Our Ministry History

Georgiana Tree-West
Georgiana Tree-West

Minister of The Unity Center, 1938 – 1959

Georgiana Tree West, the founder of The Unity Center of Practical Christianity in New York City, was born in London, England and was brought to the United States as a young girl by her parents. Raised in the Episcopal Church, she didn’t find satisfying answers to her questions about religion and spirituality until, at the age of 15, she discovered Christian Science.

Georgiana married Bill West, a mining engineer, and for several years the couple lived in mining camps where she learned to ride, shoot and play poker! Later, after experiencing health and financial difficulties, she turned to spiritual studies.

In 1924, the Wests moved to Louisville, Kentucky where on Easter Sunday, Georgiana felt an uncontrollable urge to go to The Unity Center there. She was soon asked to serve as a hostess and, in no time at all, she was conducting Wednesday morning classes. Within five months she was doing full-time work at The Center, and in 11 months she became its leader and created a thriving ministry. She was ordained as a Unity minister in 1935.

In 1938, she founded The Unity Center of Practical Christianity in New York City. She began holding services at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where her ministry soon began to thrive. Georgiana helped one understand what an awesome universe we live in. She spoke in the language of passion, for she strongly believed the outer was manifestation of an inner consciousness. Her spiritual insight gave her skills bring into full expression the Unity Principles she so deeply believed in and fully lived.

Georgiana Tree West authored many articles and books expressing Unity teachings in a clear and practical way. Her most popular book, Prosperity’s Ten Commandments [1960], is considered a Unity classic.

Minister of The Unity Center, 1959 – 1961

J. Sig Paulson
J. Sig Paulson

In 1959, J. Sig Paulson succeeded Georgiana Tree West as Minister of The Unity Center of New York City. After a successful career in business, he became an ordained Unity Minster. Before coming to New York, he led the Unity Christ Church in St. Louis. After a very successful tenure here at Unity New York, during which time The Center experienced significant growth, Sig Paulson was called to Unity’s International Headquarters and served as director of the Unity Field Department, and later of the Department of World Unity. He also served as the vice-president of the International New Thought Alliance.

Sig Paulson served as minister of Unity Village Chapel for 16 years. In 1978 he became co-minister with his wife, Jane, at Unity’s Golden Pyramid of Light in Houston, Texas. He authored numerous books—among them How to Love Your Neighbor, To Humanity With Love, Your Power to Be, Living With Purpose, and Here’s a Thought. He coauthored, with Evarts G. Loomis, one of the first books on the art of holistic medicine entitled, Healing for Everyone: Medicine of the Whole Person.’ Among the many audio cassette sets he recorded are: “Unity and You,” “A Course in Miracles,” and “Spirit, Physics, and Metaphysics.” He also authored hundreds of articles for newspapers, periodicals, and magazines all over the world.

During his long and fruitful career, he lectured throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, the West Indies, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and Canada.

Eric Butterworth

Minister of The Unity Center, 1961 – 2003

Eric Butterworth was a considered a legend and spiritual icon in the Unity Movement. A gifted lecturer, theologian, philosopher, Eric was a highly respected pioneer and innovator on New Thought who dedicated his life to helping people help themselves. He authored 16 best selling books on metaphysical spirituality.

Eric has been referred to as a “Twentieth Century Emerson.” His teaching was focused on the Divinity of all people and his desire was that everyone should know their Oneness in God. He originated the yearly week-long Spiritual Therapy Workshops that he conducted for over 25 years.

As a pioneer radio broadcaster, he began his daily programs with the greeting: “You can change your life by altering your thoughts.” His was a gentle voice that articulated a powerful message that inspired and healed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for over 50 years.

A scholar and educator, Eric established three powerful Unity Ministries. The first was in Pittsburg. The second was in Detroit, where his teaching resulted in the building of the Detroit Unity Temple… the largest Unity church at that time. The third and final one was in New York City, where he lectured at Carnegie Hall, followed by Town Hall, then Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, where the attendance grew to several thousand. His devotees included people from all walks and stations of life and all religious backgrounds – all of whom believe that his teachings helped change, and even save their lives.

Of Eric’s classic book, Discover the Power Within You [1960],  Oprah Winfrey said, “This book changed my perspective on life and religion.” Maya Angelou said about Eric, “He has been, is now and shall forever be my teacher.”

Minister of The Unity Center, 2004 – 2011

Jim Gaither

Jim Gaither was hired as our new minister in 2004. He brought calm and stability to The Center after the passing of Eric Butterworth. Jim, who was ordained a minister in 1979, holds an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Kansas where he also did doctoral work.

He served as Minister in Collinsville, Illinois for five years before joining the faculty of the Unity Ministerial Program. In his 20 years at Unity Institute of Christianity, he served as Chairperson of Historical Studies and Chairperson of Metaphysical Studies. In 2003, the Association of Unity Churches presented Jim with “The Charles Fillmore Award for Visionary Leadership.” In 2013, he received a Doctorate in Theology. He is currently President and Professor at Holos University Graduate Seminary and Adjunct Professor at Unity Institute.

Since 1981, Jim has penned many articles published in Unity Magazine, and, for over 10 years, he also wrote a regular column in that publication. He also edited and wrote commentary for the book, The Essential Charles Fillmore: Collected Writings of a Missouri Mystic, published by Unity Books. That work is part of the “Charles Fillmore Reference Library.”

Through the years of Jim’s tenure at The Unity Center, he consistently demonstrated the Truth and Principles that makes us Unity. For seven years, Jim was a leader, mentor, friend and perhaps most importantly, an outstanding Unity teacher. He and his loving wife Christine significantly strengthened The Center through their combined talents and dedication. When Jim and Chris decided to move back to their home in Missouri after his resignation, he was honored by the Board of Trustees with the title “Pastor Emeritus.

025-CROPMinister of The Unity Center, from 2011

Justin Epstein became the Senior Minister in November of 2011 and continues to this day. 

Learn more about Justin by clicking here and at his website: www.JustinEpstein.com.