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Byline: Holly J. Andres Staff Writer

WOODLAND HILLS - Since its first worship service on Sept. 11 this year, the congregation of Unity Community Church has been on a quest to find potential members who identify as being more spiritual than religious.

``Unity appeals to people who have an inquiring mind; they're seekers who want to make a positive impact on their community,'' said the Rev. Marleen Davis, who was called to be the interim pastor by the founding members at the Woodland Hills church.

``They're educated people, often in the healing or alternative arts, who may have gone on many paths to find unity. They believe in the oneness of all humanity. It is the religion of today.''

Steve Keener had given up hope of finding a church like Unity where there is an absence of dogma and religious buzz words.

``I like the inclusiveness of it,'' said Keener. ``It was a big relief to be able to continue to study the Bhagavada Gita, for example, and yet it was familiar because it is Christianity-based. There are a lot of practical applications in Unity. It doesn't do me any good to have a Sunday message unless I can apply it during the week.''

The founders of UCC, many of whom were members at the now defunct West Valley Unity Church of Reseda, are eager to share the ``practical Christianity'' teachings of Unity with the west San Fernando Valley community.

An example of ``practical Christianity'' was offered by Davis last Sunday. In her ``Seeking God'' message, Davis said that there are lots of little choices to do good and to see the good in people every day.

``In your work, do you go the second mile to help, encourage or support someone when it might not affect or benefit you? Do you give more than is asked of you?'' said Davis. ``Or another example, do you act one way and then get in your car and act another way? You can choose to be thoughtful and caring. In the little ways you choose to act, you create little ripples of caring that affect everyone. This is how you are serving God.''

Malayna Weeratunga, whose father was a Muslim from Sri Lanka, grew up attending West Valley Unity Church. She said she is excited to be a part of the new, diverse group looking to tune into spiritual truths.

``Being a part of Unity to me is, 'OK, I am one with everybody.' Unity - the name says it all - we're all one,'' said Weeratunga. ``Unity is open- minded. It accepts all faiths and religions. People don't have to give up their religion. They can add Unity to their life.''

A typical service at Unity Community Church includes a meditation, prayer, singing, the message and contemporary music presented by Jackie Riggs, Keener's wife.

``The positive outlook on life is what I like about Unity,'' said Stacy Macris, who has been a Unity church member all her life. ``Unity is a Christian-based religion, but it looks at how we're all connected and how to find the good in others.

``It's about taking responsibility as a human being. You're in charge of your life, and it can be a good life.''

The Unity movement was originally founded as a prayer ministry by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore in 1889 in Kansas City, Mo. Unity Church is, said Davis, considered to be the first truly American religion. Unity is also well-known for its monthly publication of inspirational messages, ``The Daily Word.''

``Unity is life-affirming,'' Davis said. ``Our foundation is that God is good, and that we are made in and after that goodness.''

``Count Your Blessings'' will be the message delivered by the Rev. Marleen Davis at the 10 a.m. Sunday service at Unity Community Church, meeting in Harter Hall at Woodland Hills Community Church, 21338 Dumetz Road. Call (818) 891-1131. Unity Community Church is a member of the Association of Unity Churches. See

Holly Andres, (818) 713-3708





The Rev. Marleen Davis, center, joins with Unity Community Church members Malayna Weeratunga, left, and Stacy Macris Ros, with Graham Ros, 1, and Julian Ros, 5, outside the chapel in Woodland Hills.

Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 19, 2005
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