Graduate Theological Union
New Church on the Block
Unity of Berkeley sits nestled on the corner of Scenic and Le Conte, surrounded by three GTU member schools. Rev. Dr. Patricia Keel, Unity’s minister, is excited to be here.
Keel says she was called in 2001 to pioneer a Unity church in Berkeley while meditating on Hildegard von Bingen. “Hildegard was called to leave her monastery and establish a new one across the Rhine. My message from Hildegard was to cross the Bay from a congregation I was a part of in Marin.”
Keel’s Unity church in the East Bay originally offered only weekday classes on meditation and creativity. Then national tragedy nudged her into formal ministry: “I remember 9-11 was on a Tuesday. I put a small ad in the local paper for a service to be held the following Sunday. Nine people showed up. Today, we see more than 100 each week.”
The church moved to Holy Hill in fall 2008. “Our church’s building was being sold, and when I called to rent classroom space at Pacific School of Religion, I learned PSR had just acquired the former University Christian Church. It was a providential moment.
“We were able to bring new life to a beautiful space. In essence, the walls were painted with prayers of people who had worshipped here before. The building held a sense of holiness, vitality, and joy.”
Founded in the late 1800’s, Unity’s message comes from the life and teachings of Jesus and honors the universal truth in all wisdom traditions. The term “Practical Christianity” is often used to describe Unity, which is grounded in positive prayer and healing. In addition to Sunday mornings, Unity offers classes, concerts, and events throughout the week. A recent focus on healing included “Wisdom Healing Qigong” and “Emotional Freedom Techniques.”
Unity of Berkeley looks forward to welcoming all of its Holy Hill neighbors, and Rev. Keel hopes the church will become a unique spiritual center for the community.
Check out Unity’s schedule and offerings at www.unityberkeley.org.