Marlene Qualle leads the 9:00 a.m. Sunday Service.
She has been leading Unity services for over 25 years, first at Unity Christ Church in Golden Valley and moving to Unity South 1987.
It was early summer of 1976 and I was still searching for a “spiritual home.” In April I had completed a 35 day treatment program for a disease I did not know I had. I had entered St. Mary’s Treatment Center in March knowing that I drank too much and with some sense that my soul was pretty barren. However, I had no idea I was an alcoholic. The idea that I simply drank too much, was to change very quickly upon sharing my drinking history with the professionals. With compassion, kindness and a very firm attitude, I was informed that indeed I had a disease and it was named alcoholism.
As those 35 days passed, I learned that this was a disease that affects people physically, emotionally and spiritually. That we began to recover physically first, emotionally second and that in due time we would experience some kind of “spiritual awakening.” They were absolutely correct. I began to feel better physically, emotionally I was more present and grounded and that left the spiritual piece yet to be revealed to me. I was living in the western suburbs at the time and each Sunday morning, I would search out a church hoping to find something to fill this spiritual void I was experiencing.
Sunday after Sunday, I would listen to the minister, sing along with the songs, join in prayer, place my tithe in the offering basket say goodbye at the door and leave. When I got in my car the only voice I heard was my inner voice saying, “this is not what I am looking for. This does not resonate with me. I do not feel joy. I do not feel peace. I do not feel anything. And, I do not feel any more filled up spiritually now than when I walked through the doors of the church.” There are no mistakes! I confided in a friend of mine, telling of my search for a church community which would speak to my soul. He suggested I go to a service at a Unity church in Golden Valley. By the time we had this conversation, quite frankly, I was simply tired of searching and responded with a less than enthusiastic “I’ll check it out some day.”
A few weeks later, having given up on my search, I decided to go to Byerly’s on that particular Sunday morning and fill up on “food for my soul.” In my state of day dreaming about what I would get to eat, I made the wrong turn. The first place I could turn around was in a parking lot on top of a small hill with a red brick building sitting on the back of the lot. Interesting. There were children in the parking lot and then I saw the sign - Unity Christ Church. This must be the place my friend had been talking about. I rolled down the window of my car and asked a group of the children if church was going on. They responded affirmatively saying church had just started. I was less than excited about parking my car and going in to experience yet one more disappointment. Then, there was that inner voice again, “just go try it. You have nothing to lose but one more hour of your time. You can go to Byerly’s when it’s over.”
There are some events in our lives that have such an impact on our beings, they are difficult to describe. I knew in a matter of moments that what I was looking for had found me. It was exhilarating and every cell of my being knew beyond any doubt that this was the place where I belonged. At the same time, it was difficult to believe that a place of worship such as this even existed. My search was over. I was simultaneously overjoyed and overwhelmed.
I became a member, took classes, bought books from the library and met the most wonderful souls. One of the first books I read was “Lessons in Truth” by Emily Cady. My soul was thirsty as evidenced by the fact that I stayed up all night reading until I had completed the book. When I was done, I sat in amazement wondering where this material had been all my life. My next reading adventure was titled “The Revealing Word” by Unity’s co-founder, Charles Fillmore. The Revealing Word offers metaphysical meanings and uses of words and phrases that frequently appear in the Unity publications and many that appear in the Bible. Much to my surprise one of the words which appears in this publication is alcoholism – defined as follows: A diseased condition brought about by one who, thirsting for the true stimulation of Spirit, resorts to the excessive use of false stimulants, such as alcoholic beverages. (That was me.) More confirmation that I was definitely in the right place.
I was invited to lead a service on Sunday mornings titled “Spiritual Unfoldment” which I did for ten years before moving to Unity South where I have been doing a similar interactive service for more than twenty years. As I reflect on that first day I entered Unity Christ Church, I am always reminded of the thoughts which flooded my head, heart and soul. This was a place where I could be my authentic self without fear of being judged. It also reminds me of a Step in the 12 Step Program: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
Unity, the God of my understanding and my 12 Step Program have given me the gift of grace to live my life in sobriety for the past 38 years. I feel truly energized and blessed each week to be the spiritual leader of Unity South’s 9:00 a.m. Sunday Interactive Service. I lead the service with a strong interactive element, making each gathering a spiritual conversation among congregants. If you want more joy and abundance, or desire a positive and practical spiritual approach to life, come and experience Spiritual Unfoldment.
Visiting our spiritual home - the doors are open, hearts are accepting, arms are embracing, and everyone is welcome.
Marlene has been married to Dale Foley for over thirty-six years. She is a part of the Development team at The Fairview Foundation. Her background and interests include counseling, fundraising, yoga, spending time with family and community service.