Rev. Dr. Mary Tumpkin President of Universal Foundation for Better Living
Rev. Dr. Mary earned her Doctorate degree at the South Florida Center for Theological Studies in Miami, Florida. She most recently served in the dual role as President of the Universal Foundation For Better Living and Senior Minister of the Universal Truth Center. She was a published author lecturing throughout North America and the Caribbean, and was highly regarded as a biblical scholar.
According to Mary Tumpkin, preaching was in her blood. Her grandmother was a preacher, and Mary herself began preaching in her Detroit, Michigan, church at the tender age of 13. Though her minister encouraged her calling, she resisted. She attended Wayne State University and went into banking. Later, she and her husband migrated to Miami, Florida.
Mary stayed in banking and went back to school, completing a bachelor's degree at Florida International University and then a Doctor of Ministry degree at the South Florida Center of Theological Studies. She began a church in her home and, in 1982, made the jump to full-time church work when she founded the Universal Truth Center for Better Living in 1982.
Rev. Dr. Mary Tumpkin brilliantly guided this New Thought institution of empowerment, devotion, and commitment to better living. According to her vision, the Center is dedicated to develop and empower the whole person. Under her leadership the Center has evolved from a few members meeting in rented hotel space, to construction of a $1.8 million, 22,000 square foot facility that includes the sanctuary, a community room, bookstore, Community Development Corporation, adult education classrooms and staff offices. In addition, the Center houses an independent, non-profit affiliate that Mary also started called the Universal Academy, a not-for-profit childcare and early learning center.
Mary was a leader in the worldwide "New Thought" religious movement, which incorporates beliefs from a number of religious traditions, including the Unity School of Christianity, the Science of Mind, and the Church of Christian Science. She was elected the second president of the Universal Foundation for Better Living (UFBL), an association of New Thought churches founded by Chicago religious leader Johnnie Colemon, Mary's spiritual mentor. Under Mary's leadership, the UFBL established the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary in Miami Gardens in 2001.
As much as we will miss her, she will always be present with us where love, justice, nonviolence, and compassion prevail.