The headquarters of a spiritual movement that draws from an array of religious traditions is pulling up stakes in Los Angeles to settle in the Denver metro area.
United Centers for Spiritual Living, which until recently was known as the Church of Religious Science, is moving its international organization to a two-story building in a Genesee office park.
“A move of out of Los Angeles been discussed for the last 20 to 25 years,” said the Rev. Kathy Hearn, a church leader. “We wanted to be close to a church of our own, in an area of diversity and by a major airport.”
She added, with a laugh, “Property values had a little to do with it, too.”
The United Center’s largest member congregation is in Lakewood. Mile Hi Church has more than 5,500 members, said Karen Thomas, Mile Hi’s marketing director. On April 6 it will unveil a new, $10 million-plus sanctuary.
The denomination is part of the “New Thought” movement popularized in the 1930s by Ernest Holmes. The spiritual author wrote “The Science of Mind,” and incorporated ideas from many of the world’s religions.
Hearn said the name change, which was made official two years ago, widens the denomination’s appeal.
“The word ‘church’ can be off-putting to people because it’s a very Christian word, and we have a spirituality that actually reaches out to all denominations and backgrounds,” Hearn said. The name “Religious Science” was also getting people confused with Christian Science and Scientology, though it’s not affiliated with either, she said.
Each church group can use the name it wishes and Mile Hi Church, 9077 W. Alameda, opted to keep the word “church,” Thomas said.
Mile Hi Church has found breakout success using Holmes’ 80-year-old spiritual recipe.
Under the leadership of the Rev. Roger Teel, it’s grown 24 percent in three years and is recognized as a go-to venue for leaders in the spiritual self-help movement. Frequent speakers include Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson and Deepak Chopra.
Alan Arkin, the actor, gives repeat improvisation workshops at the church. He was in town last week and is scheduled to return in June: “He just resonates with what we teach, which is very accepting and open,” Thomas said.
The headquarters will move to Genesee about the end of June with five existing staff. Once here, it will hire up to 20 more people. Among the top administrators, only executive director Rev. Jerry Fetterly will move to Colorado. The others will commute, Hearn said.
Hearn said it’s likely some staff will start attending Mile Hi Church, which is one of seven affiliated churches in the metro area. But there’s no fear of the corporate staff imposing its will on the local church: “Mile Hi is working so well we wouldn’t try to mess with it on any level,” Hearn said.
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