Unity of Wimberley began in 2003 when a small group of individuals committed themselves to bring Unity teachings to the Wimberley Valley. Originally, the group met monthly in a small gathering place on Wimberley Square.
By mid-2003, about 25 people were meeting for Sunday services each week, now in the barn of Holly and Buddy Wilson. Licensed Unity teachers from the area came to speak for each service, and music was usually provided by the Wilsons' teenaged daughter Kelsey, a violin virtuoso.
Finding the Holy Hill
Shortly thereafter, the Wilsons discovered a property that had been on the market for some time. They knew this would be the perfect home for our budding spiritual center. Together with our initial board of trustees, the decision was made to owner-finance the property. Our first Sunday service was held at what was then The Wimberley Lodge in April 2004.
Part of our owner financing agreement was to fulfill all the pre-existing bookings of the lodge. From April through Labor Day, volunteers scurried to meet the needs of overnight guests while preparing for each Sunday's services. The income from these lodgers helped to cover the initial mortgage expenses with balloon payments beginning in the near future.
It was at this time that Mindy Audlin, who had been an occasional guest speaker, submitted an application to become the Spiritual Leader of the congregation. In August 2004, the Board of Trustees voted her into the new position.
The Money Miracle
In December 2004, we were issued a new financing agreement intended to help us grow the center and establish the necessary history to refinance in April 2008. The only requirement was that we put down $40,000 in cash. Thus began our January campaign: $40K in 40 Days!
Our intention was to raise $40,000 from the efforts of our 50-member congregation. With everyone's support and creativity, we raised more than $40,000 in just over 50 days. We thank God for the miracles of prosperity that continue to bless this sacred place!
We have continued to grow and thrive. We added a core staff to support the enormous task of maintaining our facility, and attracted an uplifting and talented music team.
Our amenities are a special blessing to our young people, and we are proud of the youth education program that continues to expand. We are also thrilled to offer special programs to youth and other spiritual groups throughout the region who are looking for a Hill Country getaway for their classes, workshops, and retreats.
Keep on Stretching
When our spiritual leader, Mindy Audlin, expanded her horizons to become the network producer for Unity Online Radio, we began a minister search in late spring of 2007 and hired Rev. Rudy England in August.
With April of 2008 about to roll around, we went to work on refinancing our property. After talking to the banks, who would only finance a portion of what we needed at jumbo interest rates, we got serious about "self financing." Thus was born the Church Family Ownership Program.
In five months, we raised all of our financing capital through cash donations and the sale of promissory notes to ourselves. Our church is now fully and privately financed by us. We continue to express our gratitude for the faith and spirit of this spiritual community as manifested through this amazing effort.
Always seeming to stretch ourselves, in January 2008 we began to co-create the next chapter in the story of Unity of Wimberley through the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Process--the study and exploration of what gives life to human systems when they function at their best. Over 100 of us participated in the process to discover and create the future we wanted for our spiritual community.
The AI Process culminated with Destiny Day on Dec. 14, 2008, when we unveiled the plans of our four design teams and shared in the provocative possibilities of our limitless future.
Meantime, in August 2008, one minister departed and we began to host a spectacular line-up of guest speakers each Sunday, all the while knowing that our right and perfect new minister was making his or her way to us!
The Rev. Ellen Era
With what can only be described as divine order, on April 1, 2009, Rev. Ellen Debenport became the minister at Unity of Wimberley, agreeing to serve on a temporary basis for one year.
But in November 2009, we gathered in our monthly congregational HUG Meeting (Help Unity Grow) and all of those present, with glad acclamation, recommended to the Board of Trustees that Rev. Ellen Debenport be offered the position of permanent minister. The offer was made, Ellen accepted, and we began yet another chapter in the history of our church on the hilltop.
We begin the transition from the Ellen Era to "what's next." The board has hired Unity Worldwide Ministry consultant, Rev. Monica Driscoll. Rev. Monica is a Transitional Ministry Consultant who specializes in helping spiritual communities remain strong and vibrant following the loss of a minister, along with assisting them in the search process for their new permanent minister. The transition ministry period can be up to nine months. Rev. Monica will be with us all the way to help ensure that our thriving community stays the course.
We remain fully committed to the continued vibrancy of Unity Church of Wimberley.
"We walk by faith, not by sight." - 2 Corinthians 5:7