Our History

1970-2020

Unity is a celebration of the universal spirit which connects every living thing, as well as the past with the present. In order to fully comprehend Unity of Sedona, it is important to reach back from here and now and embrace its history. The reflection we see in the mirror today is the result of a lifetime of experiences. Let us step through that looking glass and come to fully know the church, beginning with its founder, Reverend Dale Batesole.

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1970-1977

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…

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1978-1982

Rev. Jack Hamilton took over when Reverend Batesole accepted a ministry at a much larger church in Palm Springs, California.

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1983-1991

Rev. Corrine Hamilton, Jack’s wife, officially became the minister when she and Jack divorced. She later married Leslie Marquette who (although not a Unity minister), also presented some of the Sunday talks. Unfortunately, Corrine developed breast cancer and passed away.

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1991-1994

Rev. Leslie Marquette assumed the duties of Corrine and decided to sever the church’s connection with the Association of Unity Churches (AUC) and changed the name of the church to the “Church of Today” (to emulate a large Unity Church in Warren, Michigan). Leslie appointed a new Board of Trustees and moved into the upstairs room of the second building on the property. By now Sunday attendance was only averaging 35 people, and the church was in serious financial difficulty. Then Leslie told the congregation that he had not been paid a salary in five years, which led him to…

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1994-1996

Rev. Max Lafser came to the rescue of Unity Church of Sedona. He was a former president of AUC and was a very charismatic speaker who rapidly built up the membership with his inspiring talks. Church finances grew healthy enough that the church could pay off the mortgage. Max stayed almost three years and then accepted an offer from a much larger church in Walnut Creek, California.

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1997-1999

Revs. Mark and Helen Pope were hired as co-ministers when Max Lafser departed. Helen had a Science of Mind background and both Mark and Helen were ordained Unity Ministers. Mark was well liked and admired. His talks were thought-provoking, rich with material, and sprinkled with lots of funny stories. He and his wife Helen, spoke alternate Sundays. She was very authentic and “walked the talk.” Helen died suddenly from heart complications. Later, Mark married Shelton Olson, who had worked as Office Administrator for some time. He then divorced and married a third time. Mark Pope was with Unity of Sedona…

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2000-2003

Rev’s. Geoffrey and Anne Marie Davis were hired as new ministers. They had gone to ministerial school together and had served as ministers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Under their leadership the church grew and prospered. They started the “Unity and All That Jazz” program on Wednesday nights and A Course in Miracles class on Thursday evenings, which helped the Membership to continue to grow. They held several 4-T classes and Ann Marie had several book study classes. The attendance on Sunday’s grew to the level that the sanctuary was filled beyond capacity. Geoffrey and Ann Marie realized that the church…

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2003-2005

Rev. Marylou Palmer was hired as the “Interim Minister” to help create healing and a possible new direction. She was well-liked by most attendees but due to the behaviors she witnessed within the various sets of the Board of Trustees, and knowing a few low points in the history at Unity Church of Sedona, she refused to even consider staying on in a permanent position. Congregants stepped forward in a fuller way, to help keep things going while the church was without a minister.

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2005-2006

Rev. Sandra Keep came in as the next hired minister. Once again, Unity of Sedona learned the hard way to be very present and mindful when selecting a minister. Sandra left after a very tumultuous time as minister and dealing with several issues that could not be resolved.

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2007-2010

Mark Pope returned to Unity Church of Sedona during which time he married and divorced a fourth time — this time to a woman who continued for years to try to play a key role in the direction of the church. This time, while at Unity, Mark initiated one of the many recovery groups that now use the property for their meetings. Once again, however, he decided to leave, announcing that he was tired and wanted to go in a new direction. His sudden departure caused a great deal of upheaval between himself, the Members, and the Board. So Unity…

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2010-2011

After 1-2 years without a minister, it was apparent that Unity of Sedona needed a good, trustworthy leader. So it was decided to again hire a longer-term leader. The process of finding a new leader began and continued far longer than anyone expected—dragging on for well over a year and exhausting everyone involved. The Board and Minister Selection Committee interviewed a record number of applicants (30+) but could not come to an agreement on any one person, which left the process in a stalemate and added even more agitation between the various committees and Board Members. In the meantime, Unity…

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2011-20??

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…

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2020

Unity of Sedona moves to a new location! The process of moving was magical in so many ways—a great confirmation that we are following the Guidance of Spirit. We found a place, put in an offer, and closed the deal within a week. All the legalities (escrow) will conclude in a few weeks, which means we will spend much of August doing some basic inside painting and outside landscaping to create a beautiful place—comparable to our current location. The new building is roughly 50 years newer than the old one, which means a lot less issues with aging. And for those…

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Beyond

As with any other church with over a 45-year history, the background of Unity of Sedona will continue to be rich and diverse. As with any organization, there have been ups and downs but, as the focus remains to be on nurturing the Presence of Christ within us all and holding to the statement, “There is only One True Power in the Universe, God the Good, Omnipotent,” Unity of Sedona will continue to grow and change but is certain to continue to bless and be blessed. And so it is!

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NOTE: The history of Unity of Sedona was mainly written by Marjorie Muro (a long-time attendee and Board Member) but is also a collaboration between several former and current Board Members.* We’ve done our best to note only the essentials and tried to be as accurate as possible. There is less available information on the older dates due to a lack of records. If you know of any vital pieces of history that seem to be missing, please notify our office with your suggested additions.

*Many thanks also to Nonda Kellogg, a member since 1990, who filled in many of the pieces of history.

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