Rev. Dale Batesole was a Unity minister who lived in Scottsdale, Arizona but made frequent trips to Sedona to teach classes about a form of psycho-cybernetics. He loved Sedona and dreamed of establishing a Unity church here. Dale was charismatic, spiritually evolved, and highly motivated, but the central church in Phoenix saw his destiny in Flagstaff. They did not believe that Sedona was large enough to develop a congregation.
So, being a good Unity minister, Dale went where the church headquarters directed him. He rented a space in Flagstaff and announced his arrival to the town. No matter how marvelous his teachings nor how hard he persevered, attendance was poor on Sundays. Most of the congregants were driving up from Sedona. Dale again tried to convince the hierarchy that Sedona wanted, needed and would support a Unity Church. Approval and financial assistance were denied.
Dale decided to use his own money to follow through with the powerful message he was receiving from Spirit. He drove to Sedona and looked for a place to rent for Sunday services. The realtor, Mary Lou Keller, showed him everything available. The facilities were all too small or too expensive. As Dale and Mary Lou sat in her office ruminating on the problem and awaiting the solution, Mary Lou followed an uncontrollable instinct and offered him the use of her office on Sundays free of charge. Through the generosity of Mary Lou Keller and the determination of Dale Batesole, Unity of Sedona was founded in November 1971.
Within three months, the real estate office was filled to capacity, usually fifty or more, every Sunday. The elders from Phoenix Unity came to Sedona to observe that which they said couldn’t be done. They could not deny the reality of the creation and gave Dale the money to rent a building on Hwy89A at the base of Airport Road, which was a venue for only a short period. Sedona residents and visitors continued to flock to see and hear the dynamic Reverend Dale Batesole. So it was inevitable that they find a larger, more permanent building. This was to soon be the very same location we have to this day: on Deer Trail Drive.
The new property was originally built in 1955 by a Professor named Belva Horvath. Belva Horvath came to the United States from Budapest. He was an internationally famous sculptor and painter who said that he agreed with Beethoven’s theory saying, “Every real creation is independent and more powerful than the artist himself and returns to the divine through its manifestation.” He left Budapest in 1943, fleeing the Nazis who had bombed and burned much of his art. He came to America in 1949, became a professor at the University of Dayton in Ohio, and spent part of each year in Sedona, Arizona. He described his perception of Sedona in a newspaper interview in 1969, “The nicest rock formations I have seen in my life. They change in the sunlight to give you fantastic variations of plastic forms. We see in this mountain different figures- Hungarian sheepherders, kings, queens, red rock and green cypress, the colors actually vibrate.”
Professor Horvath and his wife, Josephine, built the structure, which is currently the Unity property, to serve as their private home and art studio from May to December each year. The professor designed the brownstone home with a high-pointed cupola and made some of the furnishings, including a large hand-forged iron chandelier incorporating the twelve signs of the zodiac.
Poor health motivated the Horvaths to move to Florida in his later years and the house was sold to Anne and Harvey Siegmans. They in turn sold it to Unity Church of Sedona in 1972, with Reverend Dale Batesole as the minister.
The first Unity services held at the Deer Trail Drive location were conducted on Sunday, September 30, 1972, at 11:00am. The local newspaper described the change from private residence to church as follows:
“The buildings and grounds are well-suited for church usage. The spacious entrance hall leads into a large rectangular living room that will serve as a sanctuary and which can later be enlarged by structural remodeling of the house. Other rooms are available for Sunday school and other uses. The lot across the street, which is part of the transfer of property, will serve as a parking area. The guesthouse will probably be used as a parsonage at the outset and may later be headquarters for the Sunday school. The congregation which now numbers approximately 100 persons has grown rapidly in less than one year it has been in existence. Sunday school classes for children of all ages are offered. Mrs. Elsie Mc Cray is superintendent. Baritone Bert Ciesian is a church soloist. Mrs. Lois Binford is organist.”