By JESSICA KRAMPE
The celebration Sunday at the Unity Center of Columbia, 1600 W. Broadway, honored the church’s 30 years as a center with food, games, magic and live music.
Matt Bennett, one of the leaders of the youth ministry team, was nominated to help plan the celebration with Mary Clements, the youth ministry director.
“(The event is about) looking forward,” Bennett said. “Remembering to look forward and to see what we can become and how we can better inspire people all over the world.”
For the past five years, Unity Center’s big project was remodeling the Founders Wing. The 30th anniversary celebration was also a time to pay tribute to those who started the church.
“This celebration is certainly to help us remember those core group of people who had enough nerve to say, ‘Let’s do this,’” Bennett said.
Unity Center invited Jeff Copeland, an illusionist, to be the strolling magician as part of the festivities. Walking from table to table, he performed card and coin tricks for those eating and socializing inside. Copeland also put on a 45-minute show for the children during Sunday school, entertaining them with two critters, Pete the parakeet and Stinky the skunk.
The celebration continued outside with games such as a three-legged race, a blindfolded activity and a search through a haystack. Kids who participated received prizes, including gold coins and balloons.
The normal crowd of friends and family were invited to the event, but a special guest was also in attendance for the activities.
Desiree Thom, spiritual leader of the Sunshine Unity Center in Guyana, was a part of the center’s anniversary. Thom is spending time here on her way to Kansas City for a leadership conference at the Unity Village.
Kristin Powell, senior minister of Unity Center, is the mentoring minister. She helps Thom find tutors and books. The two share stories, pray together and talk once a month. Through this relationship, the two ministries became sister ministries.
“I think there are a lot of possibilities of ways we can support each other, learn from each other and grow together,” Powell said.
Unity Center contributes to the Sunshine Unity Center’s library. Thom brought a packet of letters from her members who have benefited from the books in their classes. The letters gave people a personal sense of what they are doing, Powell said.
More ideas for the sister ministries are in the works, such as a pen pal program. Thom said she envisioned an exchange group where members can visit both sides.
“Having Desiree here is such a huge step,” Powell said. “Meeting people in person is such a big part of forging that relationship. Putting faces to names and essence and the real experience of relationship.”
As the Unity Center celebrates 30 years, Thom’s visit is another step for their community, Powell said.
“To not only have a worldwide vision but to put feet to that,” she said. “To have real relationships and real experiences.”