An Interview with Rev Linda Martella-Whitsett, Vice President of Silent Unity
On one’s life journey, you never quite know what lies ahead. However, Rev Linda Martella-Whitsett felt quite secure in her role as the well-loved minister at Unity Church of San Antonio, Texas. In fact, Linda believed that she ultimately would retire from church ministry in Texas. Then, she slowly, hesitantly embraced the possibility of an exhilarating opportunity—to serve as Vice President of Silent Unity, a worldwide prayer ministry founded in 1890.
Unrelated to her deep love for Unity teachings or the excitement she felt as a board member involved in the hiring of Jim Blake, now CEO at Unity World Headquarters at Unity Village, Linda had never considered applying for the job, or any other position. She stated simply, “I had no desire or inclination to look for anything else.”
The idea of serving Silent Unity, a role filled with a Who’s Who of stellar Unity leaders, appeared on her radar screen when a colleague brought the option to her attention. Linda responded with a laugh.
However, she entered a process of discernment, prayer and dialogue that ultimately propelled her north to confront snow and ice on her house-hunting trip with husband, Giles, and daughter, Alicia. Linda drew comfort from knowing that she and her family managed harsher weather conditions when they lived in Omaha for 17 years.
Ultimately, Linda chose to redefine her career path to embrace a visionary goal. She envisions expanding the reach of Unity prayer so that we emphasize our second Unity principle—our Divine Identity—and principle number three—the Law of Mind Action—for Unity people and beyond, for people who consider themselves non-religious. She said, “We can modernize and reduce the religiosity for those who have yet to connect with our timeless Unity message.”
Linda’s excitement quickened as she realized the potential shifts that could be achieved. “When I discovered the readiness for moving into a contemporary Unity message, I began to imagine the possibility and feel the thrill of being able to minister in Unity in a more expansive way.” Linda shared a perception of herself as a bit of a “rebel” who often went out on a limb to teach a modernized approach to prayer language. She said, “The way that I approached Unity prayer was not steeped in the traditional language.”
During the interview process, Linda and the interview team engaged in a process of discernment during their mutual exploration of a potential “fit.” Linda sought and found a path that would support her as a vocal, visible, Unity minister.
When asked about her husband, Giles, and daughter, Alicia, making the move to Missouri with her, Linda tearfully described that they regard her as their minister. A self-described ambitious and intentional person focused on her work, Linda places a low priority on domestic skills. With her busy schedule growing even fuller with her expanded role and volunteer commitments, she appreciates her husband’s and daughter’s “tolerance and support.” She credits Giles with keeping her well-fed, maintaining her automobile, and providing generous emotional support.
Silent Unity has begun to pilot a program that includes a small team of prayer associates in the Kansas City area trained “to work in a space-less, timeless reality.” Prayer associates have the ability to work from home with prayer calls directed to their location. They receive training to work as if they were seated in the Silent Unity prayer room.
Linda elaborated on the pilot program when she said, “It seeks to expand the potential of well-experienced and trained Unity pray-ers as it ensures coverage of peak call times.” Further, she described the incredible benefits derived by tapping into the expansive Unity field with prayer chaplains, ministers and LUTs (licensed Unity teachers) trained and ready to serve with their incredible prayer consciousness.
As technology improves and expands, new ways to innovate Unity’s prayer outreach are being explored. Silent Unity now serves those wanting prayer support with the U-Pray app and takes advantage of the Alexa voice service to respond to Daily Word prayer messages. Silent Unity holds the vision of real-time responses to prayer requests from their Facebook page and utilization of other social media platforms.
World Day of Prayer 2017
Linda spoke encouragingly about the preparation underway for World Day of Prayer. She and her team look forward to sharing their unfolding vision to Unity leaders so they can organize implementation within their local ministries.
Linda and the graphics team recently collaborated in a visioning session that elicited a theme of peace. Linda described their emphasis on creating peace in the midst of our challenges. “How can we really be anchored in peace in the midst of government and politics today? Or with young people’s struggles to balance work life and family? We hope to stimulate conversations that deal with the tough issues,” she clarified.
To support a greater multi-faith presence of prayer, Linda’s team will seek leaders in the Kansas City area who want to co-create a sacred, prayerful energy. Further, Unity Worldwide Ministries will actively play a role in the festivities since they are relocating their office to Unity Village, an ideal vantage point for collaboration. Linda expressed excitement about combining the old and the new when she said, “The sacred traditions will continue, while we also look for fresh ways to celebrate.”
Those who have yet to meet Linda will be delighted when you experience her in person and see that she bubbles with integrity and authenticity! It is no surprise that she included the word audacious to describe her leadership, aglow with spiritual zeal! If you are not familiar with her book, Divine Audacity, pick up a copy to illuminate your own spiritual gifts.
Those who have worked with her report that Linda enjoys an uncharacteristic mix of left and right brain qualities. She feels equally at home and joyful about engaging in the business of ministry as in the spiritual heart of ministry. “I love spreadsheets as much as I love preparing for and being spiritually oriented toward Sunday ritual, teaching and sharing the Unity message,” she said. While highly intuitive and insightful, Linda described herself as quite pragmatic. She expounded, “I look at what’s possible. What’s actionable? Realization isn’t real until I’ve lived it.”
With a prayer practice that no longer involves seeking, Linda describes a process in which she unzips herself to reveal her inner Truth. “Once I let go of God that’s deity, everything changed.” I move into a state of unifying and alignment. “My whole purpose in prayer is to be still. From the stillness I find inspiration and a realization of knowing what to do. I become still and silent on a regular basis.”
Although Linda still bumps up against old patterns, she disclosed her process to Truth: “I still require time to shift messages and awareness in my own brain. When I notice a thought that is not in alignment, I immediately use denial and affirmation. I don’t need to write a whole worksheet on it. I say, ‘That’s not true, so then what is the truth?’ ”
She continued to elaborate with an example, “I’m so tired. What is that? How can that be a reality when I am in the flow of limitless vitality? Let me remind myself of that. Let me stand in that unlimited flow of vitality. Old thoughts can roll off the tongue easily, and yet they are not true.”
Linda considers “Practicing the Presence” to be an essential part of her prayer life. She claims, “I am the Presence. Wherever I am, my thoughts of Truth get expressed out into my life. My self-mastery of thoughts and internal dialogue brings clarity and purposefulness. We can all be more vigilant with our thoughts. In a state of Oneness, we impact one another powerfully. We lift one another to the heights of Oneness consciousness.”
Linda expressed gratitude for four individuals and their profound spiritual influence:
- Her mother. While they differ in terms of religious beliefs; her mother’s mystical heart deeply inspires her.
- Her Kripalu yoga guru. Linda awakened spiritually as a 19-year-old woman. He sparked her thirst for spiritual growth and pursuits. Linda’s integration of the Eastern and Western philosophies led her to Unity, where she saw powerful potential.
- The late Rev Don Jennings from when he was at Unity of Omaha, Neb. His teaching style awakened Linda’s own inner questions and evoked a thrill of exploring truth. She felt inspired by his presence as a real human being and his moving meditation voice.
- The late Rev Sky St John, whom she called “our mutual beautiful friend.” With a generous heart that encouraged her without criticism, Sky drew out her unique gifts. Linda remains grateful that Sky saw her potential as a Unity leader before she did.
You may not see Linda at Kauffman Stadium this summer, but she remains open to cheering along with her Unity Village colleagues as they support the Kansas City Royals. Linda prefers climate-controlled arenas like the AT&T Center, home of her beloved NBA San Antonio Spurs.
While major life changes can bring surprises, often unwelcome, Linda delights in her newfound awareness. She experiences a deep awe when observing the beautiful energy of the Unity employees. She admires the remarkable devotion that they bring to their work and carry for Unity.