In 1936 Rev. Julia McKee with the loving support of her husband, Brown McKee, led our spiritual community for over 30 years. When she founded the church Rev. Julia and the members of her church met first in a building on (1301) Wachtel St, and later two store front buildings in the south St Louis area. In 1942, when the church moved to their store front at 284 Lemay Ferry Rd, Rev. Julia and the membership began fundraising for their “dream church.”
Their most successful fundraisers were the church picnics held each year. Big roast beef sandwiches with bowls of potato salad, popular side dishes and home-made desserts became hugely popular with the neighborhood. Each year, the people throughout the community looked forward to the Unity Picnics where they could enjoy a wonderful meal at a reasonable price.
Archival notes indicate that the members were ambitious and held bake sales, sold vanilla and pepper (speculation maybe Watkins products that were wildly popular in the ‘50s), quilts and fruitcakes. While fruitcakes have lost their popularity today, then they were a standard Christmas gift. During December 1958, the members sold 1,453 pounds of fruitcake for a profit of $435. Loved that fruitcake.
In 1950 the church had raised the money to purchase the corner where Sigerson Nursery once stood at Pardella and Bayless. Three years later they were able to break ground and the new construction was completed 17 months later. The Dedication for the new church was held June 27, 1954 and Rev. Julia and the members realized their “dream church.”
Through the years Unity of St Louis South has been blessed with wonderful spiritual leaders. Once Rev. Julia retired she continued to attend the church until she made her transition in 1972. The spiritual leaders who followed continued to lead the church following Unity Principles and teachings. With such a wonderful, solid base established by Rev. Julia and the continued work of the congregation, the church continues to flourish today.
In 1994 the church celebrated their 40 Year Anniversary and another huge celebration was planned for the 60th Anniversary. While these two events were noteworthy and great fun for the church family, Unity of St Louis-South had two major events significant to our history.
The Peace Be Still mural in the front of our sanctuary is one of our most treasured archives. In the 1960’s Lowell H. Turner, a ministerial student, was commissioned by Rickert Fillmore to paint this painting for the newly-named Peace Chapel at Unity Village in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. (Note: We have had several name changes through the years. We were Lemay Unity Center, Lemay Unity Church and Unity Church of Peace. It was during our time as Unity Church of Peace that we received the painting.) We are the only Unity church in the world that has an originally painted replica of this Peace mural. Rev. Lowell presented this gift to our church in December, 1969. To learn more about the mural and the artist click on Peace Be Still.
It was May, 1976, that Unity of St Louis South hosted “Our Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration” dinner. This event is particularly noteworthy because James Dillet Freeman graciously agreed to be our Guest Speaker at the event. Freeman was a renowned author, “poet laureate to the moon” and Unity Minister. He was vastly popular and respected in the Unity community. He has written countless books, memorable poems and his words, thoughts and phrases are repeated in Unity churches worldwide. For a brief bio and a copy of his famous poem, “I Am There” click on James Dillet Freeman.