Unity Community Church in Dunedin, Florida is celebrating our 25th Anniversary on Sunday, December 1, 2019, with a catered luncheon, gifts for all, a rededication, and joyful remembrances.
It all started as a home study group in 1992, when seven Unity students met once a month in rotating homes for a meal and Bible study. Eventually, other Unity people heard about our tiny group and asked to join us.
“Out of the blue,” one of the seven founders said, “Why don’t we start our own Unity church?” After contact was made with the Association of Unity Churches, we began meeting once a week in a very small office space in Dunedin. It was a joyous occasion, in 1993, when we received the letter from the Association of Unity Churches elevating us from a Study Group and designating us as a pioneering ministry of the Association. We called our first membership meeting, approved our initial by-laws, got our state tax exemption and elected our first Board of Directors that same year.
Soon it became obvious that we needed a larger space and the search was on. Mr. Herman Dorminey owned a building at 1315 Bayshore Boulevard. We signed a lease to rent half of it in 1993 and had a Grand Opening Celebration. Articles of Incorporation were filed in 1994.
In 1998, Mr. Dorminey offered to sell us the building for $140,000. He was very generous in his offer and told us to set the terms and down payment according to our means. In the short time span from 1992 (when the seven founders started getting together) until 1998, we had saved $50,000 in our “Spiritual Home Fund.” So we made a $40,000 down payment and signed a 12-year mortgage contract. Since half of the building was rented to a Hair Salon, we set monthly payments high, thinking we could depend on the rent to help with the mortgage. But then a strange thing happened. As soon as the ink was dry on the sales contract, the hair salon terminated their lease. This was for our good, though we didn’t know it at the time. The Holy Spirit knew we needed all the space in the building. In today’s market, $987 per month doesn’t sound like a large amount, but it challenged our small group to practice good stewardship. If we didn’t have the money up front, we “made do” with what we had and our wonderful volunteers did the rest. It seems like a miracle now, but we were able to pay off the mortgage 2-1/2 years early and had another big celebration in 2008.
The Unity Community “pioneers” were very generous with their tithes and offerings. Our leaders have always been careful in stewardship, paying bills on time, never going into debt beyond the mortgage, never being in the “red.”
Over the years, we were able to remodel, renovate, and redecorate inside and outside the building.
Membership numbers have remained steady over the years with about 70 registered members and 40 or so attending service on Sundays. We offer classes, special ceremonies, meditation, regular outstanding guest speakers and presenters, Pilgrimage Energy Healings, Prayer Chaplains, and most recently, a Circle of Eight Prayer group. We also host A Course in Miracles, the Dunedin Toastmasters Club, and a Twelve Step Group.
One of our proudest moments was when we were approved for Full Church Status by Unity Worldwide Ministries in 2015.
Licensed Unity Teachers Dot Hill and Joyce Pennylegion served as spiritual leaders during the early lean years. They have since made their transitions and are remembered with love and gratitude. Licensed Unity Teacher Elsie Huebner, one of the founders, was graduated from the (then) Unity School of Christianity on November 12, 1996 and was installed as a Licensed Unity Teacher on January 16, 1997. She has been the Spiritual Leader of Unity Community Church for the past 19 years.
Fred Huebner, one of the founders and the first President of the Board, made his transition in 2001. He wrote this vision for our church in the early days, after we purchased our building:
“Right here and right now I see a different kind of church from the traditional, different because we recognize the importance and value of each and every person who attends here. I see a place to worship that is full of peace, health, joy, and love. I feel the presence of God all around, ever watchful, protecting one and all from error.
“We came together to seek and share the transforming universal principles of truth, as taught and demonstrated by Jesus Christ. As we study and learn, I see each one of us raising our spiritual consciousness, and being the best person we can be.
“I see us as a spiritual family enjoying our spiritual home together…. where we can give love and receive love… where we lift each other up… where we encourage and help one another… as a peaceful place where we can be ourselves without being concerned that we’ll be criticized for ideas expressed… and where we can practice the teachings of our Wayshower, the blessed Jesus Christ… to love God with our whole heart and soul… and to love each other as ourselves.
“As I look away from this place I see the pale blue sky of day, and the deep blue of the sea; and I know Divine Spirit has many things yet for Unity Community to do. I know that we are all one, and are illumined by the Presence of God! Thank you, Father- Mother, God!”
— Elsie Huebner, Spiritual Leader