After many years of service from Rev. Richard Billings and Rev. Helice Greene, we were blessed to have Rev. Linda Oglesby serve as our temporary minister. As we step into our new cycle of growth, we welcome Rev. Dr. Jesse Tanner, a biblical scholar, a consummate musician, and a warm and friendly presence. Rev. Jesse joined Unity of Oak Park as our new Senior Minister on July 1, 2019.
About Rev. Jesse
Rev. Dr. Jesse Tanner joins Unity of Oak Park as our Senior Minister in July 2019. Jesse holds a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Religion and has previously taught as a professor at the seminary level. He is dedicated to making meaningful spiritual connections between Christianity and contemporary culture. He spends his time reading, writing, teaching, and preaching about God’s love and Christ-following spirituality in today’s world, advocating for justice and equality in world that works for all. Jesse is dedicated to serving others through a ministry of presence, dialogue, and prayer. He’s also a musician who plays upright and electric bass, guitar, mandolin, and many styles of music.
Jesse is an ordained Unity minister and ordained minister of United Church of Christ. Currently he is the senior minister of the historic United Church of Christ located in Byron, IL. The United Church of Christ located in Byron was noted for its involvement in the “underground railroad” for abolitionists movement during slavery in America.
Rev. Tanner's Unity contributions have been:
Unity Institute and Seminary, Unity Village, MO, Professor of Scriptural and Religious Studies, July 2013 - August 2016
• Research, create and teach core and elective courses in the areas of scriptural studies, world religions, and spirituality and society
• Facilitate class discussion
• Assign, evaluate, and grade student assignments
• Partiicipate in inter-disciplinary committees dedicated to reviewing, assessing, and improving educational programs for student, faculty, and institutional success
Unity Institute and Seminary, Unity Village, MO, Instructor, Spiritual Education and Enrichment (SEE), November 2010 - August 2016
Silent Unity, Unity Village, MO, Telephone Prayer Associate, September 2010 - July 2013
Unity Church of Peoria, Peoria, IL, Class Instructor, "Introduction to Inter-religious Dialogue," Prayers and Meditations of the World's Religions," "Engaging the World's Religions," June 2008 - July 2010
Rev. Tanner has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religions, M. Div. from Unity Institute and Seminary, M.T.S in New Testament Theology and wide-ranging experience in:
• Leading spiritual communities
• Cultivating effective leadership
• Public speaking and excellence in verbal and written communication
• Creating and directing dynamic education and spiritual enrichment programs
• Developing communication skills and healthy relationship systems in churches and schools of higher learning
• Promoting diversity and inclusivity in ecclesial and academic settings
Rev. Tanner’s Scholarly Publications include but are not limited to the following:
• "Dialogical Transformation: Exploring Avenues of Interreligious Dialogue as a Practice Promoting Spiritual Growth." Studies in Spirituality Supplement 25, Titus Brandsma Institute. Leuven Peeters, 2016
• “Mysterious Gates and Theophanies: The Hermeneutical-Spiritual Frameworks of Chinul and Gregory of Nyssa." Studies in Spirituality. 24 – 2014
• “Buddhist and Christian Ultimate Transformation: The 'Perfection of Wisdom' and Paul’s Righteoused by Faith.” Studies in Spirituality. 20 – 2014
• "Unity Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue: Potential Contributions of Interfaith Conversation to Unity Spirituality.” Unity Institute Journal Theology - 2009
• “Foundational Documents of the Interfaith Movement,” The Interfaith Observer - October 2011
• “Looking Back to Light our Future,” The Interfaith Observer - October 2011
• University of the West 2008 – 2009
• The Institute of Chinese Buddhist Studies, graduate assistant and coordinator 2007 - 2008
• Assisted Director Huaiyu Chen, Ph.D. with securing scholars to lecture throughout the academic year, coordinating Institute events, and supporting visiting scholars with any scholastic, logistic or other accommodations
Leadership and Academic Affiliations
• American Academy of Religion member, 2007 – present
• Society of Biblical Literature member, 2007 – present
• Prayer, Meditation, and Contemplation (PRAMECO) non-profit organization, secretary, 2008 – present
• Amnesty International: University of the West Chapter, interim president, 2009; secretary, 2007-2008
• Interfaith Alliance: Central Illinois Chapter member, 2009 – 2011
• Interfaith Worker Justice: Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary Chapter member, 2003 - 2005
Centered in Spirit, we co-create a world of love, harmony, peace and abundance.
Unity of Oak Park is a vibrant spiritual community creating a loving world through prayer, meditation, education and service.
Affiliated with Unity Institute and Seminary, Unity Village, MO | Member of The Association of Unity Churches
Please join us for our Sunday Service in the Sanctuary at:
Childcare available for children under 3 in the Nursery (located upstairs)
Youth Education for children and teens 3-18years in the Youth Ed Room (located downstairs)
405 N. Euclid Avenue
Oak Park IL 60302
5 Basic Principles
- God is absolute good, everywhere present.
- Human beings have a spark of divinity within them, the Christ spirit within. Their very essence is of God and therefore they are inherently good.
- Human beings create their experiences by the activity of their thinking. Everything in the manifest realm has its beginning in thought.
- Prayer is creative thinking that heightens the connection with God-Mind and therefore brings forth wisdom, healing, prosperity and everything good.
- Knowing and understanding the laws of life, also called Truth, is not enough. A person must also live the Truth that he knows.
New to Unity?
Unity is a positive, practical, progressive approach to Christianity based on the teachings of Jesus and the power of prayer. Unity honors the universal truths in all religions and respects each individual’s right to choose a spiritual path.
God is Spirit, the loving source of all that is. God is the one power, all good, everywhere present, all wisdom. God is divine energy, continually creating, expressing and sustaining all creation. In God, we live and move and have our being. In Unity, some other ways we speak of God are Life, Light, Love, Substance, Principle, Law and Universal Mind.
We believe that Jesus expressed his divine potential and sought to show humankind how to express ours as well. We see Jesus as a master teacher of universal truths and as our Way Shower. In Unity, we use the term Christ to mean the divinity in humankind. Jesus is the great example of the Christ in expression.
The Nature of Humankind
We are each individual, eternal expressions of God. Our essential nature is divine and therefore inherently good. Our purpose is to express our divine potential as realized and demonstrated by Jesus and other master teachers. The more we awaken to our divine nature, the more fully God expresses in and through our lives.
Unity co-founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore studied the Bible as history and allegory and interpreted it as a metaphysical representation of humankind's evolutionary journey toward spiritual awakening. In addition, Unity recognizes that the Bible is a complex collection of writings compiled over many centuries. We honor the writings as reflecting the understanding and inspiration of the writers at the time they were written. The Bible continues to be a valuable spiritual resource for us.
Unity teaches that each person is a unique expression of God created with sacred worth. Living from that awareness transforms our lives and the world. Unity emphasizes the creative power of thought in our life experience. We refer to this as the Law of Mind Action. When we take personal responsibility to choose life-affirming thoughts, words and actions, we experience a more fulfilling and abundant life. Unity emphasizes the importance of applying spiritual principles in our daily lives. Unity teachings continue to evolve as we identify, embrace and apply spiritual insights and the spiritual implications of new discoveries.
Prayer and Meditation
Affirmative prayer is the highest form of creative thought. It includes the release of counterproductive, negative thoughts, as well as holding in mind statements of spiritual truth. Through meditation, we experience the presence of God. Prayer and meditation heighten our awareness and thereby transform our lives.