Our History

Our History

Our center began as an unspoken intention in the hearts and minds of two dedicated Unity Truth students. That intention has manifested as a joyful group of Truth seekers meeting in a beautiful spiritual center on a hill in the rolling hills of Sussex County, New Jersey.

ground breaking

Vivian Wakeman (Our Benefactor) & Marty Mehalko

In 1985 Laura and Archie Scigliano, members of Unity of Montclair, started a Book Study Group in their living room. During the next 13 years other seekers of Truth were drawn to the group. Outgrowing the Scigliano’s living room, they met wherever space could be found, such as deserted theaters, public and private school libraries, the Olde Lafayette Village meeting space, and a Masonic Lodge.

Eventually, a few members of the group emerged to create a Steering Committee. During this time, Enid Schrier, a Licensed Unity Teacher, played an important role leading Unity classes. Enid and Dolly Ferrari, an aspiring Licensed Unity Teacher, were led to investigate what it would take to formalize their group.  Their recommendation was to become a church. Somewhere along the way, a woman named Vivien Wakeman became a member of the group.

By 1991, Dolores Vetter, another Licensed Unity Teacher, began facilitation of the study group as they moved into Harmony Lodge in Andover, New Jersey, and began holding Sunday Services. She served on a love-offering basis.

The Steering Committee became the first Board of Trustees when the group became a formally recognized non-profit religious organization known as Unity of Sussex County on Dec. 7, 1993. Finally, Dolores became a paid leader.

The group continued to grow, meeting at Harmony Lodge In Andover. The intention to have a permanent home was always in their hearts. One day in 1996, Vivien Wakeman announced that she was giving the group 10 acres of farmland in Lafayette, New Jersey along with funding making it possible to build a structure where those seeking to know the Truth could gather to celebrate.

groundbreaking for Unity of Sussex County

Groundbreaking ceremony

Ground was broken at 25 Mudcut Road in April 1997, heralding construction of the space we now occupy. In July 1998, the Rev. Ross Campbell was hired as our first full-time minister. On September 6, 1998 he led the first worship service in the new space. In April 1999 this center was recognized by the Association of Unity Churches with full membership.

Unity of Sussex County under construction

Unity of Sussex County under construction

The Rev. Janice Billera served us, first on an interim basis and later as permanent spiritual leader, from March 2005 through May 2020.

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