Unity on the River began in 1994 as a prayer and study group that met regularly in the home of Shipley Allinson in Amesbury, Massachusetts, a small town on the New Hampshire border.
She soon had a vision of becoming a Unity Minister and creating a Unity congregation in Greater Newburyport which encompasses Amesbury and 6 other towns and cities 35 miles north of Boston.
The people who were members of the study group became the first managing board of Unity of Greater Newburyport.
From that first study group in Shipley’s home to a congregation that celebrated every Sunday using, at first, a meeting room at a local bank, then the local Masonic Temple auditorium to manage the greater number of people who were attracted to the Unity message.
As the congregation grew, and Ms. Allinson became the Reverend Shipley Allinson, Unity of Greater Newburyport purchased a new home, located on the Powwow River in Amesbury, Massachusetts. And Unity of Greater Newburyport became Unity on the River to honor this new location. The community continued to grow, and additional space was purchased to accommodate its growth.
The Unity message hit home with many individuals and families. There was a wonderful music ministry led by Curtis Jerome Haynes, a popular local Blues and Roots musician. We soon had and continue to have a 3- or 4-piece band every Sunday and a choir of Unity Singers and often special guest soloist.
When Curtis retired, he was succeeded by Ken Clark with his Hammond B3 organ and Maura Lynch a talented singer and songwriter. Now, Meg Rayne, a singer/songwriter, is our music ministry leader. She continues the strong tradition of inspirational music drawing from many genres, including folk, rock, blues, jazz and more.
Children were ever present at UOTR. A Children’s Education ministry was created and held classes and cared for very young kids while parents participated in services.
Unity on the River is a very strong voice of Unity Principles for the region. Rev. Allinson and her team of staff and Board members continued to manage and grow the congregation for almost 20 years when she retired in 2015.
Following Rev. Allinson, Rev. Ogun Holder became the Spiritual Leader. The congregation was led into the modern age of social media by Rev. Ogun's knowledge of how these tools can reach out to congregants. He brought innovative ways to increase dialogue. He continued to strengthen the musical ministry that is a powerful part of UOTR's tradition.
Rev. Ogun's journey then took him to Washington D.C. in 2019 where he now ministers primarily through podcasts, social media and regularly speaks at Unity Churches in the region.
UOTR is now led by a team of rotating speakers including Rev. Allinson and five other spokespeople of the Unity Principles. With the contraction of the congregation during the pandemic the property was sold to insure the congregation’s long-term viability.
UOTR now shares a beautiful facility in Newburyport with a Jewish congregation that prays on Saturdays, a perfect partnership!
A new spiritual leader is now being sought to take the reins and lead us through the next chapter of Unity on the River.