Below left is an artist rendition of Unity Center of Tulsa's original facility, after the addition of the Sanctuary in 1960. It shows the unusual stained glass tower called the "Tower of Light" on the west side of the building, as well as the original decorative wall. On the right is an image of the Tower taken in April, 2008 by Milton Hardy, looking up the Tower from the ground level.
The Tower was built in 1960, as the sanctuary was being constructed. A gift to Unity Temple by an anonymous donor, it was meant to be a carillon. In 1974 Tulsa stained glass artist, Pepe Mendez, was commissioned to design a "Torch of Truth" to fill the tower. His inspiration was the cover design on the 1968 edition of Elizabeth Sand Turner's popular book, LET THERE BE LIGHT. His finished work was installed in 1975 by the Pepe Mendez Art Glass Company.
Unity Center of Tulsa celebrated its 63th anniversary on May 22, 2008, evidence of the power of faith and early vision of its founder, Rev. Grace Kehrer and its members. It was in 1945 that Unity Center of Tulsa was incorporated in the State of Oklahoma. Years before, Rev. Kehrer had hosted Unity study groups in her home. When Rev. Kehrer's prayer group became too large for her home they rented a store-front on S. Boston that later became the home of Ike's Chili Parlor. The group then moved upstairs into the ballroom of the Masonic Temple at 7th and Boston. Their business meetings were held in the Commissioner's Room at City Hall.
The Church Facility
In November, 1953, Rev. Kehrer and members held a groundbreaking for their new home at 1830 S. Boston Avenue. At the ceremony, members decided, "I believe that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
The Center first consisted of the room often called the "friendship room" and adjoining offices. The 246-seat sanctuary and lobby were added in 1960. No major structural changes have been made to the property since, except for the addition of the Dorothy Maffett Meditation Garden in 1992.
Spiritual Leaders of Unity Center of Tulsa
Unity Center's founder, Grace Kehrer, received the call to the ministry in 1930 and enrolled at the Unity School of Christianity, Lee's Summit, Missouri in 1933. In the same year, Grace began holding Unity Faith study classes in her home. After completing her class work, Rev. Kehrer was ordained as a minister in 1938. According to the earliest minutes that have been preserved, "Unity Center of Tulsa business meeting was held in the Commissioners' Room of the City Hall with Rev. Kehrer the leader." Rev. Kehrer pioneered the Unity Movement in Tulsa. Under Rev. Kehrer's leadership, Unity Center (later named Unity Temple) was constructed in two stages and incorporated as a church on May 22, 1945. Grace resigned as the full-time minister on December 6, 1956 to become the Associate Minister. Rev. Kehrer made her transition on June 28, 1972, having lived 86 years.
Since the passing of Rev. Grace Kehrer in 1972, Charlotte Lucas has been considered the matriarch of Unity Center of Tulsa. Her steadfast faith, prayer, and devotion and tenacity was the glue that kept Unity Center together during some trying times.
When Rev. Kehrer retired from active ministry in 1956, she was succeeded by the associate minister, Rev. Norman B. Godfrey. It was during his ministry that the second stage of the church, the sanctuary and the lobby was competed. The new entrance on
S. Baltimore (as shown in the sketch) faced Boulder Park and was visible across the park from the 21st Street bridge, which was a main artery into downtown from the west.
Rev. Godfrey retired in 1977. Mr. John Clark, a member of the church, graciously consented to temporarily fill the position until a new minister was chosen. He held that position until 1989, 12 years.
Rev. Helen Callaway became the minister in 1989 and remained until August, 1998, having served 9 years. Rev. Dian & Ed Williams became co-ministers in August, 1999, serving until April, 2003, when they resigned to become the associate ministers of Unity Church of Christianity in Houston.
Barry Vennard came as our Interim minister in June, 2003 and remained until January, 2004. Rev. Ann Marie Beale became our full-time minister in June 2004 and left in February, 2014 for health reasons. Rev. Joy Walker was our minister from May 2014 until early 2015.
Our current senior minister is Rev. Dr. Rick Belous and he has been with us since July 2016.