Minister’s Message

Transforming Lives that Transform the World.

Rev. Paula Mekdeci

Message from the Minister

Hello, Friends!

Welcome to Unity Renaissance, where we hold the vision for “A spiritually awakened world, living in peace, love and joy.” Each week I share a brief online message to help us live into our vision, putting into practice the teachings of Jesus and other spiritual masters. If you’d like to join our email list to receive the weekly e-newsletter that includes my blog, please click here. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll explore the many opportunities and activities at Unity Renaissance, a spiritual community dedicated to inclusivity, acceptance, and loving support for each person on their spiritual path. I look forward to welcoming you!


Rev. Paula

A very Special Christmas Eve

Dear Friends,
As unusual as this holiday season has been, it has also brought blessings: Because we are apart, the limited interactions we do have mean even more. Because we miss seeing each other, the faces on Zoom are especially dear. Because we need each other, our personal conversations run deeper.
This year, we have learned how to stay connected even when we are apart. Our amazing audiovisual and livestream team has made it possible to maintain and strengthen our spiritual community online until we can meet again in person. Thank you, Paul Mitcham and team!
With their support, tomorrow night’s Christmas Eve Candle Lighting Service (livestreamed only) promises to be extra special. The service itself will feature several of our Unity Renaissance youth sharing Christmas readings and affirmations. The music team will lead us in Christmas carols (join us from home!). For the grand finale, we will light candles while singing Silent Night as we always do. However, you will be participating from home. Please be sure to watch the Christmas Eve service on Zoom so you can see everyone with their candles lit! Although you will also be able to watch the service on our website or Facebook, you will only be able to see your fellow congregants with their candles lit via Zoom. Here is the link: Alternatively, you may go to and type in the meeting I.D.: 818 2466 2153.
On Christmas morning at 10:30, we’ll be singing Christmas carols outdoors at the Virginia Home for Adults, 2701 Border Rd. in Chesapeake. Bundle up if you’d like to join us!
And don’t forget our Burning Bowl Service this Sunday. Although it’s more of a “Dissolving Bowl” Service this year (see below), it’s still a great time to release and let go as we prepare for a glorious new year.
Thank you for being a treasured part of our Unity Renaissance family. Rev. Richard and I are sending you heartfelt wishes for abundant health, peace, love, and joy, now and always. Merry Christmas!
Rev. Paula
P.S. While Christmas is a time of love and celebration, it can also be a time of hardship. If you are struggling for any reason this holiday season, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support. You may contact me at

"So Many Angels" - December 16, 2020

Dear Friends,

As unusual as this holiday season may be, it is also rife with heartwarming examples of people caring for and supporting one another. I have been brought to tears a few times hearing about congregants who have brought meals to people who are ill or in need; who have provided transportation for those who can’t drive; who have been calling or (safely) visiting people who are isolated; and who have even taken other congregants shopping for groceries or, in one case, new clothes!

I have also had the honor of visiting a Zoom meeting with the Unity Sisterhood, one with the Prayer Chaplains, and an in-person gathering of the Mighty Men of Unity, and have witnessed the tremendous amount of love and support in each group.

Meanwhile, the generosity of people like you in providing gifts and gift cards to help others less fortunate has been deeply moving. There have been some amazing synchronicities this year, as someone has provided a gift card just hours before someone else expressed a need for exactly that kind of help!

In times of darkness, the light within us shines all the more brightly. In so many ways, this is the message of Christmas: That what is within us is bigger and brighter than any challenge before us.

This Sunday I’ll speak more on this theme, with some fresh revelations and experiences of my own about the true meaning of Christmas.

I look forward to another beautiful Sunday with all of you. Thank you for being the angels you are!

Much love,

Rev. Paula

We Are Here For You!


Dear Friends,

The holidays can be wondrous and joyful, but can also bring up feelings of sadness or grief. This year, because we are more isolated and apart than usual, the season may be particularly difficult for many.

At this pivotal time, know that your Unity Renaissance family is here for you. The Board, staff, and volunteers are making extra efforts to be of service. Board members and I are calling hundreds of congregants to check on them; 300 Christmas Care Packages have been distributed; volunteers are supporting individual families in crisis; the Prayer Chaplains and Congregational Care Team are making calls; affinity groups (such as the Unity Sisterhood and Mighty Men of Unity) are meeting to support one another and our community; and gift cards are going out to those in need. We also have a full range of meaningful holiday events and services coming up to bring us together.

I would also like to extend a personal offer to any of you in need. If you would like prayer support, spiritual counseling, or just someone to talk to, I am here. You may reach me at church (757) 420-5280 Tuesday through Thursday or anytime by email ( to set up a time to connect. We can meet via phone, over Zoom, or in person at church (masks and social distancing required). Whether you request a personal appointment or not, know that you are always in my heart and in my prayers.

This holiday season, all of us at Unity Renaissance are sending you abundant love and well wishes. You are a bright, beautiful expression of God, treasured, worthy, and shining brightly! May this be a time when we remember what is most important: The love we share, and each other.

Much love,

Rev. Paula

"The 'Sin' of Separation"

Dear Friends,

In Unity, “sin” means erroneous thinking. It comes from an archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” The most detrimental erroneous thought is that we are separate from each other, and from God. In Truth, we are One. When we remember and experience that Oneness, we feel whole, happy, and at peace.

These days, the Universe is teaching us a lot about the pain of separation. We are all hurting over the deep divisions in our country. Families and friendships are being torn apart by differing beliefs and ideologies. And now we are feeling the pain of separation in a different way: Not being able to hug, hold hands, or in some cases be near other people, as necessary health precautions. (Not hug in Unity?? Unthinkable!)

We are learning in profound ways that when we are divided and separated, it hurts. Our natural instinct (and our human need) is to connect and bond.
At such times, we can remember that the Truth of our Oneness remains untouched and undisturbed. No matter what is happening on the outside, at the deepest and most essential level, we are connected. We are one in the power and presence of God that is our true nature. God is actively expressing in and through each of us, and will see us through any difficulty.

As you go about your day, holding back from handshakes and hugs, I invite you to pause in each encounter to look in the other person’s eyes, feel your innate connection with them, and send them a little love. Like everything else, the challenges of today will pass – and we will emerge more aware, and awake, and united because of them.

Much love,

Rev. Paula

Affirm Your Way Through Change

Dear Friends,
Last Saturday at our workshop on “Finding Yourself in Transition,” the group brainstormed affirmations to help us navigate the three phases of any major change: 1) Endings; 2) The Void (the in-between time); and 3) New Beginnings.
Since we are all going through change in one or more areas of our lives at any given time, I thought I’d share them with you. You can repeat these to yourself; post them around your house; integrate them into your prayers; whatever helps you remember who you truly are:
  • “God and I are one.”
  • “Today will be a better day.”
  • “All is in divine Order.”
  • “I love myself.”
  • “I am free and unlimited.”
  • “One day at a time.”
  • “Today I attract what I want in my life.”
  • “All is well.”
  • “I am at peace in the present moment.”
  • “I am loved.”
  • “It is well with my soul.”
  • “I release and I let go.”
  • “I am stronger than any challenge that comes before me.”
  • “I can do this!”
Yes, you can!
Love and blessings on your journey,
Rev. Paula
P.S. Be sure to set your clocks one hour ahead when you go to bed Saturday night! You’ll lose an hour’s sleep, but you’ll make it to church on time!

Going to Headquarters

Dear Friends,
At one point on his spiritual journey, Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore became overwhelmed by the many conflicting ideas he was hearing about Truth. He wrote: “I said to myself, ‘In this babel, (bedlam or noise), I will go to headquarters’ (to God, Source, Spirit).”
As I shared last Sunday, many of us today are also feeling overwhelmed by conflicting claims and arguments about what is true and what is not. Like Charles Fillmore, we too can “go to headquarters” to reconnect with higher wisdom.
Here are some suggestions on how to do that:
  • Spend more time in prayer and meditation. Immerse yourself in a consciousness of peace. Soothing music, inspiring reading, and time in nature can help.
  • If you’re troubled, stressed or confused, ask “the Illuminator” (as Marianne Williamson calls it) within for clarity and guidance. You might ask, “How can I see this differently?”
  • Read inspiring stories of people who have shown amazing strength and courage in the harshest of conditions. Here is more about Edith Eva Eger, whom I spoke about Sunday as someone who transmuted darkness into light.
  • Pay attention to what you are experiencing in your body. If you are feeling tight, stressed, agitated, or constricted, ask yourself, “What untruth am I believing that is causing me pain?”
  • Get moving. Get exercise; branch out; get out of your usual routine. When we expand our experience, we expand our view, and our appreciation for life.
  • Pay attention to your shadow. Often we project our own shortcomings onto others. As Jesus said, take the log out of your own eye before you remove the speck in your brother’s eye. Do your own housecleaning before you criticize someone else!
And finally: Come to church! It always feels better when we’re together. We have some great, meaningful events planned for this weekend that will deepen your understanding and lift your spirits. Check them out below.
Much love to you on your journey,
Rev. Paula

Made in the Image and Likeness

Dear Friends,
Jesus knew and taught that all human beings are manifestations of God. He recognized the goodness and worth in all people, and continually emphasized “love thy neighbor.”
Last Sunday, I talked about three things we can do to treat others as the “image and likeness of God” that they are:
  • Care. In 2015, Pope Francis said in his Lenten message that, instead of giving up chocolate or alcohol for Lent (which, this year, begins Wednesday), we should give up being indifferent to others. We rob ourselves of our own humanity, and cut ourselves off from God, when we fail to recognize and respond to the needs of others.
  • Be Kind. Remember: We are all human, doing the best we can at any given moment. Set your intention at the start of each day to be kind to everyone you meet. It will bless them, and it will bless you.
  • Be Curious. Spend time with others whose lives are different from yours. Ask questions; listen; observe. Give yourself the gift of discovering different paths, perspectives, and life experiences.
This Sunday I’ll continue our series on “What Would Jesus Do?” by focusing on the importance of speaking what is true.
Much love,
Rev. Paula

God in Everyone

Dear Friends,
Jesus was known for his inclusive practice of honoring, respecting, and sharing meals with people of diverse backgrounds, social status, gender, and occupation. He did it deliberately to protest the so-called “purity system” espoused by the Jewish authorities. As I shared last Sunday, our Way Shower emphasized “love thy neighbor,” no matter who your neighbor may be. His was a ministry of love and compassion across any the lines of any external differences.
This Sunday, as we continue our series on “What Would Jesus Do: Reclaiming the Love, Compassion, and Inclusiveness of our Way Shower for Today’s Moral Issues,” we’ll see how Jesus courageously stood for the truth that all people are expressions of God. As human beings, we are ALL “made in the image and likeness” of God. That means we are all deserving of love, respect, and fair and equal treatment.
Join us Sunday as we mine the riches of Jesus’s teachings to apply them in our world today!
Much love,
Rev. Paula

"What Would Jesus Do?"

Dear Friends,

In challenging times, we often turn to great spiritual teachers for clarity, perspective, and guidance. What are we to make of the changes happening around us? How are we to live?

This Sunday, I’ll be kicking off a new series called, “What Would Jesus Do?” to rekindle our understanding of the essential teachings of Jesus and apply them to the moral issues of our day. I’ll be basing the series on the book Christ in Crisis, by Jim Wallis, in which Wallis decries the disconnection of the American church from the teachings of Jesus. He asks, “What are the fundamental truths of Jesus’s ministry that can help us find our way back to him, even and especially amid this fearful time?”

As Bishop Michael Curry writes in the book’s foreword: “Whenever Jesus of Nazareth — his actual teachings, his lived example, and his loving, liberating, and life-giving way — takes center stage, a revolution of love, a reformation of life, and a renewal of our relationship with God, each other, and all of creation is at hand.”

We’ll begin this Sunday by addressing Jesus’ compelling answer to the question, “Who Is My Neighbor?” I look forward to seeing you then!

Much love,

Rev. Paula

How to Live More Peacefully


Dear Friends,

The 22nd annual Season for Nonviolence, co-founded by Dr. Arun Gandhi and the Association for Global New Thought, began Jan. 30 (the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948) and extends through April 4 (the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968). It is dedicated to embracing and encouraging nonviolence to transform our lives and our world.

To act nonviolently in the outer world, we must first establish peace in our inner world. Here are the five basic principles for nonviolent living that I shared Sunday, drawn from The Nonviolence Handbook by Michael Nagler:

Avoid major media networks and outlets. Be mindful of the violence and fear often common to mainstream media, and strike a healthy balance in your viewing habits. Give yourself the gift of exploring other credible sources (such as podcasts) for news and entertainment.

Learn about nonviolence. Take the opportunity during this special season to learn about some of the inspiring leaders who have changed the world through nonviolent resistance. We’ll also have a handout for you Sunday on “64 Ways in 64 Days” to live nonviolently, and will be posting those on our Facebook page daily.

Take up a spiritual practice. Meditation, contemplative prayer, HeartMath and other spiritual practices help you connect with humanity on a deeper level.

Be more personal with others. Give others your undivided attention, even if it’s a quick exchange with a sales clerk, a delivery person, or a neighbor. Personal connection changes the contours of our lives.

Take up a project and get active! Find a cause or activity that speaks to your heart, and get involved. It always feels good to take action on what we care about.

Wishing you ever-more peace in your life and in our world.

Much love,

Rev. Paula

The Way of Nonviolence

Dear Friends,
Last Sunday, we discussed how making amends is a demonstration of strength, not weakness. This Sunday, as we kick off the Season for Nonviolence, we’ll see how the same is true for nonviolence: Far from being weak or passive, nonviolence requires tremendous strength and courage.
For examples, we need look no further than Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi – and Jesus. Jesus was a brilliant practitioner of nonviolence. He coached his followers to creatively use nonviolent strategies to disarm their oppressors and turn their hearts to the good. King and Gandhi effectively used the same kind of nonviolent resistance to secure civil rights and freedom for oppressed populations.
This Sunday, we’ll consider “the way of nonviolence,” rooted in faith, courage, and integrity. And we’ll see how it can be an effective tool for social change. As Walter Wink writes in his inspiring book Jesus and Nonviolence (published in 2003):
“To people dispirited by the enormity of the injustices that crush us and the intractability of those in positions of power, Jesus’ words beam hope across the centuries. We need not be afraid. We can reassert our human dignity. We can lay claim to the creative possibilities that are still ours…”
I look forward to a wonderful Sunday with you!
Much love,
Rev. Paula

Shelter in the Storm

Rev. Paula Mekdeci
Dear Friends,
One of the things I love about Unity Renaissance is that it is not only a place of joy, fellowship, and inclusiveness, but also one of sanctuary. We are shelter in the storm — a safe place to be, no matter who you are or what you’re going through.
I am reminded of that every time I witness the hugs, love, and encouragement that flow so freely in our community. I remember it when I hear about someone who is seeking a friend, or a listener, or simply a sense of belonging, and finds it here. I am struck by it when I hear of congregants reaching out to help one another.
In difficult times, love and support mean all the more. Several of our upcoming programs are specifically aimed at helping people heal, connect, and thrive. They include the “Ascension over Depression” with Curtis Jones this Saturday; the HeartMath informational meeting Sunday; the Singles Group meeting next Tuesday night; Prosperity Plus III starting Wednesday night; and Tom Baker’s insightful “Matters of the Heart” class in February. (Details below!) Of course we also have prayer chaplains available, and regular group meetings like the Unity Sisterhood, Men of Unity, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Oneness Blessing, Sunday book study, and more, to foster community and provide support.
I encourage you to make Unity Renaissance a place of spiritual sanctuary for you and encourage others to do the same. We need each other!
Much love,
Rev. Paula

Where to Find Beauty


Dear Friends,
Last Sunday I shared some of the wisdom and suggestions offered online to a disillusioned young woman seeking greater meaning and beauty in her life. People around the world offered advice such as:
  • “Create beauty in small ways — kindness is beautiful, a smile is beautiful, knowledge is beautiful. Let go of the construct that your job/paycheck/marital status/income defines you.”
  • “Get out and enjoy the natural world, wide open spaces are very restorative and will help you clear your mind.”
  • “Be comfortable in your own skin and learn to be happy as that skin changes.”
  • “Find something that speaks to your soul and do that. Remember ‘what speaks to your soul’ can change over time.”
  • “40 is not too old to train for a new career.” (and I would add, neither is 50 – or 60!)
  • “Getting beyond yourself is the key. Connections make meaning. Service makes meaning. For me, my faith and faith community were and continue to be helpful in that regard.”
  • “Find your own spirituality and listen carefully to what it says. Those are your values trying to guide you.”
For more insights, you may read the full article here.
May you find beauty and meaning in your life today and every day!
Rev. Paula

 Finding Peace in Tumultuous Times


Dear Friends,

What did Jesus mean when he said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you”? (Luke 14:27) What did he mean by “my peace,” and how are we to find it?

This Sunday, as we focus on Peace for the second Sunday in Advent, we’ll see how Jesus showed us the way of peace and the way to peace, even in difficult times. We’ll address how to overcome fear and anxiety in order to reclaim the kingdom of heaven within — an inviolable place of perfect peace.

We’ll also be inducting 19 prayer chaplains this Sunday (wow!) at the 11 a.m. service. And we’ll have a memorable and meaningful surprise for everyone who attends either of our Sunday services in person.

Join us as we continue our holiday celebration in ways that unite and inspire.

See you Sunday!

Much love,

Rev. Paula

Keep Breathing!


Dear Friends,

This week, Jehanne deQuillan, author and translator of The Gospel of the Beloved Companion: The Complete Gospel of Mary Magdalene, shared a three-part spiritual practice for elevating our consciousness: 1) Contemplation; 2) Right Thought; and 3) Right Action. The first step, contemplation, begins with taking three deep breaths.

I was reminded of that all week long as current events intensified in our country. And I was reminded of it anytime something unexpected or challenging popped up in my life. Three deep breaths. When we breathe, we are “inspiring” — taking in Spirit. We are calming ourselves and reconnecting with our true essence. From that centered place within, we can see rightly. We can be mindful about what we choose to think and do.

As Jehanne said this week: “We are on an eternal journey of expansion and growth.” When the road gets bumpy, we can remember that breakdowns lead to breakthroughs; that our hardships yield our greatest blessings.

This Sunday, I’ll be talking about how to be grateful for all of it: The great times and the tough times; the people we love and those who challenge us; the parts of ourselves we cherish and the parts that are still a work in progress.

Whatever is showing up in your life: Keep breathing. Keep the faith!

Much love,

Rev. Paula

You Can Forgive

Dear Friends,

As I shared last Sunday, the more we notice “holy moments” – times when we feel touched by grace, aware of a higher presence – the more of them we attract. As we say in Unity: “What we appreciate, appreciates.” What we give our attention to expands.

The testimonials Sunday from several of our congregants about holy moments at Unity Renaissance reminded us that our spiritual community is holy ground, alive with the love, compassion, and expansiveness of God. Here are a few more examples of holy moments shared by congregants this week on our Facebook page:

  • Laurel Brookes shared how, during a Sunday talk that particularly moved her, she had a strong sense of her deceased daughter’s presence. “It gave me chills,” she wrote, adding, “I can always count on Unity Renaissance for inspiration!”
  • New member Ellysia Flores said during the recent New Member Ceremony, “I just felt so much LOVE coming from the congregation. It was overwhelming and I knew, without a doubt, that I was home. I have never known anything as surely as I knew that!”
  • Andrée Rose Catalfamo described how, when she lived here and attended Unity Renaissance, her fiancé Jim died very suddenly from a heart attack. “So many members of my UR family came beside me and walked with me through that terrible time following his passing. I will never forget the love and kindness I was shown. Holiness in action, for sure.”

When we are attuned to Spirit, sacred moments show up in myriad ways. May you notice the touch of the Divine in your life, and see your blessings increase!


Rev. Paula

Make Yourself Happy

Dear Friends,

Happiness is a state of mind. We can hold thoughts that make us miserable (“I don’t have enough,” “I’m not enough,”) or thoughts that lift us up (“I am so blessed!” “I am loved and lovable”). The choice is ours.

Here is the list I shared last Sunday of what makes people happy, based on the film “Happy” which studied and surveyed people around the world:

• Being part of a social group, and having caring, supportive friends.
• Losing oneself in favorite activities. It could be sports, exercise, painting, writing, making music, whatever gets you “in the flow.”
• Counting your blessings.
• Appreciating/spending time in nature.
• Interacting with people of different ages.
• Contributing to something greater than yourself.
• Committing random acts of kindness.
• Giving. We immediately feel happier when we shift our thinking from “What don’t I have?” to “What do I have that I can share?”

If you’ve been feeling low, check out this list and consider adding what might be missing to boost your spirits. And remember: Most if not all of these opportunities are available to you at Unity Renaissance! Social groups, fellowship, sacred time, natural beauty, opportunities to learn, grow, serve, and remember our Oneness with God and each other. Thank you for being part of our spiritual family!

Much love,

Rev. Paula

Is It Time to Turn Off the TV?

Dear Friends,

After my talk last Sunday about finding more time for rest, renewal, and reflection, Richard and I decided to turn off the TV for the week. Three days in, the results are striking: The house is quieter. The energy is calmer. We have more time to rest and read, and more time to talk and connect with each other.

If you find yourself always rushing, or pressed for time, here are the suggestions I offered Sunday:

• Create more open time in your life. For example: Turn off the TV. Get off social media. Put down your electronic games. Pick an activity that is eating up your time, and stop doing it for a day or preferably a week.

• Use your newly found time to restore, renew, refresh, or reconnect. Read a book, take a nap, call a friend, work in the garden, dance, cook, paint, sing, pray, meditate, write in your journal. Or simply be. Do what feeds your soul.

• Stay present. Watch your own mind and notice how often your attention is in the past or future. When we stop being present, we lose the Now moment, which is the only time in which life occurs. Now is where we find peace; where we find stillness. It is where we find God.

Remember: You are creating your life with each choice you make. If you want a more heavenly experience, reclaim the time you need to take care of yourself, and stay present.

This Sunday we’ll continue our series on Wayne Muller’s book, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives by considering what truly makes us happy – absolutely free!

Much love,

Rev. Paula

Creating...and Resting


Dear Friends,

Last Sunday I shared Unity’s seven-step Creative Process, developed by Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore based on the first creation story in Genesis. We interpret the days of creation metaphysically, or symbolically, to discern the steps for manifesting what we most want in our lives. Here are the scripture verses and interpretations:

·Day One: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light.’” (Gen. 1:3) Light represents illumination, awareness, awakening. Interpretation: “Let there be Awareness.”

·Day Two: “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters. (Gen. 1:6) Firmament represents a foundation, a starting point, faith. Interpretation: “Let there be Faith.”

Day Three: “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together…and let the dry land appear.” (Gen. 1:9) Through imagination, we choose and arrange from the field of infinite possibilities. Interpretation: “Let there be Imagination.”

Day Four: “Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night…” (Gen. 1:14) We must focus and reflect our Divine Ideas through Will and Understanding. Interpretation: “Let there be Enlightened Action.”

Day Five: “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth.” (Gen 1:20) The creatures represent swarms of ideas, which require our judgment. Interpretation: “Let there be Discernment.”

Day Six: “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind…And God created humankind in his image.” (Gen. 1:24, 27) We apply love and wisdom to assure a balance of masculine and feminine. Interpretation: “Let there be Wholeness.” 

Day Seven: “God finished the work that He had done, and He rested…” (Gen. 2:2) Calls for rest and a return to the sacred. Interpretation: “Let there be Stillness.”

This Sunday, we’ll pick up where the creative process leaves off: With the Sabbath. Over the next five weeks, we’ll explore ideas, insights, and practices to help us restore balance, harmony, rest, renewal, and meaning in our lives. Each Sunday I’ll recommend a new Sabbath practice for the coming week; the following Sunday, you’ll have a chance to share your experiences with it.

I look forward to a renewing spiritual journey with you!

Much love,

Rev. Paula


Powerful, Creative You!


Dear Friends,

Often we think the word “creative” applies to some people but not others. In truth, we are all creative beings! Every day we create our reality through the thoughts we choose to think.

Our spiritual journey is about learning to create consciously vs. unconsciously. We have the power to turn our fondest dreams into reality. And we have a great guide for doing so: Genesis!

The first creation story in Genesis reveals how the creative process works, and how we can make it work for us. Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore once wrote, “What is true in the creation of the universe (as allegorically stated in Genesis) is equally true in the unfoldment of man’s mind and body” because, made in the image and likeness of God, we too are creators.

This Sunday, we’ll explore the seven steps of the Creative Process and how to use it to create the life we most want to live. (Hint: It always begins in chaos!)

And be sure to join us for a wonderful film Friday night, and a heartwarming Pet Blessing Saturday morning.

Much love,

Rev. Paula

P.S. This Sunday, we’ll kick off a new program for Unexpected Income. Get in the flow of giving and receiving and join us in tithing to Unity Renaissance 10 percent of any unexpected income from now till the end of the year. We’ve had an awesome year so far — Let’s finish strong. Thank you in advance for your participation and support!

Giving in Joy

Rev. Paula Mekdeci


Dear Friends,

A popular old song says:“The joy of living, living, living; It comes from giving, giving, giving.”

Often that truth becomes clearer to us as we age. We realize that the greatest gift in life is, well… giving! As we give, so we receive, and typically we receive more in return than we ever could have imagined.

This Sunday, our wonderful and inspiring Youth of Unity (Y.O.U.) will lead a special multi-generational service on “Giving in Joy.” They’ll share their own joy while also interpreting Shel Silverstein’s classic and moving book, The Giving Tree. People were blown away by our last Y.O.U. multi-generational service, and this one promises to be every bit as inspiring! Join us as we experience the insights, energy, and wisdom of our young people, who are truly our hope for the future.

Meanwhile: Prepare to be amazed when you see our property Sunday! Clearing is well underway to prepare for the construction of our new education wing, fellowship hall, expanded kitchen, bigger bathrooms and more. If ever there was a testament to the power of giving, this is it! Without you, this exciting project would not be happening. Because of you, our shared dream is coming true.

Thank you for your continued generosity in supporting Unity Renaissance and the expansion of our facilities and ministry. Your giving makes a difference! And I know you, in turn, are blessed with abundant love, prosperity, and fulfillment. That’s how the universe works!

Much love and gratitude,

Rev. Paula

Just Say Yes!


Dear Friends,

As I shared last Sunday, “no” can become our knee-jerk response to life. We may feel inadequate, unworthy, afraid, or unmotivated to engage more fully with life. But a steady diet of “no” crushes the human spirit. It is also a misuse of our innate power to create the life we imagine.

Unity minister Sue Sikking, author of God Always Says Yes, once wrote:

“If you believe and say, ‘I am lonely, unhappy, and poor’ or ‘I am rich, vital, and fulfilled,’ all power rushes to support your belief. All your fears are answered, but the longings of your heart are also answered. As you think, speak, and act, there is always this response…The law of life fulfills our desires, or it fulfills our worries and our fears. With God there is no distinction. The answer is always Yes. The choice is ours.”

In other words: Be mindful of what you think about, and where you place your focus. Because God’s going to say “Yes!” The Universe wants for you what you want for yourself.

So expect the best! Say “yes” to new possibilities. Say “yes” to your fondest dreams. Say “yes” to what speaks to your heart. As Jesus said, “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Step out in faith, and discover the power of Yes!

Much love,

Rev. Paula

Stretch Yourself!


Dear Friends,

Charles Fillmore described Unity as “a continuation of the great educational movement inaugurated by Jesus Christ.” Spiritual growth and education have always been at the heart of Unity.

Our Spiritual Education and Enrichment (S.E.E.) Week at Unity Renaissance is all about seeking, learning, and questioning. It is one of the most stimulating weeks of the year for our spiritual community as we stretch ourselves to expand our thinking and deepen our spirituality.

I hope you’ll find a way to take advantage of one or more of our classes at S.E.E. Week next week. The classes are:

·     Meditation Practices, with Rev. Elizabeth Mora, describing various methods of meditation and how to overcome obstacles in your meditation practice.

·     Unity Prayer, with Rev. Richard Mekdeci, explaining the empowering form of prayer in Unity called “affirmative prayer,” which emphasizes the presence of God in and as us;

·     Metaphysics 2, with Rev. Ogun Holder, exploring such spiritual concepts as Oneness, the Trinity, Evil, Sin, the Devil, the Threefold Nature of Humankind, Jesus/Christ/Jesus Christ/Christ Jesus and more.

·     The Gnostic Gospels, with Rev. Elizabeth Mora, an inspiring look at the provocative gospel writings omitted from the Bible;

·     The Gospel of the Beloved Companion: The Complete Gospel of Mary Magdalene, led by me, an in-depth look at what I believe is the most readable and understandable gospel of all (also available online); and

·     Bible Interpretation: Acts-Revelation, with Rev. Ogun Holder, which considers the scriptures through a metaphysical or symbolic lens (also available online).

You may sign up at church or online. More information and registration here. We do have a few scholarships available for those who are financially challenged.

Looking forward to a fabulous S.E.E. Week!

Much love,

Rev. Paula

We Need Each Other

Dear Friends,

One of my two-year-old granddaughter’s new sentences is: “Need help!” She has learned how to ask for the help she needs when she is reaching for something beyond her grasp, climbing stairs, or attempting other activities beyond her ability.

We all need help now and then. We need each other. I am reminded of that as people help and support one another in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, and as the storm heads our way.

I am also reminded of that as I reflect on the strength of our spiritual community, and the ways we show up for each other at Unity Renaissance. Every week I hear beautiful stories about congregants reaching out to help others who are ill, grieving, or struggling in some way. It is inspiring to witness that kind of open-hearted caring, so generously shared.

Unity cofounders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore wanted Unity to be just that loving, and just that empowering. This Sunday I’ll talk about the legacy they left us in creating a movement where everyone belongs, and everyone matters. I like to call it “inclusive Christianity” — a spiritual movement that welcomes and accepts all people for who they are, as they are. I think it is just the kind of ministry Jesus had in mind.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday. Till then — Be safe and smart as you ride out the storm!

Much love,

Rev. Paula

      Fancy Dive

Ann DeMichael


This past Sunday I shared a poem by Shel Silverstein entitled “Fancy Dive”. The poem spoke about the fancy diving techniques of Melissa of Coconut Grove, as she flew through the air, back flipped and spun, and found herself diving into an empty pool. Yikes!

Melissa had forgotten to check to ensure water was in the pool. How many times have we attempted something new, unfamiliar, daring, etc., only to realize that an essential element was missing?

As we release old ideas and attitudes and open up to new ones, we may find it challenging at first to dive in. We must create a new opening. As we do, we create a space for Spirit to be fully activated in our lives.

Once we have created these openings, Spirit expresses through us in ways that uplift, inspire, and renew us. We realize that everything we seek is already within us. The pool is never empty.

Matthew 7:7 says “knock and the door shall be opened for you”.  It doesn’t say, pound on the door, or you need a hammer to open the door, just knock. Spirit is knocking at our door wanting a greater participation in our lives.

Have a great week and remember…

The fanciest dive that ever was dove,

Was dove by you on your spiritual road.

You’ll bounce on the board and fly into the air

Always supported by God’s loving care.

Go on in, the waters fine,

You’ve got a swim date with the divine!

With love and blessings,

Ann DeMichael

Prayer and Pastoral Director

Ease and Grace

Ed Rosequist
In April of 2015, Unity Renaissance started down the road of facility improvement. At that time, it was all about a leaky roof and aging air/heating units. As our vision grew, we started asking “what was ours to do” in making the Renaissance a more conducive spiritual home.
Reverand Judi Meyer established Unity Renaissance on Eden Way North by committing to her vision. She asked for support, not only from the congregation in tithes and “faith bonds”, but from the original property owners, Dominion Power, architects and contractors. She would walk the property and focus on the blessings that were coming into manifestation. The 7000 square foot facility was completed and consecrated. In some difficult financial times, Judi would just keep praying to “keep the doors open and the lights on”.
Now, we are adding to the Unity Renaissance facility, constructing an additional 5100 square feet and modifying 1600 within the current facility. We have finished the roof and the air/heating systems, along with updating the sanctuary and a new sound system. It has been through our dedication and commitment, much like Judi in walking the property, that has gotten us this far. The next six months will be more challenging, as the construction team will be laying the new foundation, raising the walls and impacting the existing facility’s kitchen and bathrooms.  It will be important during construction for us to “keep the doors open and the lights on”, not only for our spiritual home but also in our consciousness as we gather each week to celebrate the goodness of God’s world.
Thank you for your time, talent and treasure to make Unity Renaissance a welcoming place for everyone to find their spiritual connection. Please keep praying for the “ease and grace” we will see in our construction, while blessing each person that helps in building out this vision. “Wherever we are, God is and all is well”.
Best wishes,
Ed Rosequist

Remember to Enjoy Life

Dear Friends,
Often we get so busy managing our lives that we forget to enjoy them. Only when we slow down, become present, and take in a wider view can we truly appreciate the abundant blessings of everyday life.
Having completed our Sunday series on The Zen Commandments, we can apply Dean Sluyter’s “10 Suggestions for a Life of Inner Freedom” to make our lives as rich and meaningful as possible. Those suggestions are:
  • Rest in Openness – Awareness is everything! Stay open and aware.
  • Act with Kindness – Kindness blesses us as well as others.
  • Notice the Moment – Be mindful of your inner and outer world.
  • Recognize Teachers – And everything is your teacher!
  • Keep It Simple – Maintain outer and inner simplicity.
  • Be Devoted – Dedicate yourself to that which you love.
  • No Appointment, No Disappointment – Let go of expectations.
  • Bless Everyone – Especially those who have withheld or withdrawn love from you.
  • Disconnect the Dots – Deconstruct your solidified ideas and stories.
  • Be a Mensch and Enjoy the Joke – Be an honest, reliable, trustworthy person who serves others and makes the most of life while remembering that everything is temporary.
Life is full of ups and downs — but with a little mindfulness, we can remember to enjoy the ride!
Much love,
Rev. Paula

How To Simplify Your Relationships

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday, I shared one key way to simplify our lives from Dean Sluyter’s book The Zen Commandments: Ten Suggestions for a Life of Inner Freedom: Be kind to others. Sluyter writes, “One of the many rewards of acting with kindness is that it helps keep life simple; one of the many punishments of cruelty and thoughtlessness is that they make life incredibly complicated.”

Here are his suggestions for how to create and maintain healthy and simple relationships:

• Take care of one another.
• Be as kind as you can.
• Do your share of finding new sources of fun.
• Quietly pass up opportunities to score points or be a wise guy.
• Give the benefit of the doubt.
• Try to make things less insane rather than more insane.
• If you think the other person is off the program, address the situation gently and with respect. But since the problem is often in your own perception, wait a little while first to see if your perception changes.

Much love,

Rev. Paula

Practicing 'Guru Yoga'

Dear Friends,
Last Sunday, we considered how everything in life is our teacher – everything! Our friends, enemies, partners, strangers, animals, rocks, trees, jobs, situations, illnesses, chance encounters, mistakes, setbacks, hardships and more.
In his book The Zen Commandments, author Dean Sluyter suggests a way to discern the lessons presented to us every day. He calls it “guru yoga.” To practice it, as we go through our day, we recognize everyone and everything as our teacher. In any situation, we ask ourselves, “What is my teacher teaching me?” If something or someone upsets us, if we are facing a difficulty or challenge, we ask: What am I to learn from this? This is the quickest way to shift our perspective.
When we recognize people, experiences, and situations as our teachers, we become more attentive students. This Sunday, we’ll talk about two other ways to deepen our spiritual practice: By simplifying our lives and discovering the art of devotion.
See you then!
Much love,
Rev. Paula

Beginner's Mind, Many Teachers


Dear Friends,

Zen Buddhism teaches “shoshin,” or “beginner’s mind” – the spiritual practice of being open and receptive to what is before us, without preconceived notions. In this state of awareness, our minds are like a clean slate, and we are like beginners, wide open to learning and growing.

Beginner’s mind helps us pay attention. It also reminds us that we are students of life, and that everything is our teacher. Everything! The good times, the hard times, the people we love, the people we avoid. If you believe, as we do in Unity, that we are each on a spiritual journey, every twist and turn on the path, every encounter and experience, is for our highest good, leading us to greater wisdom and wholeness.

The next two suggestions in “The Zen Commandments,” by Dean Sluyter, which we are studying for five Sundays, arise from this state of beginner’s mind. They are: “Notice the Moment” and “Recognize Teachers.” This Sunday we’ll particularly look at how to recognize, appreciate, forgive, and embrace the special individuals in our lives who have earned the distinction of being called “my teacher.”

Much love,

Rev. Paula

What's Zen Got to Do With It?

Dear Friends,
When people become disillusioned with traditional Christianity, they sometimes turn to Eastern religions for spiritual nourishment. Buddhism, Hinduism, Vedanta, and other Eastern paths seem to offer more mysticism and less dogma. They also offer practical tools and insights for raising one’s consciousness, and living a more loving and fulfilling life.
But then, so did Jesus. Jesus was most interested in changing our perspective, waking us up to the truth that the kingdom of heaven is “at hand.” The key to perceiving it is our inner awareness; our consciousness. Many of Jesus’s teachings are similar to what we find in Eastern spirituality. We might say Jesus was a Zen master in his own right!
That’s why I’m excited to kick off a new five-part series this Sunday on “The Zen Commandments,” based on the book by Dean Sluyter. The series will explore the wisdom we find in Jesus’s teachings and the Bible, as well as in Zen philosophy, popular culture, and daily life. From being open and aware, to recognizing our teachers and enjoying the journey, we’ll discover spiritual practices that can shift our awareness and raise us to a whole new level of being.
As we celebrate our nation’s freedom today, let us also move forward on our spiritual path to claim our inner freedom. Happy Fourth of July!
Much love,
Rev. Paula

VB + UR Strong

Dear Friends,
This Sunday promises to be an extra special day at Unity Renaissance: It will be our “Virginia Beach Strong Day,” as we show support for our community in the wake of the May 31 mass shooting in Virginia Beach; it will also be a Multigenerational Service Sunday.
Being strong and standing together for Virginia Beach and the entire Hampton Roads area means we expand our hearts to care about others; we extend ourselves to support those who are hurting and vulnerable; and we remember that no matter how different or separate from each other we may seem, in truth, we are one.
These ways of being together are evident every week at Unity Renaissance. Our calling now is to express them more fully in the world.
This Sunday’s multigenerational service will be an inspiring example of the strength that comes from diversity; the love that bridges outer differences; and the power we tap into when we dare to dream together. Join us as we come together to heal, to celebrate, and to hold high the vision for “a spiritually awakened world, living in peace, love, and joy.”
Much love,

Our Blossoming Unity Movement

Dear Friends,
I’m back from a joyful week at the annual Unity People’s Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, sponsored by Unity Worldwide Ministries. So many wonderful things are happening in our Unity movement! Here are some of the themes and trends that stood out for me:
  • Unity has greatly expanded its online classes, with myriad timely, accessible, and high-quality courses available to the general public. Click here to learn more.
  • The movement is expanding its emphasis on diversity to focus on inclusiveness. This means not only increasing the representation of people of varying ages, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, national origin, etc., but also fostering their increased participation and engagement.
  • Unity is growing internationally, with expanding programs, churches, and education. This week, a new Unity in Africa region was approved.
  • A strong environmental consciousness is evident in large-scale activities such as the new Unity EarthCare program sponsored by Unity Worldwide Ministries, as well as day-to-day practices. This year our conference bags included bamboo straws and other items to encourage us to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  • New programs and partnerships have been formed to encourage “engaged spirituality.” The Association for Global New Thought,which includes Unity, has launched Social Uplift Ministries to provide curricula that “approach the issues of the day with a spiritual focus” (and yes, I’ll be looking into these for those who may be interested!).
  • Unity Village is thriving, and has never looked more beautiful.The former cafeteria has been remodeled into a beautiful ballroom for major events, and the bookstore will soon become a bistro that offers food service throughout the week, as well as books and gifts.
  • Of course, the highlight of my week was seeing my wonderful husband Richard cross the stage and receive his licensing and ordination as a Unity minister at this year’s ordination ceremonies! We’ll be celebrating Rev. Richard at church on Sunday, June 30.
I look forward to sharing more with you at our Community Forum this Sunday. See you then!

We're Sooo Close!

Dear Friends,
If all goes as planned, we now expect to break ground on our TURNING POINT! project — including a new education wing, kitchen, bathrooms and fellowship hall — in just a few weeks.
Over the past several days, we have signed the contract with our builders; the bank has finished its appraisal of our land and buildings to clear the way for our loan; and our civil engineer has submitted the revised site plan to the City of Chesapeake. All we need now is site plan approval from the city to move full steam ahead. If we receive that by the end of June as expected, we should be able to break ground in the first or second week of July. Planning is already underway for a festive groundbreaking celebration. Stay tuned!
  • Thank you to all of you who have given, and continue to give, so generously of your support and resources to make this dream reality. It couldn’t happen without you!
  • Thank you to our amazing Facilities Improvement Committee, chaired by Ed Rosequist, which has poured over every detail of the plans to make sure we make the right decisions on EVERYTHING.
  • Thank you to our dedicated and visionary Board of Trustees for their support and leadership, and to our talented and committed staff and volunteers.
  • And thank you to Rev. Judi Meyer, who seeded the consciousness and community that became Unity Renaissance — and birthed this dream 30 years ago.
I’m sure you have questions about what’s ahead. Be sure to join us at the Board of Trustees’ Community Forum on June 23 to get the latest update and ask your questions. We’ll also have some updated drawings to share.
What a glorious time for Unity Renaissance! Thank you for helping to make it so.
Much love,
Rev. Paula
P.S. After my talk last Sunday, many of you asked for additional resources to learn more about Mary Magdalene and the Cathars. I recommend: The Gospel of the Beloved Companion: The Complete Gospel of Mary Magdalene, translation and commentary by Jehanne de Quillan, available in our bookstore; The Cathars: Their History and Myths Revealed, by Sean Martin; and God’s Heretics: The Albigensian Crusade, by Aubrey Burl.

My Travels with Mary Magdalene

Dear Friends,
It is great to be back after a momentous trip to southern France, where Richard and I were part of an 8-day tour organized by Jehanne de Quillan tracing the ministry and legacy of Myriam the Migdalah (whom we know as Mary Magdalene).
People have been asking me all week, “How was your trip?” My summation would be: Inspiring, educational, disturbing, and enlightening. It touched me deeply and renewed my sense of mission and purpose for all of us in Unity. It is clear to me that we are part of a golden thread of truth that traces directly back to Yeshua (Jesus) and his beloved companion, Myriam. Much of this truth is reflected in the groundbreaking book, The Gospel of the Beloved Companion: The Complete Gospel of Mary Magdalene, translated and published by Jehanne de Quillan and available in our bookstore. But much more became clear to me through our exploration, experience, and insights in southern France.
I am excited to share with you Sunday what I have learned and why it matters. For me, the pieces have all come together, and the lessons are compelling.

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