History of Unity Church of Modesto

Unity Church of Modesto began on February 4, 1930 with a series of lectures given by E. V. Ingraham from the Unity School of Christianity of Kansas City, Missouri.  Lectures titled "What is Christianity and Who Is Christian" were held from February 9 through February 14 at the Hotel Hughson in downtown Modesto, California. The lectures were on how to make your prayers effective and to awaken your own Divine Genius for successfully meeting the problems of everyday life. The population of Modesto at this time was 13,842.

Edith Lilly, who was registered with the Unity School of Christianity, served as the first Spiritual Leader of the Modesto Unity Center for 16 years from April 1, 1930 to September 1, 1946. Edith was instrumental in forming and leading the first Unity study groups which met in congregational homes and rented halls.


1931 January    A Unity study group on "Lessons in Truth: A course of twelve lessons in Practical Christianity" by H. Emily Cady met on Friday afternoons in the home of Miss Ida Durham.


 1936    First Unity Center was opened at 107 Hackberry Avenue with open meetings on Friday afternoons. Meetings were also held in members private homes with Edith Lilly as Spiritual Leader.       


1938    Unity “Attributes of God” class was held at the local McHenry Library and was given by leader Dorothy L. Stevens.


1946    Nellie Burford was sent from Unity School of Christianity, Lee’s Summit, Missouri to become the Spiritual Leader for the Modesto Unity Center and served the community for two years.

First Unity Church of Modesto

1951   Alma Smith Ladd, from the Unity School of Christianity,  became the first ordained minister of Modesto Unity Center at 316 Hackberry Avenue and served the church for four years. Pictured is Ann Evans who attended as a child with her aunt Sarah Duddy. The church was open six days a week and held Bible study classes, Healing Principles classes, prayer group meetings, and study groups on Charles Fillmore’s book "Talks on Truth."  

December 15, 1951  Modesto Unity Center became incorporated with Unity School of Christianity, Lee's Summit, Missouri. From that day forward we are known as Unity Church of Modesto. Reverend Alma Smith Ladd minister.  

1960 Coffee Road Unity Church

1963    Property was purchased at 1308 Coffee Road for $20,000 dollars. It was an old farm house and needed remodeling. Reverend Carol Romberg was our senior minister. The church family grew and the mortgage was paid off 10 years later. The property sold in August, 1991 for $270,000 dollars.

1991    After the sale of the Coffee Road property, with Reverend Joyce Mech as our minister, Unity Church of Modesto held services at several rented locations for four years; A small store front at 520 Scenic Drive and a modern store front at 180 Leveland, Suite #4, until September, 1992. 

1992 McHenry Ave, Modesto, CA

1992 September    We leased and remodeled an empty bank building at 2525 McHenry Avenue. Unity Church of Modesto stayed at this location for two years until the lease was up.

1993 January    Reverend David Smith was the minister through September 1995.

1995 Unity Church of Modesto

1995 October    Property was purchased for $355,000 dollars at 2467 Veneman Avenue. Operating without a minister and with true “Love in Action,” our dedicated congregation labored to renovate the property to make it into the spiritual home we now enjoy. The first service was held on January 28, 1996 given by interim Lay Teacher, Jeff Weller, of the Sacramento Unity Church.

1996 July    Reverend Larry Schellink began his first ministry at Unity Church of Modesto. He and his wife, Rev. Denese, were our wonderful Ministerial Leaders until June 2001.

2001 December    Reverend Bob Wasner of Unity Association, became our interim Minister through May, 2002, while the board of Trustees interviewed potential Ministerial candidates.

2002  May 1st   Reverend Paul Hart became our minister. He and his lovely wife, Corri, remained with us until February, 2005.

2005 June    Reverend Kathryn Brenson was our full time minister until March 1, 2006.

2006  November 19th Reverend Ralph Grzecki's first service at Unity Church of Modesto. Later his lovely wife, Reverend Carolyn became our co-minister. They ministered until August 2008.

2008  November 1st    Reverend Paul Patterson became our Spiritual Leader. He retired in 2017.

2018 Rev. Cindy Farris became our Spiritual Leader and left the church 2019.

Ministry Timeline for Unity Church of Modesto

Start Date   End Date   Name                          Position                    
04/1930   09/1946   Edith Lilly Spiritual Leader
09/1946   11/1948   Nellie Buford Spiritual Leader
04/1951   08/1955   Alma Ladd Senior Minister
08/1955   08/1956   Lucy Stringer Senior Minister
08/1956   11/1962   Russell Kemp Senior Minister
12/1962   12/1964   Carol Romburg Senior Minister
12/1964   11/1967   Elizabeth Burgle Senior Minister
08/1968   09/1975   Ruth Holden Senior Minister
03/1976   03/1980   Gary Redfern  Senior Minister
02/1981   11/1982    Roger Tiffany Senior Minister
07/1983   06/1985   William King Senior Minister
06/1985   01/1988   William Keller Senior Minister
05/1985   07/1988   Ruth Holden Assoc. Minister
09/1988   09/1992   Joyce Mech Senior Minister
09/1992   01/1993   None Guest Speakers
01/1993   09/1995   R. David Smith Senior Minister
09/1995   08/1996   None Guest Speakers
08/1996   07/2001   Lawrence R. Schellink Senior Minister
07/2000   07/2001   Denese Schellink Assoc. Minister
07/2001   12/2001   None Guest Speakers
12/2001   05/2002   Robert Wasner Interim Minister
05/2002   02/2005   Paul Hart Senior Minister
06/2005   03/2006   Kathryn Brenson Senior Minister
11/2006   09/2008   Ralph Grzecki Senior Minister
11/2006   09/2008   Carolyn Grzecki Assoc. Minister
11/2008   7/2017   Paul Patterson Spiritual Leader


  Cindy Farris Spiritual Leader


 Find out more about Our Minister and the History of Unity Worldwide Ministries.

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Unity Church of Modesto

2467 Veneman Ave.

Modesto, CA  95356




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