The hilltop church just outside of town, Unity of Wimberley, has hired a temporary minister for the coming year.
Rev. Ellen Debenport’s first Sunday will be April 5. The church currently draws about 100 people on Sundays, plus several dozen children, and offers activities throughout the week.
Debenport was previously senior minister at the 1,000-member Unity Church of Dallas and resigned at the end of 2007 to write. Her first book, The Five Principles: A Guide to Practical Spirituality, is to be published in a few weeks.
Coming to Wimberley is “a God thing,” Debenport said. “I had finished my book and was thinking about going back to work somewhere, and the church needed a temporary minister. It was a great match. Besides, I’ve always wanted to live in the Hill Country.”
Unity of Wimberley is just 5 years old and meets in the former White Wings Ranch, which was a hunting lodge and B&B. The grounds, featuring an outdoor labyrinth built by the congregation, overlook a wilderness preserve.
Debenport’s book is about the five spiritual principles that are the basis of Unity’s teachings. They are:
1. God is all there is, present everywhere and absolute good.
2. Human beings are expressions of God and inherently good.
3. Our thoughts have the power to create our reality.
4. Prayer and meditation align humans with the divine.
5. These principles must be put into action.
“They are universal principles, taught by every major religion for thousands of years,” Debenport said. “Unity certainly doesn’t claim them as original. But I haven’t found a life situation where they don’t apply.”
The Unity spiritual movement began in 1889 and now has about 1,000 churches and study groups around the world. Unity headquarters in Lee’s Summit, MO, publishes Daily Word, a small book of daily devotionals, and is home to Silent Unity, which each year answers 2-million calls and letters asking for prayer.
Before she was ordained by the Association of Unity Churches International in 1999, Debenport worked for nearly 25 years as a news reporter. She covered everything from murder trials to sports scandals for United Press International in Little Rock, AR; San Antonio, and New Orleans. Later she was political editor for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, covering state and national campaigns and also working out of the Washington, DC, bureau.
Debenport was born in San Antonio, grew up in Odessa, and has a journalism degree from Baylor University.