Bezio, Clara May Hoagland Rowland

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Bezio, Clara May Hoagland Rowland

The longest-serving Director of Silent Unity to date, Clara May Hoagland Rowland Bezio was one of the most influential figures of the Unity movement. She has been called the “Second Mother of Unity” (Phil White) and the “Reigning Queen of Silent Unity” (Rosemary Fillmore Rhea), and her teachings have inspired generations of Unity leaders.

May was raised in the Unity movement. Her father Daniel Hoagland was a member of the board of directors of the Kansas City Unity Society of Practical Christianity, where May attended services from the age of 5. May began working for the Silent Unity Healing Department in 1912, shortly after finishing high school, and in 1916 was appointed by the Fillmores as Director of Silent Unity, a role she served for 55 years. As Director, May emphasized prayer as central to the department’s function, in keeping with the roots of the Unity movement itself. She believed that the most effective type of prayer took the form of affirmations, especially “I Am” statements of Truth, and that prayer produced positive results, as evidenced by the number of people contacting Silent Unity. At the time of her retirement in 1971, Silent Unity was responding to 750,000 letters and 200,000 telephone calls per year.

May’s influence extended throughout the Unity movement, well beyond Silent Unity. She has been credited as a key figure in the organization and direction of the Unity Training School, which operated between 1931 and 1945, and the Ministerial Training Program for men established in 1945. She served on the faculty of the Unity Institute for Continuing Education and the School for Ministerial and Religious Studies. May also served on the Unity School of Christianity’s Board of Trustees and was a stockholder of the corporation. (After the death of Charles Sherlock Fillmore in 1948, May was granted approximately one-third of the total shares in recognition of her valuable service to the school and out of gratitude for her family’s contribution to Unity.) Both Lowell and Charles Rickert Fillmore noted May’s impact on their work as presidents of the Unity School of Chrisitianity.

May authored two books, Dare to Believe (1961) and The Magic of the Word (1972), and dozens of articles and pamphlets, including How to Be Young—Spiritually, Mentally, Physically (1953). Her recorded meditation “Come Ye Apart Awhile” encapsulated May’s teachings on spiritual healing. 

May Rowland Bezio died on April 9, 1977. Unity posthumously commissioned a portrait of her from the well-known artist Daniel MacMorris, which was dedicated on June 18, 1978.