Sunday, January 8, 2012

Unity of Vancouver

I finally made it to Unity Church.  It's located at 5840 Oak Street Vancouver BC V6M 2V9.  I first heard of it from Dr. Bernie Klassen. He said he had attended Unity and spoke fondly of his experience. Bernie took me to my first 12 step meeting nearly 15 years ago.  Once when I was feeling very down I called Bernie and he invited me to his home. There he just took out his banjo and played and sang "How Great Thou Art. " It was exactly what I needed to get me over that seemingly insurmoutable hurdle over a decade back now.
I was encouraged to read "Sermon on the Mount" by Emmett Fox because this was one of the books that the first 50 members of AA had read before the Big Book of Alcoholics was even written. It was in that time that the miracle of Akron occurred.  Later the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous would be the cornerstone of what went on to be the 12 step movements in general.  As a researcher I 'd taken a greater interest in the origins and seeds of this movement reading Rev. Frank Buckman's writings in the Oxford Movement, and Moral Rearmament, Rev. Sam Shoemaker, the Episcopalian, Father Fred Dowling the Catholic mentor of Bill Wilson and such.  Dr. Bob and his wife recommended daily Bible readings and the early 12 steppers were so fond of the book of James, the James Club was one of the names considered for the group.  Emmett Fox's, Sermon on the Mount and The Golden Key were recommended readings then in the 'fellowship' and are still today though not 'approved' literature of the AA Corporation.  In fairness the Board of Directors of the 12 step programs  they have kept their focus narrowly on the illness addressed by each individual organization.
The Christian view of the individual is that of one who is 'broken in spirit' or a sinner, ie 'off the mark. In contrast to the 12 step movements the Christian message is more generic. In many ways the word 'addict' means 'idolater.'  CS Lewis, the great Christian philosopher would say "why look in the wall for the Architect'. Yet that's exactly what the addict does, literally worshipping something of the material world. To the Christian this material world is illusory, the permanent world being spiritual
Unity Church of Vancouver is a lovely facility. The chairs are cushioned and the whole atmosphere is conducive to reflection.   The music was provided by piano and the piano player was truly accomplished  singing solos with a bit of a jazz bent.  Rev. Glenn and Martha Mosley opened the service sitting together at the front before we all rose to sing songs of celebration.
Years back I had spoken to the previous ministerial team a couple of times on the phone  and knew they'd be sadly missed.  Glenn and Martha have now arrived and those I know, like Fred, who attends Unity religiously, speak highly of their leadership..  I enjoyed listening to the audio tapes of the former pastor as they were so uplifting and inspirational .  Glenn and Martha have that same calm and confidence.  Martha lead us all in the opening prayer:
"There is only One Prescence and One Power active as my life and as the universe, God the Good, Omnipotent."
After we all sang The Lord's Prayer, Martha lead us in meditation focussing our attention of  love and the healing heart.
Glen's "sermon' which was  called a 'sharing of ideas' at Unity  was an interesting discourse on humanity and spirituality spiced with anecdotes fro m his long experience in ministry.
Before I knew it the service was over which was surprising because I confess I'm a squirmer if church goes too long.  There were refreshments but I could not stay as like Frost I had 'many miles to go' today.
I know so many people from 12 step programs who have found that Unity Church ran so closely parallel to the spirituality people find in Recovery.  It's not surprising given the overlapping roots of inspiration these organizations share.  As well, from what I know, Unity puts more emphasis on the mystical and spiritual than some of the more mainstream churches that have focussed more on community and prayer for instance.  The Catholic Church as an example has great focus and depth of spirituality with the teachings of St. John of the Cross and Thomas Merton but this emphasis is more likely to be found in the monasteries than in urban cathedral.
I look forward to returning to Unity.

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