- Faith & Family
When Reverend Mary Ann Tumpkin founded the Universal Truth Center for Better Living in 1982, she wanted to provide a new worship experience for other like minded Christians.
The Miami Gardens-based church, which is a member of the Universal Foundation for Better Living, [UFBL]Inc., is part of the growing denomination of worshippers simply known as ‘New Thought Christians.’
Among some of their central beliefs according to Tumpkin are the “belief that Heaven and Hell are states of being and not a destination that one goes to when one dies; God does not will the suffering of anybody; God wills for [people] to be prosperous, to be healthy and to be happy and that God is within every individual.
She further explained, “We desire to help people learn to do anything that they want to do that is in keeping with the commandments of God.”
Although the she had been raised in a traditional faith and had been preaching in churches since she was 13, the transition to the New Thought denomination was not difficult for Tumpkin.
“Many of the principals that I had been raised to believe in were being espoused by the [UFBL] and also I liked the way our founder was empowering women to lead to be pastors, to be the CEO of the church,” she explained.
The New Thought Christian denomination has attracted a diverse following including such celebrities such as motivational speaker, Les Brown.
However, Tumpkin believes that some people misunderstand what exactly the denomination’s beliefs are.
“Sometimes we’re referred to as a cult because we have these metaphysical beliefs,” she said. “And that’s okay because we’re here for people to find out that we are not a cult, but we are just here helping people become all that they can be.”
Meanwhile, Tumpkin pointed out that all of the church’s teachings and principles are biblically based.
“We preach a practical Christianity and we use the stories and things that are in the Bible and interpret them so it gives us an understanding of what is going on in ourselves,” she explained.
Currently, the Universal Truth Center has approximately 1,000 members who are largely of Caribbean-American and Black-American descent. The church now has an active Outreach Ministry, Liturgical Dance Ministry, Stewardship Ministry, and a group for senior citizens called the Golden Eagles. The sanctuary even has its own bookstore.
Currently celebrating their church’s 30th anniversary, guest speakers will be featured at every week until early November. On Saturday, April 21st, the church will be hosting a four hour workshop teaching participants how to pray with purpose.
“I’m so surprised that 30 years have gone by,” said Universal Truth Center’s pastor. “God has been extremely good and we are thankful for that.”
By Kaila Heard