Doing God’s Business in the World

The Universal Foundation for Better Living (UFBL) is an international association of Bible-based New Thought Christian churches, centers, and study groups dedicated to spreading the abundant life teachings of Jesus the Christ.

The UFBL was founded on the spiritual principles of healing by the Reverend Dr. Johnnie Colemon who, in 1952, was diagnosed with a terminal disease and given only six months to live. The words, “God is my health, I can’t be sick,” from a poem by Hannah Moore Kohaus, sent shock waves through her mental/emotional system. This ultimately led her to Unity School of Practical Christianity, where she began studying universal spiritual principles and laws, the application of which ultimately led to her healing.

Dr. Colemon was ordained as a Unity Minister in 1956 and set up her first ministry, Christ Unity Temple, in Chicago, Illinois. She later withdrew from the Association of Unity Churches to become an independent church. Dr. Colemon renamed her church Christ Universal Temple and also founded the UFBL in 1974.

The New Thought teachings of the UFBL offer Truth students tools to study and interpret the Bible allegorically, apply its ancient wisdom to everyday life, and reconnect with the indwelling presence and power of God.

UFBL Presidents

Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon

The Reverend Dr. Johnnie M. Colemon, Founder of the Universal Foundation for Better Living and Christ Universal Temple in Chicago, Illinois, was a pioneer in spiritual healing and New Thought ministry. Diagnosed with a terminal illness in the early 1950s, she sought spiritual healing at the Unity School, inspired by her mother. She not only recovered but embraced a new way of living, influenced by Unity founders Myrtle and Charles Fillmore. Ordained as a Unity Minister in 1956, Dr. Colemon dedicated herself to teaching the principles of better living.

In 1974, she founded the Universal Foundation for Better Living to promote spiritual equality and growth. For over 50 years, she led Christ Universal Temple, the largest New Thought congregation ever. Dr. Colemon was a trailblazer for women in ministry, mentoring leaders like Rev. Della Reese-Lett and Rev. Dr. Barbara King. Her work earned the respect of male leaders, including Rev. Jesse Jackson and Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Dr. Colemon also established a banquet facility and the Johnnie Colemon Academy. Her teachings are documented in “Open Your Mind and Be Healed” and “It Works if You Work It: Jubilee Edition.” She transitioned in December 2014.

Rev. Dr. Mary Tumpkin

The Reverend Dr. Mary A. Tumpkin is the founding minister of the Universal Truth Center for Better Living (UTC), in Miami Gardens, Florida. For over 30 years, Dr. Tumpkin carried out UTC’s mission to “empower people to develop their potential by awakening their divine nature.”

In 1995, the Reverend Dr. Johnnie Colemon appointed Dr. Tumpkin to succeed her as the second president of the Universal Foundation for Better Living, an international association of New Thought churches and study groups founded by Dr. Colemon in 1974. Under her leadership, she established the UFBL’s teaching arm, the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, and expanded the organization’s presence in the Caribbean.

Also, an acclaimed teacher, Bible scholar, and author, Dr. Tumpkin held a Doctorate of Ministry degree from the Florida Center for Theological Studies. She lectured throughout the United States, as well as in England, Canada, South America, and the Caribbean. She was 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. In addition to the UFBL, Dr. Tumpkin served 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.

Dr. Tumpkin made her transition in November 2013.

Rev. Dr. Sheila McKeithen

Reverend Dr. Sheila McKeithen is the current President of the Universal Foundation for Better Living (UFBL). She assumed leadership of the foundation in January 2015 and is the 3rd President in the over 40-year history of UFBL, succeeding her late mentor, the Reverend Dr. Mary A. Tumpkin, founder and Senior Minister of Universal Truth Center in Miami Gardens, Florida. She is also the Senior Minister of the Universal Centre of Truth in Kingston, Jamaica. Dr. McKeithen defied the odds in 1986 when doctors assured her that she had less than six days to live. After her healing experience, she achieved her dream of becoming an attorney at law, and served as a local bar association president, board member for Legal Aid of Broward County and the Florida Law Related Association.

At the height of her legal career, when she served as an Assistant Attorney General in Florida, Dr. McKeithen was ordained and assigned to minister in Kingston, Jamaica for a short six-month assignment. That six month assignment turned into nearly 20 years as she continues to service as senior minister of The Universal Centre of Truth for Better Living.

Rev. Sheila, as she is affectionately called, believes that her mission is to be a vehicle for hope and healing. She lives in humble surrender to the truth that her life work comes through her, but it originates out of the depths of Divine Spirit. Her objective for the Universal Foundation for Better Living is to lead the organization into a process of transformation and exponential growth while spreading the life-changing message of New Thought Christianity by planting UFBL ministry expressions around the world.