James Dillet Freeman (adapted for Oasis Rising)
What is a church?
by James Dillet Freeman
People often ask, “Is Oasis Rising a church?
I usually answer, “What is a church?
What do you think a church is? Your idea of what a church is may determine what you think Oasis Rising is.
We get our English word church from a Greek word, kyriakon. If you mean by church what the Greek word meant, then Oasis Rising is a church. For it meant “the center or seat of the Lord’s power. And Oasis Rising certainly is this.
The work kyriakon, from which church is derived, does not appear in the Bible.
The word that is translated as church in the New Testament is another Greek word, ecclesia. It merely meant “the called-out ones, and Jesus used it to refer to those who were following in the way and doing the work of Christ, carrying His message of Truth to the world. This certainly, too, Oasis Rising is doing.
In the first days of Christianity, church could not possibly have referred to a place, because there were no places in which Christians were established. The Christian church consisted simply of a group of dedicated men who wandered about, teaching the truth as they had found it. After a while they established places and built buildings they usually called churches, where they could get together with one another, meet, discuss, and practice their religion. This is a natural thing for people to do.
In the same way, people in Oasis Rising have gotten together and set up places they call centers, churches, temples, societies, and the like, where they can meet, exchange their ideas of truth, and help one another to develop their divine potential.
But this has not been a principal way that Oasis Rising has found expression. Oasis Rising is as much an attitude as an idea and it is a religious movement that is not limited to any particular place or denomination.
Perhaps Oasis Rising is a new kind of church.
All churches, all religious movements, are based on beliefs. Most Christian churches share most of their beliefs. They do not differ because they have different beliefs, but because they emphasize different aspects of their beliefs.
Thus, Oasis Rising emphasizes the belief that God is good, God is love. Therefore, His will for you is good—happiness, health, supply, whatever contributes to your growth and unfoldment.
Also, Oasis Rising emphasizes God’s impersonal aspect, God as principle.
Above all, Oasis Rising emphasizes the belief that God is within you. You have a divine potential.
Oasis Rising does not demand that you subscribe to a creed.
Oasis Rising does not ask whether you are a member of some particular religious organization.
Oasis Rising does not require you to perform certain rites and practices.
In all these matters, it leaves you free.
This is one of the great characteristics of Unity. It leaves people free to practice their religion at whatever level they have come up to, and to do whatever they feel is right and necessary to establish their own right relationship with God.
The church like Oasis Rising crosses all religious bodies, all denominations. It does this not as a separating, divisive force, but as a harmonizing, strengthening spirit. The work of Oasis Rising --its religious activity as a church -- is done with no regard to sect or denomination.
It never asked any of these people, “Are you a student of UFBL? It never asked if they were Lutherans or Presbyterians, Catholics or Jews, Buddhists or Moslems.
It did not try to induce them to change their religious affiliation or to enter one if they had none. It prayed with them.
Then, too, Oasis Rising is the church of the written word. Today, the written word has come to include cassettes and radio and television programs. But throughout its existence, Oasis Rising has conducted its ministry to benefit the people of Las Vegas.
Again, as with its prayer ministry, Oasis Rising has not tried to make these people members of a particular denomination.
Oasis Rising does not say, “Here is a creed, you must subscribe to it. Instead it says, “Here are ideas that we feel are true about God, about yourself, about life. If you feel that any of these ideas are acceptable and useful, then use them.
We do not offer teachings as final truths that you must accept or be lost. We offer teachings as a set of directions that will help you to find your way.
Oasis Rising is the church spiritual, the church of the individual, growing, seeking, unfolding, becoming what he is meant to be.
It was not founded to separate people into another body, bounded by religious laws, doctrines, practices, and rituals. It was founded on the notion that God is within you, and therefore your purpose in life is to express your divine potential. Everything Oasis Rising has done as a church, it has done to help you achieve this purpose. It accepts you where you are and for what you are, and it helps you become the child of God you were born to be.
To help you to do this, leaders and members of Oasis Rising will pray with you, and it will teach you how to pray yourself, teach you techniques of prayer and meditation, techniques of seeking and finding God within you. It will give you words to inspire you and words to instruct you as you meet your problems and come up through them to live effectively and well.
Because Oasis Rising as a church believes in its own divine potential, it has trusted God to supply support for its work. It has never charged for its prayers, and it has prepared its printed materials as inexpensively as it could, in the faith that those who are helped and want to see its message brought before others will provide financial support.
Many persons freely have sent love offerings to support the work that Oasis Rising is doing, because they believe Oasis Rising does help people live more effectively, in a way to bring forth a better world for all.
Oasis Rising is a church, but a new and different kind of church. It has teachings, but not a creed.
It is more than a week-day application of spiritual principles to daily problems than it is a Sunday service.
It has students, but demands no affiliation. It is more a movement than a body of believers. Those who study UFBL teachings do not even have a name they can give when people ask, “What are you? They just have to say they are students of Oasis Rising or metaphysics or something of that sort.
Perhaps the essence of Oasis Rising is a new and different kind of church.
James Dillet Freeman (1912 – April 9, 2003), is often considered one of Unity's best writers. His poetry is so impactful, it was taken to the moon, not once, but twice. Buzz Adrin took Freeman's "Prayer for Protection" with him to the moon on Apollo 11. The prayer had been written in 1941 at the height of World War 2 for civilians enduring Aerial Bombardment.
James B. Irwin road Apollo 15 to the moon in order to leave a microfilm of Freeman’s 1947 “I Am There.
You can read wonderful classics of New Thought at New Thought Library. The above work is a great example of an adaptation of Freeman's writing.