First of all, I’m so blessed to have been called to serve as your Senior Minister here at Unity of Oak Park! We are embarking upon a new chapter of ministry, united in Spirit and with the indwelling Christ as our guide. I’m truly excited to get to know you better as individuals and as a community of faith, and to find ways of growing spiritually together.

In keeping with the Fillmorean tradition of associating each month of the year with one of the Twelve Powers at the core of our being, this month we focus on Understanding. The spiritual power of Understanding is our inner ability to know, perceive, and comprehend.

Understanding is significant for spiritual development because it’s the faculty that serves as a foundation for our life of faith, and gives our prayer, meditation, and spiritual practices a basis on which to stand. Blind, unthinking faith, an uncritical faith not grounded in spiritual truths isn’t as dependable as faith based in understanding. Spiritual evolution requires that we actively cultivate a faith which asks critical questions about our world and ourselves.

In the New Testament, Thomas is the disciple who stands for the faculty of understanding. Thomas represents a steadfast willingness to learn and grow in understanding. He asked important questions, listened to Jesus' answers, and sought to experience spiritual truth firsthand. In the Bible, Thomas shows us how crucial it is to develop our own ability to question, analyze, make deductions, and draw conclusions so that we may awaken to the Christ within and among us.

The awakening of our own faculty of understanding begins with asking questions - - questioning old, outworn ways of thinking or living that aren’t serving us anymore, and opening to new avenues of spiritual transformation.

I’m sure many of you have questions about having a new minister at UOP. Calling a new minister can be both exciting and difficult. Just me being here instead of another person is a lot of change and transition itself. And I know how dearly Richard and Helice have been cherished here. Like any individual, they can’t be replaced. While I honor their amazing long-term leadership and legacy, I am not them. I am a different person, a Unity minister with a different way of leadership and offering new ideas to make Unity relatable and relevant for the 21st century.

Sure, there will be changes that happen under my leadership, as we move through the feelings that come up in this transition, re-discover UOP’s identity, invite new people into our community, and find new ways of being church and doing ministry. This is a good thing.

As we enter this new partnership, I invite us to do so with open minds and open hearts, and with this affirmation: Understanding truth deepens and directs my life and the life of our spiritual community. For we are part and parcel of this ministry together. And I want you to know that I’m committed to walking with you as your Senior Minister as we move forward in spiritual understanding to see what the Spirit of God has in store for UOP!

In the peace of Christ,
Rev. Jesse