Our Founder / President Emerita
The Reverend Dr. Johnnie M. Colemon is the Founder of the Universal Foundation for Better Living and Christ Universal Temple in Chicago, Illinois. In the early 1950’s Dr. Colemon was told she had just six months to live. Refusing to accept this diagnosis as the truth, Dr. Colemon, at her mother’s encouragement, visited the Unity School to learn the principles of spiritual healing. Not only did she recover physically, but she also discovered a whole new approach to living. From the moment she was exposed to the teachings of Myrtle and Charles Fillmore, founders of the Unity Movement, Dr. Colemon dedicated herself to teaching all who would listen how to live a better life. In 1956, Dr. Colemon was ordained as a Unity Minister.
Dr. Colemon founded the Universal Foundation for Better Living in 1974, after serving in various positions in the Unity Movement for 18 years. Her mission has been to create a platform of equality where all men and women can explore their divine nature and express their spiritual gifts. She has served as the Minister-in-Chief of Christ Universal Temple, the largest New Thought congregation in history, for over 50 years. Dr. Colemon is an outstanding example for women in ministry, paving the way for such ministers as the Rev. Della Reese-Lett, the Rev. Dr. Barbara King, and the Rev. Dr. Mary Tumpkin. Dr. Colemon has also earned the support of many of her male colleagues including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Minister Louis Farrakhan, and the Rev. Frederick Eikerenkoetter (Rev. Ike).
Known as a visionary and a builder, Dr. Colemon is a noted pioneer in the 20th century New Thought Movement. The present facility of Christ Universal Temple is the third church office built under her leadership. This magnificent edifice stands at the corner of 119th and Ashland Avenue in South Side Chicago, where Dr. Colemon is also responsible for the construction of a restaurant banquet facility and an elementary school, the Johnnie Colemon Academy.
Throughout her ministry, Dr. Colemon has brought excitement and innovation to the teaching of the abundant living message. She is firmly committed to the demonstration of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others, and her “healing touch” has blessed thousands of people. Dr. Colemon’s methodology is chronicled in Open Your Mind and Be Healed (DeVorss) and in a series of booklets titled It Works if You Work It (Christ Universal Temple). The story of her early life and ministry is documented in Lessons in Living Abundantly: The Life and Ministry of the Reverend Dr. Johnnie M. Colemon (Universal Foundation for Better Living). Dr. Colemon’s courageous work to empower all people to live prosperous and healthy lives is cited in several surveys of American Religion.
The Reverend Dr. Mary A. Tumpkin is the second president in the 39-year history of the Universal Foundation for Better Living. Dr. Tumpkin is also the founding minister of the Universal Truth Center for Better Living (UTC), a U.F.B.L. affiliate in Miami Gardens, Florida. For the past 31 years, Dr. Tumpkin has carried out UTC’s mission to “empower people to develop their potential by awakening their divine nature.” The Center offers a wide variety of classes and services dedicated to the development of the whole person. Two independent non-profit UTC affiliates have emerged as a result of Dr. Tumpkin’s vision of empowerment and abundant living: the Universal Truth Community Development Corporation addresses the business development, housing, and educational needs of the surrounding community; and the Universal Academy, a not-for-profit child care and early learning center, accepts students ranging from three months old through first grade.
Also an acclaimed teacher, Bible scholar, and author, Dr. Tumpkin holds a Doctorate of Ministry degree from the Florida Center for Theological Studies. She has lectured throughout the United States, as well as in England, Canada, South America, and the Caribbean. She is known for her powerful, energetic, and often humorous preaching style and her ability to express the message of Jesus the Christ in a relevant, practical, and accessible way. Dr. Tumpkin serves on the Board of Directors of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion; the International New Thought Alliance; the Florida Center for Theological Studies; and the Westar Institute.