Unity Spiritual Center’s Board President Reverend Fran Polacco On Her Spiritual Journey
Nov 30, 2014 11:13AM
As board president, she is a point of contact for people in the congregation, answers any questions they may have, looks to the future and organizes administrative maintenance all with the consciousness of spirit. With a background in human resources, Rev. Fran gravitated toward board work because it is a place in which her business skills can be utilized while being able to make decisions based on what is good for the whole, both presently and in the future.
Rev. Fran believes that Unity offers the community a spiritual home. She and her husband stumbled across Unity during a time when they were longing for a stronger connection to God. From their first service, it was obvious their search had come to an end. They love that Unity is centered in love and “creating a world of oneness and peace.” Unity is focused on creating a welcoming, inspiring environment connected by faith. The services, full of hope, peace and empowerment, were an ultimately life-transforming experience for her. Unity and Audrey Palmer, the center’s first and only minister, have made a huge difference in her life. She explains, “While I always believed in God, I felt like God was so distant in terms of the religion that was at my disposal growing up. It was never was a good fit; I always had questions and no place to ask them. Unity is a place not necessarily to answer the questions; it’s a place to question your answers.”
Audrey helped Rev. Fran recognize her destiny of becoming an interfaith minister by guiding her through her debilitating fear of public speaking. She started out small, reading the daily word during service, until one day when she was asked to fill in. Though she was anxious, it was then she realized: “This is what I want to do. We all have something of value to share.”
Founders Walter and Kathryn Chauncey started Unity Spiritual Center in 1985 as a small group of people meeting for a weekly book study using a “wide variety of texts with a metaphysical and spiritual message.” The center evolved from meeting in homes to establishing itself at the Hunterdon Hills VFW in 2000, where it has remained ever since. Recently, after their beloved minister retired, Unity was propelled into transition. In the midst of hiring a new minister, the spiritual center has seen enormous change and growth. During this time, a remarkable group of ordained ministers, including Rev. Fran herself, have filled in at the center. She believes, “We are all ministers; we are all on a spiritual path. As a human being, we all can speak to that; we can hold each other up and support each other.”
Unity embraces all faiths and walks of life. So while the center is primarily inspired by the teachings of Jesus Christ, they also draw from other spiritual leaders like Buddha and offer A Course in Miracles discussion class. Their Sunday Services focus on a particular aspect of life that congregates can concentrate on in the upcoming week. The center offers a practical approach to Christianity. Rev. Fran expresses, “Unity calls for you to live what you believe. You learn how to meet life, how to have things like nonviolence communication, how to address conflict in positive way and how to facilitate peaceful outcomes. It calls for you to be the best person that you can be- to think about your own behavior and how it impacts not only yourself but the world around you. Unity is always calling me higher. Looking through life in a spiritual lens puts everything in perspective and makes life hopeful.”
Unity provides a relaxed space to expand your faith and connect you to God. Rev. Fran says, “Our appearance is somewhat casual and while we don’t necessarily have the look of a church, the minute you walk in, it feels welcoming and sacred.” Anyone who is searching for an awareness of God in their lives would benefit from the offerings at Unity.
Unity is always looking for ways to engage the community. Rev. Fran shares that their youth group is doing a Christmas drive for the underprivileged, donating Christmas decorations to the local women’s shelter. Additionally, Unity teams up with United Way each year for a giving tree in which they provide Christmas, in terms of gifts, food and other goods, to a needy family in the community. They also have outreach on a regular basis so folks have an opportunity to see if Unity is a good fit for them on their spiritual journey. Unity has both youth and family ministries available, ranging in age from preschool through high school. The center offers Silent Meditation practices, various yoga classes, book discussions and more. Their Sunday Services start at 10 am and are available on their website as well. With plenty of ways to expand upon your spiritual journey, Rev. Fran expounds, “All we really want is an awareness of God in our lives. If we have that, then we can have that sense of peace, love and fulfillment that we search for.”