A History of Unity Spiritual Life Center of Oklahoma City
Our story starts out in 1943. Unity Center of Oklahoma City had been Daily Word study group through out the 1930’s. 1943 the group, asked Rev. Alice Miles, to be their minister. Rev. Miles was the daughter of Mary Miles, the founder of the Unity Church in San Antonio, Texas. On June 7th, she arrived with a suitcase, the clothes they were wearing, a lot of faith and a dream of a thriving Unity ministry here in Oklahoma City. There were three people in attendance on that day. Services and classes were first held at the “Y” on California Street,
When World War II ended Schuyler Cronley returned to Tinker Air Base. Schuyler married his love, Rev. Alice Miles, in 1946. Schuyler also became an ordained Unity minister. Schuyler and Alice were a dynamic team. A short time later the group moved to the Midwest Theater near 10th and Walker. They obtained quarters on the upper floor of the Mid-West Building, above the Mid-West Theater. An elevator transported the followers from the street to the chapel. They had a successful radio and TV ministry. Schuyler wrote a number of articles that were published in Unity Magazine. He also wrote several Unity pamphlets and published a book called, “Notes of a Skylark,” which was filled with poetry and unique insights of his spiritual journey. Attendance of Unity Center of Oklahoma City grew to 160. In 1948, Charles Fillmore spoke at the Hall of Mirrors in Oklahoma City. The attendance for the event was 3000.
A Sunday School emerged with Schuyler teaching the adult class and Daisy Plumb and Violet Kensel teaching the children. Lavonne Smith’s son, Glenn Solomon, attended that Sunday School class. He was christened and baptized by Alice. Another room was opened and added to the chapel. The City's cosmetic program took over and a move was the result. The new location was 1116 Classen Drive near the St. Anthony Hospital complex.
In 1955 the Youth of Unity (Y.O.U.) attended their first retreat.
Unexpectedly in 1961, Schuyler made his transition, leaving Alice as the sole minister and manager of the Center. She continued her teaching and Sunday service, but her heart seemed to fall out of her work.
In the 1980’s a small group of about a dozen members attended services at this time. Center of Oklahoma City purchased used pews from the Church of Christ. There were classes on Wednesday nights. The classes were basic Unity, topics that Alice could teach from memory; she was suffering from Macular Degeneration and could not see. Rev. Alice Cronley transitioned in 1992. She had served Unity Center of Oklahoma City for nearly 49 years. At the time of her passing the attendance was around six. No one was ready to take over. No one had been trained to follow Alice. Her transition was difficult for the remaining members. However, the Alice frugal left a substantial estate left to the ministry, empowering the membership to purchase the property at our current location. The first Board of Trustees was formed during this time, which involved nearly every member at the time.
In 1992, Rev. Colleen Moore joined the church as minister. Rev. Moore had been trying to start her own Church in Oklahoma City, but accepted appointment to Unity Center of Oklahoma City. Rev. Moore had a background as A Course in Miracles instructor. This was a radical change from the Fundamental’s of Fillmore approach of Alice Cronley. However, attendance went up and on some Sunday’s there were 70 people in attendance. Conflict arose in a number of areas, until it was decided that Colleen and Unity Church of Practical Christianity should part ways.
From 1997 - 2000 the church had either guest Speakers or interim leadership for Sunday services. This period of history was full of tension. Rev. Patrick McAndrew was a guest speaker during this time. Attendance fluctuated from 35 to 60, depending on who the guest speaker was. Rev. Barbara Jung came to Oklahoma City in 1989. Barbara was a skilled speaker and did a lot of healing work.
Rev. Patrick McAndrew became the minister in July of 2000. It was not an easy start. Many members did not want change, so they left. Others came in. The first two years were all about healing. The list of accomplishments and changes during Rev. Patrick’s tenure is long: Bookstore, weekly potlucks and fellowship, Prayer Chaplains program, weekly Unity classes,Wellness Team, Labyrinth, house next door, kitchen remodel, board training. Before Covid, the buildings are used to capacity on a weekly basis. Patrick began offering Spiritual Education and Enrichment (SEE) courses. The first congregant ever to graduate from the SEE program was Sue LaRue in 2009.
Unity Spiritual Life Center of Oklahoma City was chosen as one of thirteen centers to pilot the Transformation Experience of Thriving in Unity. The three year journey has only just begun. A new, powerful vision and mission have been created. Unity Spiritual Life Center leadership is participating actively in the Enlightened Leaders program. Congregants have had the opportunity to participate in Conscious Conversations. Unity Spiritual Life Center is ready and open to the unlimited possibilities of Spirit! And so it is.
In 1999, Unity Church of Practical Christianity purchased, Harmony House, from the Putnam City Baptist Church, which was moving to 122nd and Rockwell. It expected our property by about 1/3, however, the property was very warn down, and the sandlot volleyball sand lot behind the house was full of weeds.
In 2003, the Center paid the note off on Harmony House off, after 3 very successful yard sales.
In 2005, A fence was installed on the Harmony House lot, our 7 circuit Celtic-Crete Labyrinth was finished, and small garden were placed in each of it’s corner. It had been built in the sandlot that had been previously used as volleyball court replacing the eye sore sand lot behind. Also the renovation on Harmony House were completed, new carpet and tile were installed all the walls inside and out were painted.
2008 the stain glass window was installed at the back of the sanctuary platform. Also cabinets were added to the fellowship hall, a gift from a loving member. 2009 the kitchen was renovated and the children program was moved back to Harmony House. In 2019 the sanctuary was transformed into the Living Room for the soul and is a sanctuary dedicated to the Tree of Life. Covid had some interested effects on membership, but now we are ready leap forward with mighty faith to do what is ours to do.