By LINDA M. LINONIS
Cay Tomerlin planned a weeklong observance at Unity Centre for Spiritual Living to highlight the 20th anniversary of Unity World Day of Prayer.
The events, from Monday through Friday, also eased the associate minister and licensed Unity teacher into her new role as worship leader while the Rev. Ric Schumacher takes an eight-month sabbatical leave to work on a master’s degree.
She’s not unfamiliar with the pulpit. She has spoken monthly for the last eight years at Unity and monthly at Unity Church Truth in Massillon.
She also has completed hundreds of hours of study to become a Unity teacher. The board of trustees, which also includes licensed Unity teachers, will lend support.
This year’s theme is “Living Well: Nurturing Mind, Body and Spirit.”
The prayer is “My positive thoughts, words and action create a healthy life — mind, body and spirit.”
Monday’s program focused on elemental walks focusing on earth, water, fire and air.
Tuesday featured a prayer session by the Healing Arts Ministry and lecture on “Diet and Spirituality” by Evelyn Wise.
A guided meditation was Wednesday and drum circle on Friday.
Thursday’s prayer day featured a silent meditation from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. ending with a healing circle with Nicole Niewoehner.
Tomerlin said the first Unity day of prayer was an outgrowth of an assignment at Unity School for Religious Studies, now Unity Institute and Seminary, Unity Village, Mo.
A student suggested a day of prayer, which evolved into the observance.
That was in 1993; the day was designated as the second Thursday in September.
Tomerlin said Unity started out as a school; churches evolved later.
The Silent Unity prayer ministry was begun by Myrtle Fillmore, who with her husband, Charles, who founded the Christian-based denomination in the 1880s.
She attended a lecture by Dr. E. Weeks and was inspired by a quote from Weeks — “I am a child of God, and therefore I do not inherit sickness.”
At the time, Fillmore was ill and eventually overcame her sickness through prayer.
Tomerlin said the Unity method is called “affirmative prayer” and is not beseeching.
She continued that the “good we seek is already available and everything we need is provided for us.”
The five-step process of prayer is:
Relaxation: Release physical and mental tension by breathing.
Concentration: Focusing the mind and repeating an affirmation such as the word love.
Meditation: This connects us to silence.
Realization: The inner knowing of the truth that prayers are answered.
Thanksgiving: Being grateful before the answer appears in the manifest realm.
Tomerlin said a passage by St. Paul in Thessalonians 5:17 sums it up — “To pray without ceasing.”
She said she believes “our life is a prayer and to experience the abundant life that Jesus promised us is to live with the awareness of God in every moment with a grateful heart for all that there is,” she said. “I believe that the only wrong way to pray is to forget God is everywhere present in our life.”
“Prayer is a connection to the divine and the higher truth we don’t see in humanity,” she said.
Charles Fillmore described prayer “as the most accelerated mind action known.” He promoted the metaphysical belief that “thoughts held in mind produce after their kind.”
Tomerlin said Unity prayer focuses on “thoughts becoming manifested.” She said we have the power to “change our world and consciousness” through affirmative prayer.
Tomerlin said Unity has “prayer partners” who keep in contact by phone and cards and pray for one another.
The Prayer Shawl Ministry at Unity made prayer pockets that included a slip of paper noting the theme of Unity World Day of Prayer.
During the daylong meditation for World Day of Prayer, Tomerlin said participants viewed a prayer list with 40 slides, each with 20 names, which cycled through repeatedly.