Unity Spiritual Center of Lansing
In 1934, Rev.'s Ida and Harvey Best (ordained in 1923) held the first Unity service in downtown Lansing. The center was called the Society of Practical Christianity, Lansing Truth Association and later the Lansing Unity Association. In 1941 the group moved their services, classes and all other activities to the YWCA. In September of 1941, Roxie G. Miller, a licensed Unity teacher since 1938, conducted Sunday Services at the College Manor building, 224 Abbott Road, East Lansing. June 25, 1943, Roxie Miller became ordained by invitation/exception at Unity School of Christianity, Kansas City, Missouri. October 23rd, 1948, the first service of the newly formed East Lansing Unity Center was held at 425 W. Grand River Avenue. The church was dedicated with an open house on December 12, 1948.
November 5th, 1950, Rev.'s Ida (DOD 6/28/1965) and Harvey (DOD 1955) retired and Rev. Nora S. Elliott was appointed the new minister of the Lansing Unity Association. On July 6, 1952, Nora married Gail Hines. She was ordained as a Unity minister in 1937.
In 1952, the Unity congregation incorporated as Lansing Unity Chapel. Their first service was December 8th, 1957 in a bungalow-type building they purchased at 2511 S. Washington Ave.
In September of 1963, Rev. Eleonore E. Kraft was hired following the retirement of Nora Hines (DOD 1/5/65) . In 1966, the Lansing Unity Chapel outgrew their Washington Street property, and sold the building. Services and other activities were held at the Lansing YMCA, 301 W. Lenawee during these years. Also during that time, Rev. Roxie Miller resigned at minister of the East Lansing Unity Center, though she continued with her Wednesday evening classes. Guest speakers conducted Sunday services until Rev. Richard Dale Billings was hired May 29, 1966, 3 weeks after his ordination.
Unity Church of Lansing, a separate Unity church, was also established with the intention of serving the downtown Lansing area. December 16, 1966. a special members' meeting of the two Unity Centers was held and the members agreed to merge into one church. In 1967, under the assistance of Rev. Eleonore Krafft and Rev. Richard Dale Billings, the two groups merged and went through a name change to become Unity of Greater Lansing. Rev. Eleonore Krafft held her last service in Lansing as a candle light service on Sunday and a Wednesday, both at the Lansing YMCA. On December 25, 1966, Eleonore and Richard conducted a joint service at East Lansing on Christmas day, a New Year's Eve service from 9:30 pm - 12:30 pm and a New Year's Day service at 11:00 am.
In 1968, the Unity of Greater Lansing congregation purchased the building at 240 Marshall Street with a parsonage next door at 238. Some few years later, the parsonage (238 Marshall) next door to the south was sold and still later, the 2-story house next door to the north, at 254 Marshall, was purchased. It was used as a Youth Building. In 1982, a group broke off after Associate Minister Amelia Franklin left to take a church in Washington D.C..The group began a ministry known as "Fellowship for Today".
The people at Unity of Greater Lansing increasingly saw the need to provide more modern facilities and be handicap-accessible. More seating was required, as well. They moved into 2001 E. Grand River--to temporarily share space with the Plymouth Congregational community. In November 2013, the congregation moved to a leased location at 15851 S. Old US 27 in north Lansing, in the Crowne Point Business Park, until December 2015. During this time, Rev. Lederer finished his contract with the church and an interim minister, Barry Vennard, was hired.
Meanwhile, in 2004, associate minister Rev. Kate DeMougin left to found another Unity church in Lansing - Unity Spiritual Renaissance. The group rented space from the Metaphysical Church of Christ (formerly the Spiritual Episcopalian Church) at 230 S. Holmes Street. After 6 months, the church and the adjacent property was gifted to Unity Spiritual Renaissance for a token exchange. Lucille Olson accepted the position of music director. This new Unity community became an instrumental part of the Allen Street Neighborhood. Then in 2014, Rev. DeMougin made her transition. The congregation, deeply grieving their loss, worked together to keep the ministry viable.
During 2015, Rev. Vennard worked with Unity of Greater Lansing to help the congregation shift to a "mission-based" ministry as opposed to a "minister-centric" ministry. During this time, Rev. Vennard entered into conversation with Unity Spiritual Renaissance regarding a similar shift in their focus. By the end of 2015, the 2 organizations, through prayerful consideration, had decided to merge into one. The new ministry was named Unity Spiritual Center of Lansing and located at 230 S. Holmes Street. Rev. Vennard completed his work in March of 2016. The newly formed organization hired their first minister July 1st, 2016, Rev. Sharon Ketchum. On December 30th, 2016, 240 Marshall Street and the adjoining house at 254 Marshall Street was sold and the funds were put into the building fund. In 2019, the community contracted with Hip Homes to build an addition to make the church handicap accessible.
September 8th, 2019 Unity Spiritual Center suffered a devasting fire. The fire department was called about 5:45 by an anonymous passerby. 9 fire trucks and 18 fire came to fight the blaze. Through their work, the structure of the sanctuary was saved but the office structure was compromised. The building will need to be entirely gutted and some of it totally rebuilt. While the building is being restored, Unity is holding Sunday services at "The Fledge" at 1300 Eureka St., one block from the Unity building. Offices and weekday meetings, classes and groups will meet at a portable office space loaded into the property at 230 S. Holmes Street. This 60 foot trailer houses two offices and a large meeting room. It also has bathroom facilities.
Ministers and Locations:
History of Unity in the Lansing Area
|Rev. Ida and Rev. Harvey Best (Society of Practical Christianity, Lansing Truth Association, and later Lansing Unity Association, Hotel Olds, Lansing to the YWCA in 1941)||11/25/1934 - 1950|
|Roxie Miller (East Lansing Unity Center, College Manor Building, 224 Abbott Road, East Lansing)||1941 - 65|
|(East Lansing Unity Center, 425 W. Grand River Avenue)||1948|
|Rev. Nora S. Elliott - Hines (Lansing Unity Association, Lansing Unity Chapel)||1947 - 63|
|Lansing Unity Chapel incorporated - moved to 2511 S. Washington Avenue, December 8th, 1957||10/23/1948|
|Transition of Harvey Best||7/5/1955|
|Eleonore E. Krafft following her service in Lansing, she returned to the Jackson Unity Church which she had founded in 1963||1963 - 1/1/1967|
|Transition of Nora (Elliott) Hines||1/5/1965|
|Paul Butler (East Lansing) and Ida Best (Lansing)||1966 - 68|
|Transition of Ida Best||7/28/1965|
Richard Billings (East Lansing Unity Center)
July 1, 1967, he accepted a position at Unity of Oak Park, Illinois where he still serves, co-ministering with Helice Green
|1966 - 67|
MERGER: East Lansing Unity Center & Lansing Unity Chapel became Unity of Greater Lansing
|Paul Butler (Unity of Greater Lansing, moved to 240 Marshall Street, 5/12/ 1968)||1967 - 12/7/1969|
|Ed Hoge (Unity of Greater Lansing, 240 Marshall)||1/2/1970 - 10/1/1975|
|Wes Wallen (Unity of Greater Lansing, 240 Marshall)||9/21/1976 - 9/21/1977|
Lawrence Richard (Dick) Ammons (Unity of Greater Lansing, 240 Marshall)
|1977 - 2004|
|Group splits off to form "Fellowship for Today"||September 1983|
Guy Lynch (Unity of Greater Lansing, 240 Marshall)
|2004 - 06|
Kate DeMougin Unity Spiritual Renaissance (230 Holmes Street)
|2004 - 14|
Kent Lederer (Unity of Greater Lansing, 240 Marshall)
|2006 - 14|
|Transition of Kate DeMougin||2014|
Barry Vennard - Transitional Ministry Specialist Unity of Greater Lansing (15851 Hwy 27)
|2014 - 3/31/2016|
MERGER: Unity of Great Lansing and Unity Spiritual Renaissance became
Unity Spiritual Center of Lansing
Sharon Ketchum Unity Spiritual Center of Lansing (230 Holmes Street)
|2016 - present|
|Amalia Frank Unity of Greater Lansing||1980 to 1982|
Kate DeMougin Unity of Greater Lansing
|1999 to 2004|