church of Hawai’i has live-streamed Spiritual Education and Enrichment (SEE) courses via the Internet to Australia, New Zealand, and California. New Members Classes are live-streamed, worldwide, and membership at Unity Church of Hawai’i is now available to anyone in the world. Sunday Services are also live-streamed and Sunday Messages are available for viewing on the church website in addition to the New Thought Channel and Youtube which are also on the web.
Music has been an important part of worship at Unity Chruch of Hawai’i and we owe an abundance of appreciation to all of the Music Directors who have worked so hard and blessed us all with their talents, including Dan Dirkson, Thad Hegerberg, Dan Del Negro, and currently Alethea Train. Under their direction, Unity Chruch of Hawai’i Ohana and Beloved Malihini have enjoyed inspiring Sunday Worship music and performances by talented Guest Soloists and Musicians.
Many Phenomenal and magical concerts were prepared for Christmas and Candlelight Services; the “Celebration of Music” Pew Fundraiser; also our 78th Anniversary Events “An Evening of Elegance and Honor” to benefit HUGS, as well as other special events. Everyone has looked forward to music-enhance Easter Sunday Services, including two Easter Sundays a the Waikiki Shell in 2009 and 2010, a Christmas musical with lyrics written by Rev. David McClure called, “The Most Important Things”, and other Chrismas Programs at the Diamond Head Theatre.
Over the years, we’ve been blessed to experience extraordinary and memorable services because of the many talents and the generosity of spirit or our Volunteers and the many hearts that participate in each service, including Guest Soloists, Hula Dancers, Musicians, Zamar Vocalists, Church Choir Volunteers, Kitchen Chefs and Crew, Ushers, Prayer Chaplains, Audio Visual Technicians, Office Angels, Administration Volunteers, Healing Arts Center and Wellness Center Professionals, Volunteer Groundskeepers, Bookstore, and Boutique Volunteers, and Hard-Working and Dedicated Board of Trustees, Staff & Ministers. We are the Chruch that Spirit has built.
Hau’oli la Piha Makahiki – Unity Chuch of Hawaii