Fillmore, Charles Sherlock (1854–1948)
Charles S. Fillmore, cofounder of the Unity School of Christianity,
the largest of the New Thought metaphysical groups in
North America, was born August 22, 1854, in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
He had little formal schooling in his childhood years and
was largely self-educated. Reading widely during his youth, he
was fascinated by the few books he could find on Spiritualism,
Eastern religions, and the occult. He moved about the West
during his young adult years and eventually settled in Colorado
in 1881, where he went into business with the brother-in-law of
Nona Brooks, an early Divine Science leader in the state. While
there, he married Mary Caroline Page, who, as Myrtle Fillmore,
would work as Charles’s partner in the development of
the Unity School.
In 1884 the Fillmores moved to Kansas City. Two years
later, E. B. Weeks, the student and representative of an independent
Christian Science college in Chicago, came to Kansas
City to lecture. Myrtle Fillmore attended the lectures and, taking
their teachings to heart, was over the next year healed of
the tuberculosis that had hobbled her young life. She gradually
convinced Charles of the truth of the teachings, and thereafter
Charles became an enthusiastic supporter of Christian Science.
He began a magazine, Modern Thought, which went through
several name changes over the next few years. It survives today
as Unity.
In the meantime, the Fillmores became aware of the work
of Emma Curtis Hopkins and gradually became convinced
that she was the best of the many Christian Science and mind
cure lecturers they had heard. They traveled to Chicago to
study with her and in 1891 were ordained by her. Their magazine,
which had been open to all of the varied interests of
Charles, finally focused on the healing principles as taught by
Hopkins. As suggested by Myrtle, Charles began the Society of
Silent Help to tie together the readers of the magazine who
could not travel to Kansas City. In 1891, while in Chicago, the
two also decided upon a name for their work, Unity, and soon
all of their activities were combined under that heading. The
growth of the work allowed the launching in 1909 of a second
magazine, Weekly Unity, as well as Charles’s first book, Christian
Healing, written from the notes of his healing classes in Kansas
By the end of World War I, Unity had become a large movement
with a national following. A vegetarian restaurant
opened, and Fillmore became one of the early radio preachers,
beginning broadcasts on WOQ in 1922. In 1924 Unity purchased
its own radio station. That same year Fillmore began
one of the most important Unity projects, Unity Daily Word, now
Daily Word, a day-by-day devotional booklet and the organization’s
most popular publication over the years.
During the 1930s Fillmore wrote a number of the books for
which he is widely remembered today. They include The Twelve
Powers of Man (1930), which explores some of humanity’s psychic
potentials; Metaphysical Bible Dictionary (1931), a guide to
metaphysical Bible interpretation; Prosperity (1934), the Fillmores’
answer to the Depression; and Jesus Christ Heals (1931).
In 1933 Myrtle died, and Charles married Cora G. Dedrick. He
retired from the pulpit of Unity Church and began a period of
lecturing and traveling until his death on July 5, 1948, at the
age of 93.
D’Andrade, Hugh. Charles Fillmore Herald of the New Age.
New York Harper & Row, 1974.
Fillmore, Charles S. Christian Healing Science of Being. Kansas
City, Mo. Unity School of Christianity, 1909.
———. Jesus Christ Heals. Kansas City, Mo. Unity School of
Christianity, 1931.
———. Metaphysical Bible Dictionary. Kansas City, Mo. Unity
School of Christianity, 1931.
———. Prosperity. Kansas City, Mo. Unity School of Christianity,
———. The Twelve Powers of Man. Lee’s Summit, Mo. Unity
School of Christianity, 1930, 1955.