Communal – After 1960
Communal – After 1960
Aquarian Research Foundation
5620 Morton St. Philadelphia, PA 19144
The Aquarian Research Foundation, an outgrowth of the work and vision of Arthur Rosenblum, combines Christian communalism, and intuitive insights with a scientific approach to the future of the world. A product of 20 years of communal living with the Hutterian Brethren (Society of Brothers) and other groups, Rosenblum formed the foundation in 1969. The goal of the research is to assist a new age of love to come to the planet and thus avoid the chaos as present systems decline.
In order to do the research, which includes life in community, the total commitment of the individuals is required. The foundation's intimate communal structure allows members to help each other with personal problems that make people afraid to do something different. Drugs and smoking are excluded.
According to Rosenblum, God is the universe. Just as matter may be seen as concentrated energy, so energy may be seen as concentrated spirit (love). God and the universe consist of love, energy, and matter, and are the same entity. The "kingdom of God" is the rulership of love.
As an expression of the foundation's commitment, in 1986 Rosemblum traveled to Moscow, where he met with Prof. Georgi Arbatov, a high-level Soviet advisor on American affairs. The object of the meeting was to seek new ways of ending the arms race. As a result of the meeting, Rosenblum sponsored a tour by Soviet researcher Dr. Peter Gladkov, a scholar of American contemporary communal societies. It is Rosenblum's opinion that communal societies work and have worked in a way that demonstrates the basis of a new social order, solving today's social problems through a loving approach. Rosenblum believes that most social problems are caused by people's unhappiness due to lack of loving relationships with others.
Membership: Not reported.
Remarks: One longterm project pursued by the foundation has been the exploration of methods of natural birth control. With interest begun by Rosenblum's becoming aware of the research of Dr. Eugen Jonas of Czechoslovakia on the relation of female fertility and astrological cycles, the foundation has continued to update the research and report experiences of women using the method in a book currently in its sixth edition.
Rosenblum, Art. Aquarian Age or Civil War? Philadelphia, PA: Aquarian Research Foundation, 1970.
——. The Natural Birth Control Book. Philadelphia, PA: Aquarian Research Foundation, 1984.
——. Unpopular Science. Philadelphia, PA: Running Press, 1974.
Bride of Christ Church
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Bride of Christ Church began in 1980 in Las Vegas, Nevada, following the ordination of Thomas Clyde Smith, Jr. by Dr. G.J. Soriano, founder of the Faith Restoration Center, a Philippine Islands Christian organization. According to Smith, in 1965 he was convicted of molesting his nine-year-old daughter. Following his jail sentence he spent a year in a mental hospital. While there he had a conversion experience and became a Christian. He later decided to become a minister and start the church. Smith advocated a form of what he termed Christian socialism, which included communal living. After four years in Nevada, he moved with the members of the church to rural Oregon.
The Bride of Christ Church existed quietly until 1987 when there was an attempt to kidnap and deprogram a church member. The attempt was foiled when the deprogrammers were caught breaking into property at the church headquarters and arrested. A year later Smith invited Lawrence Singleton to join the group on its farm near Azalea. Singleton had been convicted in California for a particularly heinous crime, raping a 15-year-old girl and severing both her arms. Smith said he identified with Singleton, who reportedly had repented for his crime and become religious during his years in prison. However, public outrage prevented Singleton's moving in with the church.
The Church is organized communally. Men work in two groupowned businesses to support the members. Women work at the center in Azalea.
Membership: Not reported.
Tims, Dana. "Azalea Sect Riles Region."Oregonian(April 7, 1988).
Christ's Household of Faith
355 Marshall Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102-1898
Christ's Household of Faith is a large urban Christian communal group which dates to 1965 when the group's founder and pastor, Donald Alsbury, was suspended from the ministry of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Alsbury had been the pastor of a small church serving the communities of Giese and McGrath, Minnesota. A conflict arose in the church over a woman who was seeking membership in the church. Some of the lay people, citing her bad reputation, wanted Alsbury to condemn her from the pulpit. Alsbury said the congregation should encourage her to repent and join the congregation. This conflict became the occasion for other issues to emerge. Following Alsbury's suspension, the majority of the congregation left the synod and established worship services at Mora, Minnesota. In 1970 the congregation was joined by a group of approximately 75 people who had moved to Minnesota from St. Helen's, Oregon, under the leadership of Vernon Harms, an old friend and colleague of Alsbury's.
The Harms' group joined the older group as it was in the midst of an intensive period of Bible study and selfreflection characterized by the members' attempt to share all of their past sins and to begin to divest themselves of their material goods in expectation of Christ's second coming. At one point in 1970, the business at which many of the group were employed burned, and the group left Mora and resettled in St. Paul. They found temporary lodging in houses in one of the poorer sections of the city. They survived by developing a maintenance fix-up business, living off of the abundance of a throw-away culture, and living frugally. In 1976 they were able to purchase an abandoned convent which became the group's new home. They started a school for their children, and much as The Farm did in rural Tennessee, have prospered.
Leadership in the community is invested in Alsbury, Harms, and a group of elders. A finance committee makes key business decisions. All money earned from outside the community (in the community-managed business) is put into a common pool from which major purchases are made. Each member receives a monthly allowance. A farm in a nearby rural community is used for the production of food and provides both employment and a learning experience for the youth during the summer. There is a strong emphasis on the nuclear family as a working unit within the community as a whole.
Sunday is a day of worship and fellowship during which the entire community is together.
Membership: In 1995 the group had approximately 500 members, of which 300 were minors.
Church of Jesus Christ at Armageddon
14724 184th NE
Arlington, WA 98223
The Church of Jesus Christ at Armageddon was founded by Love Israel in 1968. According to its charter, it was established "to fulfill the New Testament as revealed to Love Israel in the form of visions, dreams, and revelations received by members of the Church. The members of the Church have all had heavenly visions without which we would never understand our purpose on this earth or our relationship with each other." The name of the church is based on Revelation 16:16 where Armageddon is mentioned as the gathering place of the end-time. The members of the church refer to themselves as the Love Family, drawn together out of the world and recognizable by their love for one another. They believe that their relationships are eternal, and that through their love and commitment to one another, they create the opportunity for Christ to express his personality in them.
New members contribute all their possessions upon joining and begin a new life with a new name. Since Israel is the name of God's people, Israel is the surname of all members of the church. A biblical name or a "virtue" name such as "Abishai" or "Honesty" is assumed as a first name and former names are abandoned. Although they live in traditional family units or expanded households, they consider themselves married to one another in the universal marriage of Jesus Christ and are not bound by "worldly traditions of matrimony." The father/mother is respected as the "head" of each household and represents his/her household in the family government. The affairs of the larger family are governed through close communication and frequent informal meetings.
The church sees itself as being the beneficiary of the Old Testament promises to Israel and committed to practicing the beliefs and lifestyle of the New Testament as created by Jesus Christ. Rules are replaced by love, agreement, moderation, and common sense. Eating and drinking are considered sacramental, with the understanding that all food and drink are the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Water baptism represents the opportunity to be freed from the past and become a new personality that has an eternal place within the Body of Christ.
During the 1970s the church enjoyed a steady growth, reaching a residential population of around 300 members by 1983. Their unorthodox appearance and lifestyle made them the object of considerable controversy and a target for anti-cultists and deprogrammers. For a short while, they participated as "observers" in the Church Council of Greater Seattle. Their headquarters was a handmade mansion on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill, surrounded by a compact "village" of residences, gardens, and shops. They maintained a 24-hour Inn, where guests were freely housed and fed, and from which food from their farms and fishing boat were distributed to needy neighbors. They operated numerous small businesses and maintained satellite communities in several places throughout Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii.
In 1984, an internal power struggle and a lawsuit by a former member severely disrupted the church community and resulted in the relocation of the core members to a 300-acre ranch near Arlington, Washington. This ranch has become the new headquarters for Love Israel and the church, and provides a cultural center for those members who remain dispersed throughout the region. Here, and in the other small satellite communities, members continue to live and work together to fulfill their original vision of harmonious interdependence.
The church defines its continuing ministry as follows: "Our purpose is to reform our relationships and our patterns of relating until they conform to the truth of our Oneness in Jesus Christ. We understand that this is how we can best help fulfill Christ's purpose on this earth. The fruits of our labors are the comfort, the happiness, and the harmony which we achieve with one another in our daily lives together. WHEN THE SEERS COME TOGETHER, THEN THE WATCHERS WILL SEE."
Membership: In 2002, the group reported approximately 100 members.
Remarks: Recently, a major split (following several years of internal dispute) was being reported. Some predicted the end of the Church, following intense criticism of Love Israel. It appears that a smaller core of his following is reorganizing and continuing at the group's major compound in Seattle.
Allen, Steve. Beloved Son. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1982.
Israel, Love. Love. Seattle: Church of Armageddon, 1971.
Circle of Friends
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Circle of Friends is a small New Age communal group built around the teachings of George Jurcsek. Born in Hungary around 1920, Jurcsek migrated to America in 1950. Over the years he absorbed a variety of Eastern and occult teachings from the writings of Rudolf Steiner and Edgar Cayce and a trip to India. He came to believe that a catastrophe would overwhelm the earth in the near future and that civilization would end. Jurcsek began lecturing in the late 1960s. The Circle was formed in 1973 and at its height in the late 1970s had approximately 75 members. Members of the group believe they will emerge as leaders in the New Age.
Soon after its formation, the Circle came under attack by anticult groups for its intensive lifestyle. The charges focused on the communal life, requiring members to live on a minimal allowance (above their room and board) and pool their money for investments for the group. There were also charges that Jurcsek manipulated the lives of people, dictating to whom they should be wed. Several deprogrammings occurred with mixed success. In 1979 Jurcsek dropped out of sight, reappearing several years later in central North Carolina, where the group had purchased property.
The Circle encountered severe problems a few years later when Jurcsek and Mary O'Rourke, one of the group's leaders, were indicted for fraud involving student loans. Both were convicted in 1988 and given seven-year prison sentences. Both appealed their convictions; Jurcsek's appeal is still under adjudication. Meanwhile, O'Rourke has renounced the group, withdrawn her appeal, and applied for a lessened sentence.
Membership: There were approximately 50 members at last report.
Remarks: Information on the Circle of Friends has been difficult to attain. The group itself has kept a low profile and published little. Media coverage has centered on the claims of former members, most of whom have associated with the anti-cult network, and have adopted their terminology. Hence, it is difficult to objectively assess their testimony.
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 2006-1846
Alternate Address: International Headquarters: World Services, Postfach 241, Zurich, Switzerland 8021.
The Family, an international network of Christian communes, was founded in 1968, originally going by the name Teens for Christ, but later dubbed the Children of God (COG) by the media. They were one of the original Jesus People groups. The Children of God originated from the West Coast ministry of David Berg, a former Christian and Missionary Alliance minister. From 1953 to 1965 Berg had been associated with Fred Jordan's Soul Clinic, an independent ministry founded in 1944. Teen Challenge, a national youth ministry which had been established by Assemblies of God minister David Wilkerson, turned over to Berg's teenage children the use of their Christian coffeehouse in Huntington Beach, California, known as the Light Club.
The work of the Light Club, ministering primarily to surfers and hippies, changed directions dramatically in 1969. Berg, agreeing with revelations received by other members that California was threatened by an earthquake, decided the club members should leave. Berg and those who chose to follow him split into three groups and crisscrossed North America for eight months, an event which the group compared to the Exodus of the Hebrew children under Moses. During this period the group acquired the name Children of God (COG) and Berg became known as Moses David.
In early 1970 the COG accepted the hospitality of the Soul Clinic, and Jordan gave them the use of the abandoned Soul Clinic ranch near Thurber, Texas. Shortly afterwards he also granted them the use of the Soul Clinic mission building in downtown Los Angeles, as well as a property he owned near Coachella, California. The membership grew, adding converts encountered on the streets of various cities and many former drug users. Slowly, from the small group around Berg, a disciplined community emerged. By 1971 the COG had become a national organization. Over the next few years they became well known for their public witnessing activity which occasionally included demonstrations involving an element of apocalyptic warning.
During the early 1970s the life of the Children of God was altered by the growing opposition of the parents of the youthful members (most in their late teens and early 20s). Many of these people had disappeared on the streets only to emerge after a period of isolation from their family as a missionary for the Children of God. Some parents were opposed to Berg's teachings and communal practices and claimed that COG was a destructive cult. The parents organized FREECOG (Free Our Children from the Children of God), the first of the contemporary anti-cult groups. As pressure built against the COG in the United States and new mission opportunities opened in Europe through the mid-1970s, the membership largely left the United States. Though some members remained in America, all visible signs of their presence disappeared.
In 1976 Berg introduced a new ministry he had been testing to the now large, scattered group. He suggested that the female members of the groups (most then in their mid-20s) begin "flirty fishing," to use their feminine charms to allure men and set up an opportunity for witnessing God's love to others. In the most extreme cases, such activity could, and frequently did, lead to the women having sexual relationships with the men, the "fish," and developing long-term relationships with them.
In 1978 the organization went through the first of several radical organizational changes, the RNR (Reorganization, Nationalization, Revolution). As the organization had grown and spread internationally, a strong hierarchical system had been put in place headed largely by Berg's own children and their spouses. Berg became aware of a variety of leadership abuses, including the imposition of unauthorized tithes going into some leaders' pockets. Thus in 1978 he removed all of the leaders and the organization moved into a period of organizational anarchy. Many members left or dropped their communal lifestyle. The name Children of God was abandoned and the group became known as the Family of Love, a short time later shortened to The Family. The chaos of the RNR only abated in the spring of 1981 with what was termed the Fellowship Revolution, in which a semblance of order began to be restored. A new structure arose out of the reestablished communal homes: local area fellowships, district fellowships, greater area fellowships and national fellowships. Shepherds were elected to serve at each level of administration.
During the RNR period the organizational chaos was accompanied by a liberalization of sexual mores and many adult members–especially those who continued to live in communal homes and in those cities with a concentration of members–had multiple sexual contacts. Following the Fellowship Revolution, herpes began to spread through the group and sexual contacts were limited. Later, the "flirty fishing" ministry was curtailed, not only because of problems of disease but due to the need to divert attention to the care of a growing number of children.
Doctrine: The Family developed out of the evangelical Protestantism of the Jesus People movement. It differed from other Jesus People on three points. First Father David, as he was affectionately known in the movement, noted that he had contacts with spirit entities, especially with one named Abrahim the Gypsy King. Other evangelicals condemned the group for practicing (or tolerating) spiritism. Secondly, the group identified Father David as the prophet of the endtime and associated him with the "David" referred to in Ezekiel 34 and 37, Hosea 3, and Jeremiah 30. Thirdly, the COG advocated "forsaking all" and dropping out of the "system" in order to live a communal lifestyle dedicated to God's service.
Through the 1970s Father David also developed the concept of the Law of Love as the over-arching ethical principle, based on the Gospel of Matthew 22:36-40. The Law of Love views love as the great commandment that overrides and frees individuals from the strictures of the Mosaic Law. The Law of Love was articulated as a means to undergird the practice of flirty fishing, seen as a sacrificial activity to bring people to the saving truth of the gospel, but also applied to all sexual relationships. Sexual contacts were condoned among consenting adults as long as they met the conditions of love (unselfishness) and did not fall into mere lust.
The developing doctrinal perspective has recently been formally presented in "Our Statement of Faith." The Family follows the Evangelical Protestant consensus believing in the Bible as the inspired Word of God, the Trinity, and salvation through Jesus Christ received by faith in him and receiving him into our hearts. Once saved, the believer will be kept by God forever. The Family is Pentecostal and believes in the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a baptism of love that empowers the believer. Speaking in tongues does not necessarily accompany the baptism, but baptized believers do manifest the gifts of the Spirit (such as healing, miracle working, prophecy, and speaking in tongues). Believers should also manifest the fruits of the spirit as noted in Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance). The Family believes in a literal creation (as depicted in the Book of Genesis), angels, Satan, divine healing, and the soon end of the world. They are opposed to abortion.
Family members gather for worship daily in the morning and often in the evening. Periodically, days are set aside for prayer and self-examination. The ordinance of the Lord's Supper is held regularly, usually every Sunday evening. A special candlelight service is held on New Year's Eve, the most liturgical of The Family's worship life.
Family members live communally, and with very few exceptions do not hold secular jobs. Most children are schooled at the communal homes. Evangelism is seen as the member's primary calling and vocation. Thus their daily life is spent in witnessing to their faith and in "provisioning," gathering resources (food, clothing, shelter, finances, etc.) to support the evangelical ministry. Since most people reached by their evangelism are not ready for communal living, converts are generally referred to other evangelical churches.
Organization: The Family is built around communal homes usually comprising several families and a few unmarried adults. Families tend to be large and couples with 10 or more children are not unusual. Each home with children houses a home school. It is led by a team of at least three shepherds elected by the adult and older teen members. A leadership structure of Area Shepherds provides guidance and counsel; assists in formulating, interpreting, and enacting policy; and helps homes with problems they cannot solve by themselves.
In 1994 The Family was in transition. Late that year Berg died. He was 83 years old. He was succeeded by his wife Maria who had been the active administrative head for some years. Announcement of his death to the larger world in early 1995 was soon followed by the announcements of significant changes in organization. In February 1995, The Family adopted a new constitution, "The Love Charter," declared to be Berg's parting gift to the group. It outlined the basic rights and responsibilities of members as well as as the beliefs and behavior standards to which members were expected to adhere. Soon thereafter, Maria announced her marriage to Peter Amsterdam who had been an important assistant to Berg for many years.
The Charter takes great pains to spell out not only the responsibilities, but the rights of individual members. This includes the rights of self-determination, personal initiative, development of gifts and talents, choice of place of residence, and choice of medical care. All adult members may vote on matters before their home and be considered for leadership positions. Parents are assigned responsibilities for the care of their children and the home sees that parents have the time and resources to care for their children properly. One day a week is usually set aside specifically for parents to spend in a relaxed atmosphere with their children. Each home takes collective responsibility for the education through the secondary-school level of all of the minors living in the home.
Membership: In 1997 the Family reported 9,937 full-time members worldwide of which approximately 6,000 are children and youth. There are 749 Family communities in 85 countries of the world. In the United States family homes are found in suburban Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Houston, and Washington D.C. In addition to the 9,000 full members, there are some 20,000 members who do not reside in Family homes, though many did at one time. These members, designated TRF supporters, tithe to support The Family's work and receives The Family's literature.
Periodicals: The Family in Action!(The periodicals are prepared by Wordl Services in Zurich, and distributed through The Family's homes.) • Family Specials News Magazine! • The Hope of the Future. • The New Good News The Persecution Endtime News.
Remarks: Over the years, as many as 40,000 people have been live-in members of The Family. Beginning in the early 1970s a small number of ex-members vocally opposed the organization. Following the introduction of "flirty fishing" and the disbanding of the leadership in 1978, a more intense core of former members arose, among them Deborah Davis, the eldest daughter of David Berg. Many of these former members organized in a group, No Longer Children, which has focused a continuing attack upon The Family, though there is a current movement for reconciliation between The Family and its disaffected members.
While the thrust of the attack upon The Family has generally followed standard anti-cult rhetoric, in the 1990s that attack has concentrated on accusations of child abuse. Critics of The Family have charged it with institutionalizing child abuse during the RNR period. The Family's leadership has responded by denying any widespread child abuse (while admitting that some cases of adult/ minor sexual contact were brought to their attention in the mid 1980s and, once aware of the problem, they instituted strong rules barring any such activity). In the wake of these accusations, government child protection services agencies have moved against the Family in Australia, Argentina, Spain, France, and England. As a byproduct of such action, more than 600 children of The Family have been examined by either government-appointed or private physicians and therapists. To date, the charges have proved unfounded, and as of early 1994 not a single case of child abuse has been discovered among the youth and children.
The Family has a vast literature, most of which was published over the years as a series of "MO" Letters sent to the membership and containing the majority of policy statements. In recent years such communications have been included in the periodical, The New Good News. After a drought of scholarly study of the groups, a new volume of recent historical and social science studies has been compiled by James Lewis. Deborah Davis's book is typical of the several anti-Children of God books.
David, Moses (David Berg). The Basic Mo Letters. Gold Lion Publishers, 1976.
Davis, Deborah (Linda Berg). The Children of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.
Lewis, James R., ed. Sex, Slander, and Salvation: Investigating The Family/Children of God. Goleta, CA: Center for Academic Publication, 1994.
"Mo" (David Berg). The True Story of Moses and the Children of God. Children of God, 1972.
Pritchett, W. Douglas. The Children of God, Family of Love: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing, 1985.
100 The Farm Summertown,
The Farm grew out of the weekly Monday-evening teaching sessions in the 1960s and 1970s in San Francisco, California, led by Stephen Gaskin, at that time, known simply as Stephen. He soon became a well-known spiritual philosopher and published two books, Monday Night Class and Caravan. Attendance at the Monday class increased from a handful to more than 1,000. In October 1970, about 250 of the class in 50 converted school buses and vans joined Stephen in a cross-country tour, dubbed Caravan. In four months, the Caravan criss-crossed the country, gathering additional converts as it went. At the end of the tour, about 350 from the Caravan and the class decided to set up a communal religious community with Stephen and settled on 1,000 acres near Summertown, Tennessee.
During the 1970s, ten other independent communities (including one in Canada) formed around Stephen's teachings. Though administratively autonomous, they considered themselves familially tied to The Farm. All these associated communites have disbanded.
From 1971 to 1983, The Farm had a traditional communal economy like the Shakers or Hutterites. Everyone joining the community gave everything they owned to the common treasury and anything developed or received by any member belonged to the whole group. Trying to do too much with too little for too long brought about a severe financial crisis. In October 1983, The Farm reorganized its communal economy. In addition to allowing individuals to own property, members were made responsible for providing for their own living expenses and contributing to the support of the community, which included paying off a large debt. Because of austerity measures after 1981, the inability of many members to earn a living in one of the poorest areas in Tennessee, and other contributing factors, the population decreased from its peak of about 1,400 in 1981 to its present population.
Currently the Farm is a cooperative community of 60 households, of more than 230 people, including children, living on 1,750 acres (750 additional acres were purchased in 1973). The Farm was settled to establish a strongly cohesive, outwardlydirected community, a base from which the members could, by action and example, have a positive effect on the world. The members try to use agreement and mutual respect to generate a friendly working environment. The members recognize that there are many paths toward recognizing personal ideals and that people have a wide range of social values, but as a group, they do not accept the use of violence, anger, or intimidation for solving problems. The fabric of the community is created by their friendship and respect for one another. The institutions developed to operate the community have changed over the years and will probably continue to change.
The Farm is a nondenominational church of people who consider themselves "free thinkers" because they discuss religion and philosophy in terms that do not exclude any possibilities. People come to The Farm from a variety of religious traditions and disciplines and find those views treated with honor and respect. While individual practice is an on-going, free-ranging discussion. In keeping with their deep reverence for life, the members are pacifists, conscientious objectors, and most are vegetarians. An emphasis on natural healing led to participation in a national revival of midwifery. Stephen's wife, Ina May Gaskin, editor of The Birth Gazette, has become a prominent author and advocate of the practice.
The Book Publishing Company, one of the first businesses on The Farm, publishes vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, Native American books, and books on the environment, gardening, and lifestyle. Other businesses built by Farm members include Total Video, SE International, and The Farm Building Co.. Most residents work with one of the Farm's business.
The Farm has attempted to contribute to the solving of world problems. PLENTY, founded on The Farm in 1974, aims to provide food and health self-sufficiency for the world. Projects were established in the Bronx, New York, Bangladesh, Guatemala, the Caribbean, and Lesotho. The multiplication of food protein by vegetarianism is a basic principle of PLENTY's approach. It is recognized as a United Nations nongovernmental agency.
Membership: In 1995 there were approximately 230 residents at The Farm.
Periodicals: The Birth Gazette. Send orders to 42 The Farm, Summertown, TN 38483. • Plenty News. Send orders to PO Box 394, Summertown, TN 38483. • Natural Rights. Send orders to PO Box 90, Summertown, TN 38483. • ENNA, the Journal of the Ecovillage Network of North America. Send orders to PO Box 90, Summertown, TN 38483.
Gaskin, Ina May. Spiritual Midwifery. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Company, 1978.
Gaskin, Stephen. The Caravan. New York: Random House, 1972.
——. Monday Night Class. San Francisco: Book Publishing Company, .
——. Rendered Infamous. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Company, 1981.
——. Volume One. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Company, 1975.
Popenoe, Cris, and Oliver Popenoe. Seeds of Tomorrow. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Finders is a communal group founded in the late 1960s by George Marion Pettie, the teacher of an eclectic religious philosophy that combines elements of the human potentials movement, Eastern religion (especially Taoism), and New Age thought. The Washington, D.C.-based group was thrust into the public eye when several members were arrested in Tallahassee, Florida. The arrests followed anonymous calls to the police after the members, two men and six children, were seen in a Tallahassee park. As later reported, the children were described as unwashed and covered with insect bites. A short time later a number of newspaper articles appeared describing the men as possible members of an international child pornography ring or a Satanic cult.
Pettie's followers, mostly young adults, established their community in a residential area of the District of Columbia and engaged in an intense interactive lifestyle aimed at shedding delusions and inhibitions. Integral to the group's program was the use of fantasy role-playing games. Along the way, around 1980, the group decided to create a new generation of children who would be raised on a model developed from their knowledge of the Indians of the plains, tough and strong. Each child would be raised by the group as a whole rather than the biological parents.
After an investigation that lasted some six weeks, all charges against the two men arrested in Florida were dropped, there being no evidence of wrongdoing. Since that time, the group has assumed a low profile and its present status is unknown.
Membership: Not reported.
Mintz, John, and Marc Fisher. "Ex-Finders Tell of Games, Complex Beliefs."Washington Post(February 8, 1987).
Jesus People USA
920 W. Wilson Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640
History. Jesus People USA is one of several groups which grew out of the Jesus People revival of the early 1970s. It is also among the few which have retained the communal lifestyle so prominent in the movement's early years. The group began in June 1972 as an itinerant evangelistic outreach of a parent body informally known as the Milwaukee Jesus People. The Milwaukee Jesus People originated with six people in February 1971, under the leadership of Jim Palosaari. By 1972, it had grown to about 150-200 members, with three pastors, and published Street Level, an early Jesus People paper. Most of the followers lived communally. In April 1972, Jim and 30 core members of the Milwaukee Jesus People went to Europe with a Jesus rock band, "The Sheep."
In June 1972, Pastor John Herrin left with a team of 30 members, traveling south and east across the United States in a caravan of three cars and a reconverted school bus (hence the "USA" part of the name). While they were on the road, they issued a Jesus paper, Cornerstone, filling out their evangelistic endeavor with a Jesus rock band, Resurrection, and the Holy Ghost Players, a street-theater drama troupe. Meanwhile, in late 1972, the parent body in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, closed down in the wake of more than 60 members leaving to become the Jesus People Traveling Tent Revival Show, now known as Christ Is the Answer under the leadership of evangelist Bill Lowery. In the winter of 1972, Jesus People USA (now numbering about 40 followers) traveled through Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, conducting rallies and revivals. They settled in Chicago, Illinois, in January 1973, where they have been headquartered ever since. In 1976, the group incorporated as Jesus People USA Full Gospel Ministries and was chartered as a church by the Full Gospel Church in Christ, a San Jose, California-based Pentecostal organization. In 1990, Jesus People USA became affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church and now exists as a community within its worldwide fellowship.
Beliefs. Jesus People USA has adopted a 10-point statement of belief which emphasizes its agreement with conservative evangelical Protestantism. It asserts a belief in the authority of the Bible, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, humanity's need of salvation in Christ, the imminent second coming of Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit manifest in the gifts of the Spirit. There is no specific reference to the Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Spirit and the necessity of speaking-in-tongues. There are two ordinances: baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper.
Organization. Leadership of the ministry is exercised by eight copastors (elders), each with equal authority, though the prime spokesperson for the group in recent years has been Glenn Kaiser. There are also deacons assigned to various community tasks, who act as spiritually mature leaders for newer members. The group lives communally, and members of the community generally do not own real property beyond a few personal items. Members work in a covenant relationship with the community as a whole. New members are admitted upon consent of the elders. The group sponsors a number of ministries including its periodical, Cornerstone, which has emerged as a major evangelical voice; street evangelism; chaplaincy in adult and youth correctional houses; visitation in nursing homes; cult ministry; a food program; crisis pregnancy center; and housing for the homeless. There are a number of musical groups. There is an annual Cornerstone Festival which draws up to 25,000 people. Support is provided through a number of businesses such as construction, roofing, home repair, second-hand merchandise, and painting.
Membership: In 2002, Jesus People USA reported more than 450 members, living in five residence buildings. There is also a farm in rural Missouri, and the festival site near Bushnell, Illinois.
Kartharis was established in 1971 by a group wishing to establish an alternative community with an emphasis on harmony and spiritual growth. In 1974, the members purchased twenty acres near Nevada City, California, for their community and research center. The goals of Katharsis include the following: 1) spiritual growth and self-realization through the study of yoga and related sciences; 2) the development of a natural lifestyle based on diet;3) cooperative living; and 4) promotion of the practice of astrology as an aid to a fuller life. The group annually published the "Solar Lunar Calendar" and a line of related astrology products. After several years Katharsis disappeared and no sign of their existence has surfaced for several years. The organization is presumed to be defunct.
PO Box 410068
San Francisco, CA 94141-0068
The Kerista Commune can be traced to 1956 to a mystical revelatory experience of John Presmont, a former businessman, now known as Brother Jud. The experience initiated a search for meaningful religiousness and communal living. The attempt to resolve issues of sexual attitude restucturing and sexual liberaltion were also a persistent element in what became a lengthy life quest. Several different efforts to organize a communal lifestyle were tried in New York and outside the United States in Central America and the Caribbean. Each effort failed, the victims of internal problems. In the beginning of 1971, at the end of the Flower Children era, Brother Jud was in San Francisco, California. He met a young woman Eve Furchgott, known as Even Eve, also a communalist, and with several others of like mind, founded the New Kerista Tribe. Eve and Jud discovered that they shared many common insights about communal life and became convinced that together they could create the next great world religion, the next new family structure, and the first viable utopian culture. They were soon joined by Wat, an old friend of Eve's, and Geo Logical, a psychiatric nurse. (All group members have taken new names.)
The distinctive characteristics of Kerista life were initiated early in its existence. The early members formed what they termed a living school residence group, later renamed a superfamily, then a polyfidelitous closed group, currently termed a best friend identity cluster. Polyfidelity, the new form of family life practiced at Kerista is seen as combining the best features of monogamous marriage and its extended companionate family unit with the idea of nonmonagamy. Kerista members are ideally members of a best friend identity cluster, an intimate family unit loyal to the members of their cluster (ideally 36 people: 18 women and 18 men), and relate to all of them on an equal basis. Members of Kerista not yet part of a cluster are celibate. Members and clusters may be either heterosexual, bi-sexual or homosexual. To date all clusters have been heterosexual, though there have been attempts to form a homosexual cluster. The oldest cluster is known as The Purple Submarine. In 1988, it had nine adult females and seven adult males. Some members of the cluster had been together for 17 years.
Sexuality in the community is placed in the context of loving mutual reciprocity. Group sex, sado-masochistic sexuality, bestiality, pedophilia, incest, and sexual exhibitionism are not allowed. Overt public displays of physical attraction between members of the Kerista tribe are minimized.
The Keristians organized the Kerista Consciousness Church. They believe in a pantheistic Divinity, a Totality, called Kyrallah. Kyrallah, It, is the one and only reality. They have faith in an ongoing evolution of the human species from blue-green algae to an animal-like nature to a utopian paradise. In developing their theology, they invented a deity as a symbol of a megaintelligence field to express the connection between the individual and the Totality. She is named Sister Kerista, and is pictured as a hip black woman with a pair of sneakers–an embodiment of women's liberation, poetic justice, and the four Keristan ideals of humor, equality, liberation, and love (hell). Sister Kerista, in the Keristan mythology, is the daughter of the Black Madonna and Queen Mother Granny Nanny, the folk heroine of the Eastern Maroons of Jamaica.
Through the 1980s the Kerista Commune organized as a potential worker's paradise with horizontal democracy, worker selfmanagement, and with exacting kibbutz-type communal and equalitarian structures. Sexism, ageism, and racism are not tolerated. Each person is treated as an economic equal and policy decision-making is by majority rule of the general assembly. Children are raised by the entire community and education is provided by their own school called the EZ Learning Academy. Integral to the ongoing life of the community is the Gestalt-O-Rama process, the process for generating group commitment and motivation, solving conflicts, and enhancing self-esteem within the communal life. In both formal and informal settings, members are encouraged to foster a passionate sense of mission and to avoid and transcend negative behavior and attitudes, while cultivating and reinforcing positive traits. Members are encouraged to be verbal and personally accountable for feelings, thoughts, and behavior, and open to continual growth. The Gestalt-O-Rama, Mental Health Maintenance Process revolves around 88 basic behavior standards. Rap groups are also open to non-Keristans who want to participate in the growth process.
Several structures developed to further the community's goal of creating a scientific utopian society. These include the Club Utopia Growth Co-op, the Performing Arts Social Society (which publishes several of the group's periodicals), the Alliance for Creative Philanthropy, the New School of Utopian Psychology, and the Node Unity Alliance. Keristans hope to create a transnational kibbutz movement whose members, like themselves, will reduce per capita costs via cooperative living and use the surplus to fund philathropic projects aimed at solving global problems. A project was initiated in Jamaica as a model for the future interaction of distant human communities along scientific utopian lines.
In November 1991 the Kerista Community as it had existed through the 1980s went through a major disruption when Eve Furchgott and a group of members left Kerista. Their departure effectively disrupted the settled life, including the computer business, which they had enjoyed in San Francisco. Jud quickly moved to constitute the remaining members as the World Academy of Keristan Education to continue to perpetuate the Keristan ideals. The small group has reorganized as a theater arts repertory company and to build a larger network of support to spread the Keristan program for a prosperous future.
Membership: Following the disruption of 1991, less than 15 members remained in the case group. In 1993, Brother Jud reported some 200 in the immediate support group.
Chapman, Paul, ed. Clusters. Greensboro, NC: Alternative, 1975.
Gruen, John. The New Bohemia. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1966.
O'Lee, Lil, and Even Eve, eds. Polyfidelity. San Francisco, CA: Performing Arts Social Society, 1984.
San Cristobal, NM 87564
The Lama Foundation, located in the mountains near San Cristobal, New Mexico, serves as a coming-together point for many of the mystical, psychological and Eastern religious perspectives which spread so widely in the counterculture in the 1960s. The foundation began when Steve Durkee, his wife, and three children settled on the one-hundred-and-fifteen acre tract in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in 1967. Eventually, a community of approximately 20 adults and their children gathered at the foundation. Adherents follow different paths, including yoga, Buddhism, Judaism, Sufism, Native American, and Christianity. During the summer, the community enlarges to more than 50 people, and summer retreat program is maintained. A wide variety of spiritual teachers spends time at the Lama Foundation.
Identified strongly with the Lama foundation is Baba Ram Dass (formerly known as Richard Alpert). Through the foundation, he published Be Here Now, Lama's first publication venture. Sufism has also been a strong influence. Murshid Samuel L. Lewis is buried at Lama. The foundation also published Towards the One by Pir Vilayat Khan, head of the Sufi Order.
Activities at the foundation center on the main Dome, which includes a library, prayer room, and bath house. The residents gather daily for meditation and prayer sessions. Work is spread among the residents and includes construction and maintenance of the various buildings, the preparation of food, gardening, car maintenance, childcare, and working for Flag Mountain (which sells rubber stamps, books, and silk-screened Tibetan prayer flags).
Membership: Approximately 18 people live year round at Lama Foundation and approximately 50 in residence through the summer.
Dass, Baba Ram. Be Here Now. San Christobal, NM: Lama Foundation, 1971.
Gardner, Hugh. The Children of Prosperity. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1978.
Hedgepeth, William, and Dennis Stock. The Alternative. New York: Macmillan, 1970.
Houriet, Robert. Getting Back Together. New York: Avon, 1972.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
Mu Farm is named for the ancient continent of Lemuria or Mu, made famous in theosophical lore. It was begun in 1971 when Fletcher Fist and two other people purchased land near Yoncalla, Oregon. A goat-milk farm was established as an economic base, and other works are developing. The beliefs of Mu Farm are eclectic and derive from the many psychical and mystical teachings that developed in the 1960s. The group lists sources of belief as the Bible, the I Ching, the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ by Levi, and the writings of Martin Buber, Swami Yogananda, Einstein, and others. The golden rule is emphasized as replacing a set of specific rules and regulations.
Membership: Not reported. In 1988 there were approximately 30 resident members.
Periodicals: Mu Eggs Press.
R.R. 1, Box 478
Williams, IN 47470
Padanaram Settlement, also known as God's Valley, is an intentional community in south central Indiana founded in 1966 by a small group under the leadership of Daniel Wright. Wright, an independent thinker and minister, was raised in the Brethren Church. His life was punctuated with periodic religious experiences which led to the building of Padanaram as a microscopic city, the first of many to be created in the millennial order of "Kingdomism".
In 1960, Wright heard a voice that said to him, "I will show you My valley." He got in his car and allowed the Spirit to guide him to the present site of the Padanaram Settlement. With a group of five men, three women, and four children, he purchased the former Smokey Valley Farm in 1966. A sawmill, which became the backbone of the community's growth, was purchased in 1968. The businesses have continued to expand into compost, bark mulch, organic farming, and other areas. Padanaram started a communal school (K-12) in 1972, a preschool in 1975, and a nursery in 1978. Meals are eaten three times daily in the communal dining area.
Five principles emerged from the building of Padanaram Settlement: 1. As one would that others do, do unto others; 2. Hold all things in common, count nothing one's own; 3. Distribution to each according to the need; 4. Of one who has much, much is required; and 5. One that won't work, shall not eat. Guided by these principles, a flourishing community developed and overcame the initial hardships of establishing an economic base and unfriendly feelings in the area. Today, two conventions are held annually (May and October), and an open house in October brings individuals of the surrounding towns for a visit.
Members of the community see themselves as a part of a "Kingdomism" movement and look to the day when people will live communally. They see hope in the emergence of many similar communal groups around the United States and the world. They are not separatists. To the contrary, they actively promote their form of "utopian" living and see a society governed by the simple principles by which they have become successful as necessary for the survival of humanity. The International Communal Utopia is the name given to the future order. According to its teachings, many villages like Padanaram Settlement will be formed as selfsufficient villages. The group believes that together, they will lead humanity out of its jungle-like past into a world of economic cooperation, peace, and security.
Membership: Approximately 200 people reside at the Padanaram Settlement as of 1992.
Periodicals: Millennial Chronicles.
Remarks: Wright and Padanaram have been heavily criticized for establishing a patriarchal and sexist social order. In return, Wright has defended the differentiation of gender roles at Padanaram as proper, biblical, and in keeping with both the equality of the sexes as well as their inherent differences.
Faith Babies. Williams, IN: Padanaram Press, 1987.
Kingdomism. Williams, IN: Padanaram Press, 1990.
Padanaram. Williams, IN: Padanaram Press, .
Wagner, Jon. "A Midwestern Patriarchy." In Sex Roles in Contemporary American Communes. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1982.
Wright, Daniel. "Open Letter to the National Historical Communal Societies Association." N.p. 1988. Mimeo.
——. Utopian Concepts for Social Revolution. Williams, IN: Padanaram Press, 1987.
Rainbow Family of Living Light
Current address not obtained for this edition.
Growing out of the counterculture movement of the late 1960s and conceptualized in the thinking of the Rev. Barry Adams (also known as Barry Davis), the Rainbow Family of Living Light is a loosely organized network of individuals, informal groups, and communes which share in common an attachment to what is termed New Age consciousness. The Family is truly a rainbow in its eclectic mixture of differing beliefs, concerns, and practices, but united in its vision that humanity is passing into a new age of spiritual consciousness. The Rainbow Family sees itself and is seen as a harbinger of the new age and a major component of the New Age movement which has its exponents in many of America's alternative religions.
The major activity of the Family since the early 1970s has been the sponsorship of an annual "gathering of the tribes." (New Age people often describe the essence of community as a new tribal consciouness.) These annual meetings began with a small "Vortex" gathering in Oregon around 1970. The first large gathering to attract several hundred attendees (and significant media coverage) was held in 1972 at Strawberry Lake, east of Granby, Colorado. It called together the "tribes" to give honor and respect to anyone or anything that has aided in the positive evolution of humankind and nature upon this, our most beloved and beautiful world.
The belief world of the Rainbow Family centers upon ecology and the psychic/spiritual world much discussed in the 1960s. Basic is a nature-pantheism expressed in the belief, "God is you, God is me, God is the World, God is the Sky, God is the Sun." The ecological emphasis is expressed in a love of nature and of the outof-doors. Adherents believe that everything in nature was placed there for man's use (not abuse). Marijuana is one of the Godcreated herbs, and it viewed as having sacramental value. All forms of pollutants are opposed.
The psychic world view is expressed in the incorporation of numerous practices from various bodies. The great invocation (channeled through Alice Bailey) is freely used, as is the distinction between Jesus the man and the mystic Christ consciousness. Followers believe in reincaration but with a distinct, this-worldly interest. Christ consciousness is a mystic state, but it is signalled by a person's making others happy, doing good, and giving more than is taken.
Love is an important goal. Loving someone is equated with heaven, and hating someone is equated with hell. Sex is considered to be an expression of love. Legal aspects of marriage are no longer considered necessary, for when two people love each other, they are thought to be married. There are no formal acts of worship, and the formality of most religious acts is condemned. A wide mixture of Hindu chants, Christian hymns, and meditative techniques are employed to reach God consciousness.
Membership: No membership roles are kept, but a directory of the family's network is published irregularly. Several thousand people are involved. The family claims as many as 10,000 among those who share its free lifestyle. In 1984, 28,000 attended the Family's summer gathering in Modoc County, California. In the late 1970s Rainbow Family gatherings emerged in Australia and New Zealand. In 1982 they appeared in Europe.
Periodicals: The Guide.
Garlington, Phil. "The Return of the Flower Children."California9, no. 10 (October, 1978): 81-83, 137-38.
The Rainbow Nation Cooperative Community Guide. McCall, ID: Rainbow Nation, 1972.
Reba Place Church and Associated Communities
727 Reba Pl.
Evanston, IL 60602
Reba Place Church began in 1956 with a group of Mennonite students at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, and started as an off-campus fellowship. The members were reacting against the sterility of the church and were operating out of a vision of the church as a disciplined brotherhood in small communities of spiritual consensus. Among the leaders were John Miller, Don Mast, and Virgil Vogt. In 1957 the fellowship moved to 727 Reba Place, Evanston, Illinois, from whence the original group took its name. Growth in the church/fellowship was steady, as like-minded individuals, spurred by the communal thrust of the 1970s were drawn to Reba Place. Other buildings were purchased, and community activity accelerated.
Prior to 1980 membership in the church (the religious structure) and the fellowship (the communal living arrangement) were one and the same. Every person who became a member of the Reba Place Church also commited her/himself to participation in a common purse. In 1980 that definition changed, and church membership was opened to people outside the fellowship. As of the late 1980s, about two-thirds of the members were living outside the communal arrangements. The Reba Place Fellowship now exists as a subgroup of Reba Place Church.
As Reba Place was progressing, however, other communal experiments were also beginning. In 1971, the Plow Creek Fellowship was established by three families of the Reba Place Fellowship. They purchased a 190 acre farm in Bureau County, Illinois, and by 1974 it had grown into an independent congregation in its own right. The Fellowship of Hope was formed by nine people at the Mennonite Seminary at Elkhart, Indiana. From their struggle to find meaning in their church participation, and partially inspired by the Reba Place model, a communal life emerged. In 1971, three families in Newton, Kansas, joined together to "concentrate resources for the work of peacemaking and care for the families at the same time." In 1974, the communes in Bureau County, Illinois, Elkhart, Indiana, and Newton, Kansas joined with Reba Place in a mutual covenant of dependency. According to the covenant, the basis for membership is a commitment to Jesus and to his radical teaching. Membership specifically involves renunciation of property; love as an alternative to anger, violence, and war; faithfulness in marriage as the context for sex; a servanthood stance in all human relationships; and a communal organization of personal affairs. Each community is seen as a local church, with all the rights and privileges thereof. Within the circle of communities, encouragement is given to the sharing of spiritual gifts and resources, responding to words of correction, visiting between communities, allowing transfer of members between communities, sharing finances, and scheduling occasional intracommunal gatherings.
Each of the associated communities has grown out of a Mennonite base, though strong emphasis is place on the multi-traditional nature of their present membership. A general Mennonite theological perspective remains, along with concerns for peace and social service. Emphasis is placed on the radical teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. The impetus to communal forms has also been present in Anabaptism, partially as a means of survival in a hostile world. At Reba Place, it is seen as a positive means to fulfill the teachings of Jesus. The communes differ from their Mennonite neighbors primarily in their spontaneous style of worship, which includes guitars, folk music, and the free expression of emotion. Priority is given to learning to live together in a family-like existence. Basic teachings are found in the Christian Way, by John Miller, one of the founders.
Members of the fellowships work at jobs within the surrounding communities. A group associated with the Plow Creek Fellowship, The Builders, helps finance the group through various kinds of construction work. Income is pooled, and each individual or nuclear family receives an allowance. Social structures supported by the Reba Place Church include a day nursery and apartment rentals. Support is also given to indiviuals in the community. Reba Place is located in a racially mixed neighborhood, and it includes black, Asian, and Puerto Rican Americans in its Fellowship. The Church is administered by four senior elders: Virgil Vogt, John E. Lehman, Julius Belser, and James C. Croequert.
Membership: Not reported. In 1988 there were 160 members/ residents at Reba Place; 45 at Plow Creek; approximately ten at New Creation in Newton, Kansas, and 30 at Fellowship of Hope at Elkhart, Indiana.
Periodicals: Life Together. Send orders to Box 6017, Evanston, IL 60204. • RPC Information Exchange. Send orders to Box 6016, Evanston, IL 60204.
Jackson, Dave, and Neta Jackson. Glimpses of Glory, Thirty Years of Community. Elgin, IL: Brethren Press, 1987.
——. Living Together in a World Falling Apart. Carol Stream, IL: Creation House, 1974.
Miller, John W. The Christian Way. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1969.
984 W. Flager St.
Miami, FL 33130
REMAR International grew out of the religious experience of Miguel Dias, a Spaniard. A compulsive gambler, Dias had a conversion experience to conservative evangelical Christianity in 1982 and founded a communal Christian group which he named for its goal of REhabilitating MARginal people. It is also the case that, in Spanish, remar means "to row," and the community views itself as being in a boat rowing out into the sea to save people drowning in their addictions. The community has a four "pillared" program that includes evangelism, discipleship, social work, and the development of Christian businesses. It accomplishes its first task both by going into the streets of the urban centers in which its communities are located and finding addicts and by inviting homeless people to take up residence in their homes and utilize the opportunity to turn their lives around. In the United States, as might be expected from their point of origin, REMAR communities have been active in the Hispanic communities.
REMAR is a conservative charismatic (Pentecostal) group. Worship is lively and spirited and punctuated with testimonies of those whose lives have been changed by their coming to the community. A leader, Angel Jimenez, has been appointed to oversee the communities in America, and he in turn has appointed a leader over each local community. Besides gifts from people in the larger secular community who appreciate their work, the individual REMAR centers have founded businesses, especially thrift stores, which they feel are in line with their goals of Christian living and assisting people to rehabilitate themselves.
Membership: In 2002, there were more than 1,500 REMAR communities and 15,000 members.
Jansen, David. Fire, Salt, and Peace: Intentional Christian Communities Alive in North America. Evanston, IL: Shalom Mission Communities, 1996. 207 pp.
Renaissance Church of Beauty
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Renaissance Church of Beauty and the Renaissance Community was founded in 1969 as the Brotherhood of the Spirit near Leyden, Massachusetts, by Michael Metelica. Still in his teens and having just returned from California, he built and moved into a tree-house. Soon he was joined by eight friends. They began to work for farmers for wages of food or goods instead of money. When vandals burned down the tree-house, they moved into a cottage on the land of a farmer for whom they had been working. The Brotherhood was born there.
Metelica, who chose the name Michael Repunzal, by which he is currently known, was greatly influenced by Spiritualist medium Elwood Babbitt, who also introduced him to The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ by Levi Dowling, a major source of group beliefs. Babbitt specializes in psychically providing information about an individual's previous incarnations on earth. The beliefs center upon the seven immutable laws: order within the universe; balance of the mind (positive) and brain (negative); harmony (a direct alignment with all vibration of electrical energy); growth from carnal to celestial; God-perfection; spiritual love; and compassion. From the early days of vegetarianism and abstinence from alcohol, a much less strict diet has been adopted.
During the first years of the 1970s the group expanded rapidly, numbering 365 by 1973. By 1972, the movement decentralized and moved into new centers near four northwest Masschusetts towns. To provide an economic base, several businesses were created. Though most eventually failed, several have survived: Rockets, which outfits buses for touring musicians, and Renaissance Builders and Renaissance Excavating supply most of the current income. By 1974 two separate organizational structures emerged. The Renaissance Church of Beauty was created so that all residents and nonresidents could participate in the support of the beliefs and practices of the former Brotherhood of the Spirit. The Renaissance Community, consisting of the resident members, was then created for church members who wished to practice the church's beliefs on a full-time basis.
In 1975 a eighty-acre tract at Gill, Massachusetts, was purchased. The group began to reassemble there and construct the 2001 Center, conceived in part as a haven against the coming time of troubles predicted by Edgar Cayce as the twentieth century comes to an end. An organic farm has been started on the property.
Membership: Not reported.
Periodicals: The Renaissance Community Newsletter. Send orders to 71 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA 01376.
Borowski, Karol. Attempting an Alternative Society. Norwood, PA: Norwood Editions, 1984.
Hapgood, Charles H. Voices of Spirit. New York: Delacorte Press, 1975.
Popenoe, Cris, and Oliver Popenoe. Seeds of Tomorrow. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984.
7419 E. Brick School Rd.
Rock City, IL 61070
Salem Acres is an eclectic commune founded in the late 1960s. It combines elements of Pentcostalism and Sacred Name Adventism. Its founder was Lester B. Anderson, a former Baptist minister. The purpose of creating Salem acres was to provide a place where a group could grow in the Spirit and be free to accept new truth as it came. From the Pentecostals, the group at Salem Acres has accepted an emphasis on the baptism of the Spirit and speaking in tongues, and it has adopted a New Testament church order. The various gifts of the spirit are manifest and these ministries are functioning. Women partake in the minsitry but not over men. Spirited singing, testimonies, and prayer for the sick characterize services. The group has derived an emphasis on the Old Testament laws, particularly keeping the Sabbath and diet. Both the Lord's Supper and baptism by immersion are practiced. The group operates Lakeview Academy for grades 4-12.
Membership: Not reported. There were approximately 50 residents in 1992. The group is loosely affiliated with like-minded congregations in other countries.
Periodicals: Yahweh Nissi.
777 Shepherdsfield Rd.
Fulton, MO 65251-9473
Shepherdsfield Community, also known as New Christian Life Fellowship, is an independent communal Christian fellowship that grew out of the Jesus People revival that began in the late 1960s. Some affected by the revival in 1971 in LaJolla, California, founded an independent church, the Bird Rock Fellowship. Within a year the group had become five congregations serving various sections of the greater San Diego metropolitan area. In 1977, two of the pastors within the fellowship, Jon R. Welker and Elliot Stearns, saw a need for a deeper level of fellowship as described in the New Testament, specifically the adoption of a communal lifestyle. A period of study and learning about contemporary Christian community as represented in such groups as the Reba Place Fellowship and the Society of Brothers, prepared members of the fellowship to found a new Christian community. In 1979 the group purchased a former sheep farm near Fulton, Missouri, which they named Shepherdsfield. The group of approximately 70 people departed from San Diego after the celebration of Pentecost and arrived in Fulton in June 9, 1979, the date recognized as the founding date of the Shepherdsfield Community.
Shepherdsfield is organization communally. Members relinquish personal property to the group. The majority of meals are eaten together, and membership occurs only after a period of testing of one's commitment to the ideals of communal life. Families live in separate family dwellings and nuclear family units are recognized and nurtured within the communal structure. The community is supported by a variety of businesses: the Shepherd's Company, the Shepherdsfield Bakery, and the Shepherd's Brethren. Children attend a community school.
The community holds to a conservative evangelical Christian faith and affirms belief in the Bible as the Word of God, the deity of Christ, and the spiritual unity of believers. The community also affirms the necessity of baptism and the acknowledgment of the believer having received forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
Membership: As of 2001 there were approximately 100 residents at Shepherdsfield.
Shiloh Youth Revival Centers
The Shiloh Youth Revival Centers was one of the most successful of the groups to emerge out of the Jesus People Revival of the 1970s. The movement originated in a vision of John J. Higgins, Jr. (1939), to extend the Jesus People Movement, then centered in California, into Oregon. A drug addict, he was converted to Christianity in the mid-1960s by reading the Bible. He began attending Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California. With others like himself, in 1968 he founded a Jesus People commune called the House of Miracles. His work attracted people and very soon a string of similar houses could be found around southern California.
In April, 1969, Higgins and some 30 young people moved to Pleasant Hill, Oregon, where the first house to bear the name Shiloh was opened. The new name reflected a belief that Shiloh (Jesus) would soon return. Over the summer the group tripled in size and purchased 70 acres of land near Dexter, Oregon, upon which a discipleship training center was erected. They incorporated as the Oregon Youth Revival Centers, later changed to Shiloh Youth Revival Centers. From that point forward they centered their life work on building the center, evangelizing, and founding centers across the country. By 1974 they had founded some 163 Shiloh centers, though most were short-lived and only half that number were in existence at any one time.
Shiloh was communal in nature. Members made a commitment to Christ to forsake all and follow him. The movement took care of basic needs of the members. The group also believed in working to support themselves rather than asking for donations. In that process they built a number of very successful businesses from canning to construction, and from printing to carpet cleaning. Eugene, Oregon, became their second central focus of activity, and they opened the Shiloh Fellowship there for regular public worship services.
The organization went through a severe upheaval when the board questioned Higgins' autocratic leadership and fired him. There followed a period of turmoil when many members left. Higgins left to become a pastor with Calvary Chapel. Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service began to question the tax status of the group and its numerous business ventures. The group reorganized and began a lengthy fight with the IRS. Slowly the many communities around the country closed and by 1986 none were left. The first trial on taxes occurred in 1986 and the following year the court ruled that the businesses were not tax exempt and hence taxes were owed. That decision effectively bankrupted the organization, and two years later it formally disbanded.
A final reunion was held was held in the summer of 1987. By this time most of the members had drifted into other similar movements.
Peterson, Joe V. Jesus People: Christ, Communes and the Counterculture of the Late Twentieth Century in the Pacific Northwest. Eugene, OR:M.A. thesis, Northwest Christian college, 1990. 160 pp.
Richardson, James T., Mary W. Stewart, and Robert B. Simmons. Organized Miracles: A Study of a Contemporary Youth, Communal, Fundamentalist Organization. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1979.368 pp.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
Shivalila was founded in Bakersfield, California, in the 1970s by Gridley Lorimer Wright IV (1934-1979). Wright, a Yale graduate and former stockbroker, left his career during the 1960s and joined the counterculture movement on the West Coast. He became an active user of LSD and brought around him a group which explored the effects of its use. Shivalila grew out of this experimental group.
Wright had reasoned that the foundation of society emerged from the relationship of mother and child and hence that relationship is the dimension in which microcosm and macrocosm intersect. Western society, based upon the nuclear family, grows out of the child's relationship with the One Source of the Energy of Life, the mother. The One-Source imprint leads to competitiveness and an expectation of partiality. In contrast, in communal societies, children respond to many Sources which make it less competitive and better able to adjust to broad life experiences. Wright had first experienced and was attracted to the collective communal aspect of culture during the 1960s. Thus adding to their experiments in psychedelic drugs, members of the group traveled and gained experience by living in various communal societies in both the United States and abroad. During this period of exploration, some members of the group studied with both Buddhist and Hindu tantric masters who taught them some of the tantric secrets, including some left-hand sexual techniques.
As Shivalila emerged in the 1970s, it included an emphasis upon the use of psychedelic drugs, a communal lifestyle, and the practice of tantric yoga. Added emphasis was placed upon the raising of children in an ideal environment, and the group often referred to itself as the Children's Liberation Front. The emphases led to group members' assuming a four-point social contract, the Covenants of Shivalila. They agreed to practice ahimsa, nonviolence; sattva ava, the recognition of the relative nature of truth; bhramcari, nonparticipation in the ownership of private property and denial of relationships that involve privacy or secrecy (including the marriage contract); and tantra, participation in sexual relationships only after the other party has manifested an identification with nature and babies. To Wright, these characteristics meant the recreation of a society similar to that of the Stone Age.
Shivalila enjoyed a brief moment of fame after its publication of its beliefs and practices in a book, The Book of the Mother, in 1977. After finding that the closest approximation to their ideal lifestyle was being practiced by the Tasaday tribe in the Philippines, they moved to the islands. However, the Philippine government forced them to move in March 1978, and the group immigrated to India. Burying their American passports, they asked for political asylum. The group chose an area in a rural part of Rajasthan state to create their new society. Unfortunately, in December 1978, several months after their settling in, Wright was stabbed and died of complications of the injuries some weeks later.
Membership: Not reported. In 1979 the group had 18 members. Its present status is unknown.
The Book of the Mother. Bakersfield, CA: Children's Liberation Front, 1977.
Shutesbury, MA 01072
Sirius, a center for Evolution of Consciousness, is an intentional community founded in 1978 by several former members of the Findhorn Community, the pioneering Scottish New Age community. Among the founders were Corrinne McLaughton and Gordon Davidson. It was named after the star which many believe, in an esoteric sense, to be the source of love and wisdom on Earth. Resident members see themselves as part of a network of light groups and individuals around the world working for the uplifting of consciousness. They place great emphasis on the development of a planetary consciousness that honors the interconnectedness and sacredness of all life.
Sirius is located on a 90-acre tract of land. Members believe that they are stewards of the land and that they should live as lightly on the earth as possible. They strive to create a sustainable abundance through the growth of an organic, pesticide-free, vegetable and herb garden and environmentally sound construction.
In their group life, members seek to honor the Divine presence in each person. They strive to serve the good of the whole and balance the needs of the individual and group. Decisions are made by consensus of the general meeting or core group. Meditation is used both for individual growth and as an aid in building consensus. Daily life is a spiritual teacher.
Sirius has developed a program of community outreach through workshops for visitors to the community, open houses, sponsoring seasonal celebrations, and resident apprenticeships. Nonresidents may become associate members in the community.
Membership: In 1997 there were approximately 25 resident members.
McNaughton, Corinne, and Gordon Davidson. Builders of the Dawn: Community Lifestyles in a Changing World. Shutesbury, MA: Sirius Publishing, 1986.
Solar Logos Foundation
PO Box 2008
Buellton, CA 84110
The Solar Logos Foundation is composed to spiritual seekers to desire to practice a natural way of life based on ancient teachings of an eightfold path of right living. The teachings are based on visions and revelations received by founder Norman Paulsen, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda and author of Christ Consciousness and Sacred Science. The foundation teaches that people are all sons and daughters of the same source and have been gifted with life on this planet; and should desire only to help humanity and themselves to realize their true nature, and then use that knowledge to help make the planet a healthy garden again for all life forms (minerals, plants, animals, and people), all living in harmony and in true understanding as was the original intent. According to the foundation, these teachings can be embraced by all denominations to further strengthen one's devotion and quest for God-realization.
One a person has established direct mental and visual communication with God in meditation, his or her mental compass needle will always swing toward the Polestar, which is the light at the end of the inner-dimensional tunnel, the Solar Logos. The attainment of constant communication with God is "that Pearl of Great Price" that Jesus spoke of, or that divine possession that cannot be bought with any amount of wealth. The foundation asserts that attainment of this state of consciousness by a man or woman can truly have a positive effect on all of humanity.
Since its founding in 1968, the Solar Logos Foundation has encouraged the formation of spiritual colonies of men, women, and children living, working, and meditating together for the greater good of the world. The foundation believes that through the collective energy derived in a group environment, individual spiritual growth is stimulated and quickened. Current colonies include a large pristine sanctuary located near Point Conception, California (north of Santa Barbara), and an organic farm near the sanctuary. In addition to locations of association and work, these also function as places for reflection, meditation, and promotion of God realization.
The foundation conducts regular daily services a Sunday service, all open to the public. Seminars are held during the year offering instruction and guidance in living the eightfold path and applying the twelve divine virtues. This includes instruction in the techniques of meditation along with healing through diet and exercise.
Membership: Not reported.
Duquette, Susan. Sunburst Farm Family Cookbook. Santa Barbara, CA: Woodbridge Press Publishing Company, 1978.
Hansen-Gates, Jan. "Growing Outdoors: The Brotherhood of the Sun." Santa Barbara Magazine1, no. 3 (Winter 1975-76): 64-71.
Paulsen, Norman. Sunburst, Return of the Ancients. Goleta, CA: Sunburst Farms Publishing Farms, 1980. Revised and retitled as Christ Consciousness. Salt Lake City, UT: The Builders Publishing Company, 1984.
Weaver, Dusk, and Willow Weaver. Sunburst, A People, A Path, A Purpose. San Diego, CA: Avant Books, 1982.
The Synanon Church
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Synanon Church began in 1958 as Synanon Foundation, Inc., a therapeutic group for alcoholics and drug addicts. CharlesE. Dederich, a former member of Alcoholics Anonymous, began the organization informally in his apartment in Ocean Park, California. As the group grew and began to experience some benefits, it rented a clubhouse and incorporated. The following year it moved to Santa Monica and over the next few years gained a reputation for reeducating drug addicts. From its base in Santa Monica, during the 1960s Synanon communities formed along the West Coast, particularly San Francisco, Marin County, and Oakland, and outposts opened in the East, Midwest, and Puerto Rico. Residents totaled 1,400 by decade's end. In 1968 Dederich moved to Marin County, where within a few years three rural Synanon communities developed near the town of Marshall.
The religious nature of Synanon, coming as it did out of another religious organization, Alcoholics Anonymous, had been tacitly recognized from almost the beginning of its existence. However, Dederich also recognized that many of the people Synanon was attempting to assist had rejected organized religion; therefore, Synanon was not formally called a religion. Those outside Synanon tended to view it as another therapeutic community. As community life developed, the religious nature of Synanon life could not be denied. Discussions of Synanon's role as a religion in the 1960s led to a change of Articles of Incorporation in January, 1975, which designated the Synanon Foundation as the organization through which the Synanon religion and church is manifest. On November 17, 1980, the present name, The Synanon Church, was formally adopted.
Synanon derives its theological perspective from Eastern thought (Buddhism and Taoism) and from those Western mystics who had absorbed a prominent Asian religious component in their teachings, most notably Ralph Waldo Emerson and Aldous Huxley. As a community, Synanon seeks to manifest the basic principles of oneness, and members seek to manifest that integration (or oneness) in themselves and in their relations with each other. The Synanon Game, described as the group's central sacrament, is the principal tool utilized in adherents' search for unity. Similar to encounter groups, the Synanon Game is "played" by a small group of people who meet together as equals in a circle to share in an intense and emotionally expressive context. When successful, the game leads to mutual confession, repentence, and absolution while providing overall pastoral care.
Synanon residents follow the golden rule, and helping others is basic in the practical philosophy that all residents attempt to follow. Residents also believe that the most effective way to redeem humanity from alienation and achieve unity and integration is to form religious communities based upon the beliefs of the Synanon religion and church.
The Synanon Church is organized hierarchically. It is headed by an eight-member executive committee of the board of directors. The board is composed of the ministers of the church. The ministers oversee the communities, schools, and offices of the church, besides performing their normal ministerial functions.
Membership: Not reported.
Educational Facilities: Synanon College, Badger, California.
Charles E. Dederich School of Law, Badger, California.
Remarks: Since its earliest days, Synanon has been subject to controversy. In December, 1961, Dederich went to jail, for the first time, on a zoning code violation. Synanon has also been attacked in articles by individuals who disagreed with its practices and techniques. One such attack, considered particularly defamatory, led to a libel suit against the San Francisco Examiner. Synanon received not only a large cash settlement but an additional $2,000,000 in damages from the Hearst Corporation, the newspaper's publisher for, among other things, burglarizing the Synanon offices.
Possibly the most controversial event affecting Synanon occurred in 1978 when an attorney, representing a person suing The Synanon Church, was bitten by a rattlesnake. In the year following this incident, Dederich, who along with two church members had been charged in the case, suffered three strokes. As the trial date approached, and with Dederich's health failing and unable to pursue the defense of the case, those charged settled the case by pleading no contest.
During the last several years, over forty people associated with The Synanon Church have been indicted on various charges by grand juries. None of these well-publicized indictments went to trial, as charges were dropped in each case for lack of evidence. (It is the position of The Synanon Church that, had Dederich's health permitted a trial, he and the others charged in the rattlesnake incident would also have been found innocent). As of 1988, The Synanon Church continues a process of adjudication of charges leveled by various government agencies.
Dederich, Charles E. The Tao Trip Sermon. Marshall, CA: Synanon Publishing House, 1978.
Endore, Guy. Synanon. Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1968.
Garfield, Howard M. The Synanon Religion, Marshall, CA: Synanon Foundation, 1978.
Gerstel, David U. Paradise Incorporated: Synanon. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1982.
Janzen, Rod. The Rise and Fall of Synanon: A California Utopia. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
Mitchell, Dave, Cathy Mitchell, and Richard Ofshe. The Light on Synanon. New York: Seaview Books, 1980.
Olin, William. Escape From Utopia. Santa Cruz, CA: Unity Press, 1980.
Yablonsky, Lewis. The Tunnel Back: Synanon. New York: Macmillan, 1965.
℅ The Community in Boston
92 Melville Ave.
Dorchester, MA 02124
History. Formerly known as the Messianic Communities of New England, its roots can be traced to Chattanooga, Tennessee. There, in 1972, Gene Spriggs and his wife Marsha Spriggs opened their home to youth and young adults, as well as the homeless poor in the area. Around this core group of young people, a community composed of various ages began to form during the spreading Jesus People Revival. Those who received the gospel they preached gave up all their own possessions and moved into households together, sharing all things in common after the patterns described in the biblical book of Acts 2:37-47 and 4:32-35. Settling in several large homes on Vine Street in Chattanooga, the group became known as the Vine Christian Community and operated a restaurant known as the Yellow Deli. Eventually in response to invitation from residents in nearby towns, the Vine Community sent workers to establish other communities; and by 1978 a dozen communal households had emerged in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. They operated six Yellow Delis, a bakery, and a restaurant and meeting house called Areopagus. At the time, there were approximately 150 members.
In 1978, workers went to Vermont to help a group of eight Vermont families establish a community in Island Pond, Vermont, in a geographical area known as the Northeast Kingdom, and was for a time called the Northeast Kingdom Community. They soon opened a business together known as the Common Sense Wholesome Food Store and Restaurant.
Meanwhile, as the cult controversy developed during the late 1970s, parents of some of the young people who had joined the Chattanooga community began to criticize it for its communal lifestyle and the authority represented by the elders. In the midst of the controversy, a number of deprogrammings were attempted. The Community also incurred the enmity of some christian leaders and was spoken against by some local churches and Christian colleges in the area. In the midst of the controversy, fewer and fewer people responded to the preaching of community members, and in 1979, the Vermont community opened its doors for the members in the South to move there.
Selling their properties and businesses in the South, the various communities began relocating in Vermont, where they lived together in large extended families with shared households throughout the village of Island Pond. Here they diversified into a number of service oriented businesses. Their lifestyle sought to openly demonstrate the unity of the body of Christ in a practical, daily manner. Within a few years, the community had grown to more than 300 people, approximately one-fifth of the population of the village.
Soon, however, some local opposition arose from the group's stance regarding the necessity of a disciple's (i.e. member's) separation from the world system. Criticism was leveled at the apparent submission of women, the children's nonattendance at public schools, and the group's dress (adopted with concerns of modesty in mind). Members of the community were accused of many things, from underbidding local contractors for a series of government projects to mistreating their children. The primary focus of media concern, however, was the disciple of the children, an issue initially raised in a custody battle between a member and a spouse who had left the movement.
Then, in 1984, a member of the community left and accused the members of child abuse. As a result, approximately 90 state troopers raided the community, and 50 social workers seized the 112 children of the community. The raid was officially declared unconstitutional and "grossly unlawful" by Vermont District Court Judge Frank Mahady. The children were found to show no signs of child abuse. A brief time later, the complainant admitted to fabricating the allegations of child abuse due to pressure to do so from a local organization which was boycotting the community's businesses in an effort to drive them from the area. He was later forgiven and rejoined the community.
During the 1980s, the community in Island Pond sent workers to various locations in New England, as well as France, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, and the midwestern United States at the invitation of people in those areas who had become believers. The communities thus established also began to send out workers to establish communities themselves. The communities in New England refer to themselves as the Messianic Communities of New England. As the communities have entered the 1990s, they have drawn further criticism for their stand against homosexuality. They claimed it was a sin worthy of eternal punishment, according to Revelation 21:8, Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-11, and other biblical passages.
Beliefs. The community receives the traditional affirmations of evangelical Christianity, but is unrelated to any particular denominational family. It believes in an authoritative and inerrant Bible, the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, and His atonement. They look for the return of Christ. Members affirm the fall of humanity, salvation by grace, and justification by faith. While recognizing the validity and necessity of all the spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 12), especially prophecy, they do not consider themselves specifically pentecostal or charismatic.
The community refers to Him who most term Jesus as Yahshua, the Hebrew name given to Him in Matthew 1:21 and by Him in Acts 26:14-15.
The communities place heavy emphasis on obedience to the commands of the Son of God, and not merely belief in his atonement. They believe that such obedience, particularly in loving one another as their Savior loved them (John 13:34), is necessary for a person to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21). They recognize that, while a person is irreversibly saved from eternal damnation by grace through faith (which is a gift from God), participation in the Millennial kingdom and the first resurrection must be striven for and attained, according to Luke 13:24-28 and Philippians 3:8-12. They believe that this is what the Son of God was referring to when he said, "If anyone keeps my word, he shall never see death". (John 8:31-32, 51).
Organization. The Messianic Communities in New England are each established according to a New Testament pattern, and share their goods as did the church at Jerusalem, following the words of the Master in Luke 14:33. A council of elders oversees each local setting, while a regional council coordinates the interaction between communities. There is no central headquarters, nor do the individual communities consider themselves to be part of a denomination. Each one derives its name from the geographical location, and thus known simply as the Community in Island Pond, Dorchester, etc.
The group has an Internet site at http://www.twelvetribes.com.
Membership: As of 1995, the membership of the Messianic Communities is estimated at 650 in the United States and an additional 200 in France, and less than 100 each in Canada, New Zealand, and Brazil.
Periodicals: New England Freepaper.
The Constitution, Abiding Laws or Empty Words. Island Pond, VT: Island Pond Freepaper, 1987.
Nori, Don. "Persecution at Island Pond."Charisma10, no. 4 (November 1984).
Palmer, Susan J. "Frontiers and Mailies: The Children of Island Pond." In Children in the New Religions. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999, pp. 153–71.
——. Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers: Women's Roles in New Religions. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1994.
Swantko, Jean A. An Issue of Control: Conflict Between the Church in Island Pond and State Government. Palenville, NY: The Author, 1998.
Wanted: The Answer to Abortion. Island Pond, VT: Island Pond Freepaper, .
Universal Industrial Church of the New World Comforter
PO Box 1241
Santa Rosa, CA 95402-1241
The Universal Industrial Church of the New World Comforter was formed by Allen Michael Noonan, who in 1947 in Long Beach, California, was contacted by extraterrestrial intelligences for the first time. According to Noonan, generally known simply as Allen Michael, in that first contact he (i.e., the entity within his body) was transported up a beam of light to what he later recognized as a spaceship. While aboard, he was given the choice to be a channel of the "everlasting gospel," fulfilling Jesus' prophecy in John 16: 7-14 of "the Comforter" that would come. He accepted the mission, and since that time has devoted his life to channeling (through automatic writing) Spirit God's plan for the transformation of this planet.
Twenty years later, in 1967, the first members of the One World Family Commune came together in San Francisco's Haight/ Ashbury District, inspired by the truth they recognized being channelled through Allen Michael and sharing with him the vision of eliminating money and bringing about a world of sharing and serving (love). They felt that the usury money system perpetuated subjugation of materiality in a duality of consciousness, and limited progress toward the synthesis of "one for all and all for one," which according to Michael, would have been the next stage in the evolution of consciousness had Article I, Section 8, paragraph 5 of the United States Constitution been upheld.
The commune also recognized that a change in diet to one of natural food was basic to higher consciousness and health. As a means of supporting themselves, as well as a service to the community, members operated the Here and Now Natural Food Restaurant in Haight/Ashbury. In 1971, the commune moved to Berkeley, California, where they opened the One World Family Natural Food Center on Telegraph Avenue, which included a large restaurant, a pizzeria, a bakery, a handmade clothing shop, and an entertainment hall.
While still in Berkeley, in 1973, the group founded the Universal Industrial Church of the New World Comforter, in recognition of themselves as the "church of God rising out of the people." They viewed Michael as the channel of energies described by the archangel in Daniel 12:1. Michael is believed to have been given the keys to prophecy in the Bible therein, so that these days of tribulation might be shortened for the sake of the elect, and, with the World Master Plan, people will arise out of subjugation to materiality into a world sharing economy and God-consciousness.
The means they advocated for ending the dying world order and bring about the New World Order of the Ages (the "Novo Ordo Seclorum" pictured on the Great Pyramid seal on the American dollar bill) is through the World Wide Work Stoppage 30/30 Plan. Michael suggests that all businesses that provide no real service or anything of true value, be stopped and that people begin to rotate on a 30-day cycle with half the people providing all the goods and services to the other half, who travel, rest, and recreate. This action would automatically lift the vibrational energies (consciousness) out of duality into synthesis–"one for all and all for one"–which is Spirit God's prophesied heaven on earth, the kingdom of God.
The church has, through its publishing arm, Starmast Publications (Box 1241, Santa Rosa, CA 95402), produced a series of books which detail the teachings of the church as channeled through Michael. It has also produced a popular natural foods cookbook and a series of video tapes for airing on cable television.
Membership: Not reported.
Periodicals: Galatic Messenger.
Allen Michael. ETI Space Beings Intercept Earthlings. Starmast Publications, 1977.
——. The Everlasting Gospel, God, Unlimited Mind Speaks. Stockton, CA: Starmast Publications, 1982.
——. The Everlasting Gospel, to the Youth of the World. Berkeley, CA: Universal Industrial Church of the Divine Comforter, 1973.
——. UFO-ETI World Master Plan. Starmast Publications, 1977.
Hannaford, Kathryn. Cosmic Cookery. Stockton, CA: Starmast Publications, 1974.
West Coast Communities
℅ Church of the Sojourners
San Francisco, CA 94110
West Coast Communities is a fellowship of conservative Christian communities located along the West Coast of the United States from Washington to Southern California that emerged in the 1980s. The fellowship consists of a number of largely autonomous communities with varying Christian traditions dominating from community to community. They have a program with twin foci of development of a strong intimate fellowship and outreach in the community. Formal leadership is elected, but in practice leadership is demonstrated by individuals as new issues arise and affirmed informally by the community.
West Coast Communities is a conservative Christian community and largely apolitical, though individual members may be politically active. The groups tend to be anti-abortion and antihomosexuality, and in favor of home schooling.
Membership: Not reported. In 1996, there were four communities affiliated with the West Coast communities.