Then one day, when Unity was hosting one of its many guest speakers—Michael Mirdad—for the Sunday services, it became apparent to several of the Board Members and attendees that by the energy and success that was palpable in the services, he was the one who could take Unity of Sedona to the next level. There were two huge problems, however. The first was that Michael was already an internationally known speaker and was already booked for teaching-tours for the next year. The second problem was that by this time in Unity of Sedona’s history, the Members and attendees had become divided between “traditional” and “progressive” people, which meant the choice of a new minister would not come easy. If they were going to have a traditional church, they would then need a traditional, ordained Unity minister. But if they were going to be a progressive church, they could then invite a non-Unity, but suitable, spiritual leader. So the Board at Unity decided to have a vote of its Members to see which direction (traditional or progressive) they would like to go. The vote ended with over 90% voting for a progressive approach for the future of Unity of Sedona. Therefore, once Michael was able to alter his touring schedule, he was selected as the new Spiritual Leader by the Unity Board of Trustees and by an overwhelming majority of the Members and attendees.
The small majority of people who preferred the traditional approach, and/or were resistant to the coming changes, began causing quite a stir and ended up departing from Unity of Sedona and becoming part of another Unity in the region. But hiring Michael Mirdad as the new Spiritual Leader [for a minimum of a few years] immediately resulted in the attendance in Sunday services rising from 50 people to over 250 people. The number of committed “Members” also grew within one year from 30 members to 150 and the mailing list grew from 100 people to 2000 people.
The benefits and transformations that came as a result of having Michael Mirdad as the new Spiritual Leader are numerous enough to fill a small book. What’s even more astounding is that the majority of the changes all took place within the first several months of his being at Unity. He attributes this success to what he calls, “Living Mastery,” which means shifting from “talking the talk” of spirituality to “living it” in mind, body, and soul.
To begin with, Michael transformed the sanctuary from an old, rustic room into a bright sanctuary. He then upgraded the Café and Chapel, as well as the entire grounds and did so by accumulating extra donations specifically for this purpose. He also transformed a large cluttered office space into a beautiful and successful bookstore. The outside renovations included a new parking lot and the addition of many statues, plants, and flowers, as well as the creation of trails to walk through the property. An entirely new patio was also created as an extension of our Café. Lastly, a beautiful new labyrinth and shaded, grassy picnic area were created.
He then created his own customized Chaplain Program and graduated over 100 Chaplains, which is a larger number of Chaplains than any other Unity church in the world. He created jobs and volunteer positions for several of our attendees and personally refined all of our programs, policies, and procedures—even encouraging the development of a new Children’s Program. One of the most incredible things Michael accomplished in all of this is that nearly everything was done with such a spirit of fun, love, and collaboration. He taught everyone involved to become more empowered, as well as learning to follow the Voice of Love and Self-Worth within—asking everyone to do their best to offer love and support to the ideas and visions of each other. Michael also encouraged the leaders and attendees at Unity of Sedona to participate in several community outreach programs. This resulted in Unity giving an art scholarship to a high school student and donating several thousand dollars to various community programs. Unity also became the primary sponsor and creator of one of Sedona’s largest spiritual events ever: “The Sedona 2012 Festival,” which was a hugely impactful event to herald in the “Now Age.”
All of these external changes, however, paled in comparison to the internal effects of Michael’s presence. People are constantly awestruck by what they “feel” during our Sunday services, as well as during Michael’s ongoing Wednesday night classes on “Advanced Spirituality.” His teachings focus on how to connect more deeply with God on a day-to-day basis, thus allowing the awakening of the Inner Christ. His messages, healings, diversity of topics, and style of working with people are considered to be the highest anyone had ever seen, which created a huge wave of excitement and inspiration throughout Sedona. His level of integrity and love for others has actually caused confusion for some people because they’re not used to seeing such authenticity in spiritual leaders and ministers. The strength of his spiritual principles have proven to be inspiring to some but intimidating to others—especially when he encouraged people to set healthy boundaries when dealing with hurtful people—which is something that had not been practiced enough at Unity. Sadly, however, all of this success also attracted people who attempted once or twice to take over the church—particularly by slandering its leaders—fortunately to no avail. Miraculously, however, challenges such as these only strengthened the courage and spiritual principles of everyone at Unity of Sedona and Michael Mirdad remains the Spiritual Leader.