Ever since the Association of Unity Churches, now doing business as Unity Worldwide Ministries, was formed in the mid-1960s to serve the needs of ministers and churches throughout the movement, one of its goals was to provide opportunities for members to gather face-to-face to enjoy fellowship and exchange ideas. Traditionally this has happened twice a year with a summer meeting and a winter meeting.
Summer Meeting => Annual People’s Convention
The summer meeting has been designed around the required annual business meeting and, in its original form, it was held at or near Unity Village and was primarily for the benefit of ordained Unity ministers. As time went on the convention sought to expand the participation by adding more and varied workshops and speakers and the event morphed into the Unity People’s Convention, encouraging licensed teachers and lay people to take an active role.
Because a trip to Lee’s Summit, Mo., is an expensive undertaking for people in distant locations, it was decided that every other year the People’s Convention would be held in another part of the country to allow more people to experience it. The Unity People’s Convention has been held in many US cities, and three times it has taken place on a cruise ship. It is a great opportunity for Unity followers to be part of the greater Unity Movement. This year (2018) the Unity People’s Convention will be held in Olathe, Kansas, at the Embassy Suites Conference Center, June 11-15.
Winter Meeting => Annual Summit
In the beginning, the Winter Meetings were held at Unity Village and were the one time a year that the various Unity Ministry Teams [http://www.unityworldwideministries.org/ministry-teams] gathered to meet face-to-face. At first these were strictly business gatherings although they certainly had a social aspect and were a good opportunity for Unity leadership to connect with one another. Over time some group workshops and long-range planning activities were added. In recent years the Winter meetings have become what is now called the Annual Summit.
This change has come about for several reasons. Technology has reduced the need for face-to-face meetings. The Board of Trustees and Unity leadership found that the opportunity to get input from the field about our future direction was invaluable and wanted more of it. It was felt that this could be better accomplished by moving the meetings out to different parts of the country. Kansas City in January is not always a welcoming place to be weather-wise.
There are still two teams—the Board of Trustees, and the Standards Team—which meet at the Annual Summit, but the main focus of the event is to gather for inspiration, information idea sharing, and connection. The Board of Trustees and leadership will update participants about what is happening in Unity, and there will be opportunity for information sharing and dialog to determine where we go from here. There is also a bus tour of local Unity spiritual centers. The Annual Summit is free. This year (2018) it is being hosted by Unity Renaissance of Chesapeake in Chesapeake, Virginia, on February 5-9.
The Annual Summit is open to all who wish to attend. Because the Annual Summit is held in a different area of the country each year, in 2017 the Board of Trustees decided that the convention will now always be in the general area of Unity Village.
Many Unity followers are content to just participate in the activities of their local spiritual center, but for those who would like to have a role in the wider Unity movement, the Unity People’s Convention and Annual Summit provide a great opportunity for getting involved.