The Family International
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. Rosenblum formed the foundation in 1969 as an outgrowth of 20 years of communal living with the Hutterian Brethren (Society of Brothers) and other groups. The goal of the foundation’s research is to bring a new age of love to the planet and thus avoid chaos as present systems decline.
In order for research, which includes communal living, to be pursued, the total commitment of the individual members is required. The foundation’s intimate communal structure allows members to help each other with personal problems. 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 Rosenblum traveled to Moscow, where he met with Georgi Arbatov, a high-level Soviet adviser 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 Peter Gladkov, a scholar of American contemporary communal societies. It was Rosenblum’s opinion that communal societies demonstrate the basis for a new social order, in which today’s social problems could be solved through a loving approach. Rosenblum believed that most social problems are caused by unhappiness resulting from people’s lack of loving relationships with others. In 2002 Rosenblum died in an automobile accident at the age of 74.
One long-term project pursued by the foundation has been the exploration of methods of natural birth control. The major focus has been on the research of Dr. Eugen Jonas of Czechoslovakia, who studied the relation between female fertility and astrological cycles. The foundation has sought to update Jonas’s research, and in a book currently in its sixth edition, has reported the experiences of women using Jonas’s method.
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.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Bride of Christ Church was established 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 a church. Smith advocated a form of what he termed Christian socialism, an approach that 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 a 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 group-owned businesses to support the members. Women work at the center in Azalea.
Tims, Dana. “Azalea Sect Riles Region.” Oregonian, April 7, 1988.
Ridgewood Ranch, 16200 N Hwy. 201, Willits, CA 95490
Christ’s Church of the Golden Rule emerged in 1944 following conversations among a group of Christian men and women who shared a concern about existing religious and economic practices and their perceived failure to meet the spiritual and material needs of humanity. These conversations were held in the context of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ, especially the Golden Rule and Jesus’ words, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness [right-use-ness] and all these things will be added unto you”(Matthew 6:33). The group concluded that these directions had not, to their knowledge, been followed since the days of the early Christian church described in Acts 2:44 and Acts 4:32. They agreed that they should respond to Jesus’words and actually attempt to live his teachings and thus demonstrate to their contemporaries whether living such principles would overcome poverty, war, and insecurity, and in the process make possible a worldwide brotherhood of humanity.
They investigated ways in which to structure their ideals and concluded that the formation of a church was the best way both to modify their understanding in a community and meet the necessary legal requirements that would allow them the greatest freedom of action. They formed Christ’s Church of the Golden Rule in January 1944.
The church’s creed is the Golden Rule, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12). The church understands the Rule as working in one direction; it never applies to the manner in which others treat you, but always the way you treat others. The church’s goal is stated in its vision: “A World free from want, with liberty and justice for all, and with understanding love toward God and one another. This day’s work is dedicated to the end that we may prove that it is more blessed to give than to receive, and that it is true that giving does not impoverish nor does withholding enrich.”
The teachings of the church are summarized in its brief declaration of faith. It affirms belief in the one true God, conceived as Father-Mother; Jesus of Nazareth who came to reveal God to humankind and who was possessed of the eternal Christ (Truth); the authority of the Holy Bible; salvation by repentance and regeneration through the Truth, the mind of God that is Jesus Christ; and the essence of true religion as loving God. It also teaches that equality in economic affairs is the only foundation on which to build a humane world.
In 1944 and 1945 some 850 people signed up as founding members of the church and gave up their personal wealth, family, and social ties, and moved onto the church’s property. At the same time, 100 pieces of property, primarily along the West Coast, were donated and a few additional pieces purchased for church use. Resident training centers were established on these properties.
By 1945 the church’s property was valued at approximately $3 million. That same year some of the founding members decided that they did not wish to remain church members. They withdrew and began legal proceedings to retrieve property they had donated. California’s attorney general joined that effort and moved to place the church into a receivership. The church responded by filing voluntary bankruptcy proceedings in federal court. The costly legal battle, which finally went in favor of the church, lasted for six years. Not only did many members leave, but much of the church’s property was sold during this period and the value of the church’s holdings was reduced to several hundred thousand dollars.
In 1951 the church, in effect, had to rebuild the working model with which they had begun. In 1953 the church’s seminary in San Francisco, an important training center, was sold and property purchased near Bolinas, California. In the early 1960s that property was included in a government plan to create the Point Reyes National Seashore Park.
In 1962 the church purchased the 16,00-acre Ridgewood Ranch in Mendocino County. Over the next few years the church’s other centers, including those in Colorado and Wyoming, were closed and consolidated at the ranch. During the next two decades the property was improved to house up to 100 residents. The church erected private housing for students, a chapel–dining room complex, a social lounge, a food processing unit, business and accounting office, a publications department, school building, and library. Facilities are available to welcome people making inquiry about church membership and other visitors.
The Church of the Golden Rule was legally recognized as a church in 1964. It is directed by an advisory board of elders. All resident members of the church live communally. No property or income can inure to any individual and all is used for the benefit of the church. No outside donations are solicited, though gifts are accepted for the spread of the church’s message, especially through its publications. The church operates a variety of business enterprises that have allowed the community to be largely self-supporting. Members of the church are active in the larger community. The church’s facilities are available to different religious, cultural, and educational groups.
In 2002 the church reported approximately 65 members, most of whom reside at the ranch in Willits. Other adherents subscribe to the church’s teachings but reside elsewhere.
The church has often been associated with a previously existing movement, Mankind United. Leaders of the church strongly deny any such connection beyond the bare fact that some of the founding members had been associated with that movement and the two organizations happen to share some concerns for the economic injustice present in society. However, the church was founded independently of that movement and has through its 50 years of existence demonstrated its adherence to its religious teachings.
The Essence of Our Teachings. Willits, CA: Christ’s Church of the Golden Rule, 1971.
Our Golden Rule Crusade. 2 vols. Willits, CA: Christ’s Church of the Golden Rule, 1963.
Our Golden Rule Way of Life. Willits, CA: Christ’s Church of the Golden Rule, 1967.
355 Marshall Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102-1898
Christ’s Household of Faith is a large urban Christian communal group that dates to 1965, the year in which 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 self-reflection 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 members were employed burned down, and the group left Mora and resettled in St. Paul, Minnesota. Members found temporary lodging in houses in one of the poorer sections of the city. They survived by developing a maintenance repair business, by living off of the abundance of a throwaway culture, and by 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 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.
In 1995 the group had approximately 500 members, of whom 300 were minors.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Church of Jesus Christ at Armageddon was founded by Love Israel—a former television salesman named Paul Erdman—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, in which 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. Because 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, members 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 is 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 with an eternal place within the Body of Christ.
During the 1970s the church enjoyed steady growth, reaching a residential population of around 300 members by 1983. Members’ unorthodox appearance and lifestyle made them the object of considerable controversy and a target for anti-cultists and deprogrammers. For a short while, church members participated as “observers” in the Church Council of Greater Seattle. The church’s headquarters was a handmade mansion on Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill, surrounded by a compact “village” of residences, gardens, and shops. Members 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 1983 an internal power struggle and a lawsuit by a former member severely disrupted the church community, and most of the group’s 350 members chose to leave. The remaining members relocated to a 300-acre ranch near Arlington, Washington; Love Israel moved to California, where he worked as a banker. When he returned to Seattle, the ranch became the organization’s new headquarters and provided a cultural center for those members who remained dispersed throughout the region.
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.
In 2002, the group reported approximately 100 members. Membership was unknown as of 2008.
In 2003 Love Israel, who had been rumored to have lavishly spent the financial assets members had contributed to the group, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The organization’s numerous businesses and cottage industries failed, and leaders turned more and more to supporting the Family on credit. Other controversies—including many zoning and land-use violations as well as allegations of drug use, sexual misconduct, and cult behavior—had plagued the group for years. In the bankruptcy settlement, Israel was able to reclaim land he owned in Stevens County, Washington; he sold the Arlington ranch to Union for Reform Judaism, which planned to use the site as a children’s summer camp. As of 2008 the remaining members of the Love Israel Family were still together and had recently established an online presence with their Web site.
Love Israel Family. www.loveisraelfamily.com.
Allen, Steve. Beloved Son. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1982.
Israel, Love. Love. Seattle, WA: Church of Armageddon, 1971.
Kershaw, Sarah. “Commune to Close, after Years of Strife and Striving.” New York Times, December 25, 2003.
Langston, Jennifer. “Bankruptcy May Be Love Israel Family’s Salvation.” seattlepi.com, March 1, 2003. seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/110637_loveisrael01.shtml.
2025 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036
The Church of the Saviour was initially formed in the early 1940s in Washington, D.C., by a group of nine people headed by Gordon and Mary Cosby, former Baptists. It was incorporated as a church in 1947. The vision of the new ministry was one of ecumenicity and evangelism, and total commitment of life and resources to Christ. The communal existence was seen as representative of men and women reconciled and reconciling with humanity. The result has been a community dedicated both to the nurture of the inner spiritual life and to the outward life of service.
The church has identified its mission as having four purposes: to serve Christ’s church throughout the world, alleviate the suffering of the poor and oppressed, address the spiritual and physical needs of the stranger in our midst, and to build a common, egalitarian life. To carry out its missions, the Church of the Saviour in 1994 became a “scattered community” of eight small faith communities, each with its own distinct “vision, missions, and structures”; in 2008 two more groups were added, for a total of 10. The members of each group devote themselves to their group’s stated purpose while maintaining close ties with the larger church through missionary activity and participation in the church’s School of Christian Living. Once a year members meditate on their purpose and relationship to the larger group and then have the opportunity to either renew or withdraw from their covenant with the church. Each faith community holds its own worship services throughout the week, and a Sunday morning service is open to all Church of the Saviour members.
In 2008 six Church of the Saviour faith communities, still with the active participation of the Cosbys, were exploring new avenues to becoming the “authentic church.” These communities were experimenting with the creation of small groups of individuals with commonly perceived social differences—in wealth, class, gender, race, sexual orientation, and so on—to break down barriers and develop ways to heal.
Church of the Saviour runs numerous missions in Washington, D.C., that address various social welfare issues, including low-income medical clinics, treatment and housing centers for addiction and AIDS patients, early child development centers, community development, arts programs for children, job placement services, affordable housing, transitional housing for abused women and children, and centers for senior citizens. An additional program is called Inward/Outward, which is designed to enrich members’spiritual and activist journeys.
In 2008 the church reported nine churches, all in the Washington, D.C., area. In 1992 the church reported 165 full members and 600 in its worship community.
Servant Leadership School at the Festival Center, Washington, D.C.
School of Christian Living, Washington, D.C.
The Diaspora. 9301-B Westcott Pl., Rockville, MD 20850. www.thediaspora.org.
Inward/Outward: A Project of the Church of the Saviour. www.inwardoutward.org/.
Cosby, Gordon. Handbook for Mission Groups. Washington, DC: Potter’s House, 1973.
O’Connor, Elizabeth. Call to Commitment. New York: Harper & Row, 1963.
———. Cry Pain, Cry Hope. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1987.
———. Eighth Day of Creation. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1971.
———. Journey Inward, Journey Outward. New York: Harper & Row, 1968.
———. The New Community. New York: Harper & Row, 1976.
Burnt Ranch, CA 95527
The Colony was begun August 18, 1940, by its founder, Brother John Korenchan (1886–1982), and eighteen members who settled on the Trinity River near Hawkins Bar, California. Brother John, who had been raised as a Catholic, had his spiritual awakening in 1912, when, after five days of fasting and prayer, he was made to feel as a child without fault or law-breaking against the Creator. He wandered through the Siskiyou and Trinity Counties for years, and spent a few months in jail for his pacifism during World War I. As World War II began, he gathered a group of followers in Seattle. This group was finally led to California. Over the years, the group turned the area into a 16-acre farm. After his death, Brother John was succeeded by Sister Agnes Vanderhoof, the only surviving member of the original group.
There are no rules, not even grace at meals. Moderation, not abstinence, is the goal. Brother John taught that religion is meaningless unless it comes from within and is lived. Emphasis is placed on the guidance of the Power. The Power guided members to the Colony, brings in new members as it will, and discerns who is ready for the Truth, Christ.
In 1988 the Colony reported 13 residents, all of whom had lived there at least 12 years. Others come in regularly for group activities.
The Family International
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, PMB 102, Washington, DC 20006-1846
Family Information Desk, 27 Old Gloucester St., London WC1N 3XX England.
The Family International (previously known as the Children of God, the Family of Love, and the Family), an international network of Christian communes, was founded in 1968. The group, an offshoot of the Jesus movement, 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 that had been established by Assemblies of God minister David Wilkerson, turned over to Berg’s teenage children the use of the group’s Christian coffeehouse in Huntington Beach, California, known as the Light Club.
The Light Club had ministered primarily to surfers and hippies, but it changed direction dramatically in 1969. Berg, agreeing with revelations received by other members that an earthquake was imminent, decided the club members should leave California. Berg and those who followed him split into three groups and crisscrossed North America for eight months, a journey the group compared to the exodus of the Hebrew children led by 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 of COG grew, adding converts encountered on the streets of various cities, many of whom were 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 that occasionally included apocalyptic warnings.
During the early 1970s opposition to the COG grew among the parents of youthful members (most were in their late teens and early twenties), many of whom had joined the group after knowing it only briefly and had left their former lives behind to serve as missionaries for the group. Some parents were opposed to Berg’s teachings and communal practices and charged that COG was a destructive cult. The parents organized FREECOG (Free Our Children from the Children of God), the first contemporary cult awareness group. As pressure built against the COG in the United States and new mission opportunities opened in Europe through the mid-1970s, many members left the United States. Though some members remained in the United States, 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”—that is, using their feminine charms to allure men and set up opportunities for witnessing God’s love to others. Such activity could, and frequently did, lead the women to have sexual relationships with the men, the “fish.”
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 and embezzlement of unauthorized tithes. 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,” which was shortend a short time later to “the Family.” The chaos of the RNR abated only in the spring of 1981 with the “Fellowship Revolution,” when 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 partners. After the Fellowship Revolution herpes spread through the group and sexual contacts were limited. Later, in 1987, the “flirty fishing” ministry was curtailed not only because of risk of disease but also because of the need to divert attention to the care of a growing number of children born to group members. Also at that time, leaders initiated a new outreach ministry, the “Daily Food,” or DFing ministry. Its focus was on more thoroughly following up with those to whom Family members had witnessed in order to deepen their relationships with Jesus Christ.
The Family developed out of the evangelical Protestantism of the Jesus People movement, but it differed from other Jesus People groups on three points. First, Father David, or Dad, as he was affectionately known in the movement, claimed 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. Second, the group identified Father David as the prophet of the end-time and associated him with the David referred to in Ezekiel 34 and 37, Hosea 3, and Jeremiah 30. Third, the COG advocated “forsaking all” and dropping out of the “system” in order to live a communal lifestyle dedicated to God’s service, patterned after the lifestyle of the early church in the Bible’s Book of Acts.
Through the 1970s Father David developed the concept of the Law of Love as the group’s overarching ethical principle, based on Matt. 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, which was 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 was formally presented in “Our Statement of Faith” in 1992. 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 described in Gal. 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 coming 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. A special candlelight service often held on New Year’s Eve is the most liturgical of the Family’s worship life.
Full-time Family members known as Family disciples 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 members’ 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. The Family has developed a comprehensive program for converts known as the “12 Foundation Stones” that introduces them to the basic tenets of Christianity, as well as to fundamental Family beliefs as expressed in the Family’s Statement of Faith.
The Family has a number of levels of membership that represent different membership requirements and degrees of commitment. The FD (Family disciple) level of membership 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 and three managers elected by the adult and older teen members. An international leadership structure of regional 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 at the age of 75 and was succeeded by his wife Maria, who had been the active administrative head for some years. The announcement of his death to the larger world was soon followed by the announcements of significant changes in the group’s 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 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 and Maria for many years. Peter took on the role of co-spiritual and -administrative leader to the Family.
The Love Charter takes great pains to spell out not only the responsibilities, but also the rights of individual members. They include 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 ensures that parents have the time and resources to care for their children properly. One day per 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.
In November 2007 the Family reported 7,346 Family Discipleship and Missionary members worldwide, of which approximately 2,500 are children and youths. There are 626 Family communities in more than 85 countries. In the United States family homes are found in suburban Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, and Detroit. In addition to the 7,000 full-time members, there are some 2,000 members who do not reside in Family homes, though many did at one time. These members, known as fellow members, tithe to support the Family’s work and receive the Family’s literature. The Family also has some 4,500 nontithing members who receive Family literature and contribute to mission work in some way. The total membership of the Family is 13,919.
The Good News. • Family Specials News Magazine! • Link. • The END (Endtime News Digest). • Activated!
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 group of former members, including Deborah Davis, the eldest daughter of David Berg, organized into a group, No Longer Children, that focused attacks on the Family. After several years No Longer Children discontinued their counter-Family initiatives, but new coalitions of former members continue to oppose the Family International and its programs. A movement for reconciliation begun in the 1990s seeks to resolve the remaining issues between the Family and its disaffected members.
While the thrust of the attacks upon the Family has generally followed standard cult awareness rhetoric, in the 1990s attacks concentrated on accusations of child abuse. Critics of the Family charged it with institutionalizing child abuse during the period immediately following the RNR in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Family’s leadership responded by acknowledging that prior to the adoption of their child-protection policies in 1986, cases of adult-minor sexual contact occurred. These cases were addressed in the mid-1980s when the leadership instituted strong rules barring any such activity. In the wake of these accusations, government child-protection service agencies moved against the Family in Australia, Argentina, Spain, France, and England in the early 1990s. A number of judicial proceedings were initiated, the most notable being one in the British family court. All of the proceedings ended in the Family’s favor, although in the 1995 British case Justice Ward issued a detailed report recounting past offenses for which he held the Family collectively and David Berg individually responsible.
As a byproduct of the legal proceedings, more than 600 children from the Family were examined by either government-appointed or private physicians and therapists, and charges of ongoing child abuse proved to be unfounded. Since the early 1990s there have been no cases of child abuse among the youth and children residing in Family communities. Regarding the abuse that occurred in the 1980s, the Family issued apologies to former members beginning in the 1990s. The most recent apology was published in 2007.
The Family International. www.thefamilyinternational.org.
Chancellor, James D. Life in the Family: An Oral History of the Children of God. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2000.
David, Moses (David Berg). The Basic Mo Letters. Hong Kong: Gold Lion Publishers, 1976.
Bainbridge, William S. The Endtime Family—The Children of God. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002.
The Love Charter. Zurich, Switzerland: The Family, 1998.
Melton, J. Gordon. The Family/The Children of God. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2004.
“Mo”(David Berg). The True Story of Moses and the Children of God. N.p.: Children of God, 1972.
100 The Farm, Summertown, TN 38483
The Farm grew out of weekly Monday-evening teaching sessions held during the 1960s and 1970s in San Francisco, California. These meetings were led by San Francisco State University graduate student Stephen Gaskin (b. 1935), at that time known simply as Stephen. He soon became a well-known spiritual philosopher and published two books, Caravan (1972) and Monday Night Class (1974). 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 on 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, 10 other independent communities (including one in Canada) formed around Stephen’s teachings. Though administratively autonomous, they considered themselves tied to the Farm. All these associated communities 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, in part by helping to pay off a large debt. Because of austerity measures instituted 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 1980.
The philosophy of the Farm has always been based on the principles of mutual respect, nonviolence, environmental sustainability, and a low-consumption lifestyle. In the later 1990s these principles evolved into a more focused goal, and the Farm became involved in the burgeoning ecovillage movement. In the early 2000s ecovillages had begun to spring up around the world, in both rural and urban areas, incorporating many of the same ideas about environmentalism upon which the Farm was founded. Also called green cities, these communities rely on alternative energy sources, sustainable agriculture (also known as permaculture), ecological design and building, and a semi-communitarian way of living—all hallmarks of the lifestyle of the Farm, which is an active member of the Global Ecovillage Network.
Other nonprofit Farm-based groups include Plenty International, founded by the Farm in 1974. Believing that the earth is capable of feeding and sustaining all life, Plenty aims to provide food and health self-sufficiency for all. The multiplication of food protein by vegetarianism is a basic principle of Plenty’s approach, along with the group’s support of the rights of women, indigenous peoples, children, and the elderly. It is recognized as a United Nations nongovernmental agency.
The Farm also 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. In keeping with their deep reverence for life, the members are pacifists and 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 issues. 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.
In 2008 there were approximately 150 residents at the Farm.
The Birth Gazette. Available from 42 The Farm, Summertown, TN 38483. • Plenty News. Available from PO Box 394, Summertown, TN 38483. • Natural Rights. Available from PO Box 90, Summertown, TN 38483. • ENNA, the Journal of the Ecovillage Network of North America. Available from PO Box 90, Summertown, TN 38483.
The Farm. www.thefarm.org.
The Farm. www.thefarmcommunity.com.
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 public awareness 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. One popular theory held that the Finders were a front for a secret CIA kidnapping program.
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 tough and strong children who would be raised on a model developed from the group’s knowledge of the Indians of the plains. Each child would be raised by the group as a whole rather than by his or her 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.
Mintz, John, and Marc Fisher. “Ex-Finders Tell of Games, Complex Beliefs.” Washington Post, February 8, 1987.
920 W Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60640
Jesus People USA is one of several groups that grew out of the Jesus People revival of the early 1970s. It is also among the few that have retained the communal lifestyle so prominent in the movement’s early years. The group began in 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 to 200 members, with three pastors, and had begun to publish Street Level, an early Jesus People paper. Most of the followers lived communally. In April 1972, Palosaari 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, and augmented their evangelistic endeavor with a Jesus rock band, Resurrection, and a street-theater drama troupe, the Holy Ghost Players. 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. In January 1973 they settled in Chicago, Illinois, 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. Jesus People USA became affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church in 1990 and now exists as a community within the church’s worldwide fellowship.
Jesus People USA has adopted a 10-point statement of belief that 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 or the necessity of speaking in tongues. There are two ordinances: baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper.
Leadership of the ministry is exercised by eight co-pastors (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 who live on-site 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; a crisis pregnancy center; and housing for the homeless. There are a number of musical groups, and 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, painting, and the sale of second-hand merchandise.
In 2008 Jesus People USA reported about 500 members, living in five residence buildings. There is also a farm in rural Missouri, and the festival site near Bushnell, Illinois.
Jesus People USA. www.jpusa.org.
PO Box 410068, San Francisco, CA 94141-0068
The roots of the Kerista Commune can be traced to 1956, when a former businessman named John Presmont had a mystical revelatory experience, which initiated a search for meaningful religiousness and communal living. An attempt to restructure sexual attitudes and achieve sexual liberation was also a persistent element in what became a lengthy life quest. Several different efforts to organize a communal group 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, as Presmont came to be known, met a young woman named Eve Furchgott in San Francisco, California. Known as Even Eve, she was also a communalist, and with several others of like mind, the two 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 the group’s existence. Early members formed what they termed a living school residence group, later renamed a superfamily, then a polyfidelitous closed group, and, finally, 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 were ideally members of a best friend identity cluster, an intimate family unit loyal to the members of their cluster (36 people: 18 women and 18 men), and related to all of them on an equal basis. Members of Kerista not yet part of a cluster were celibate. Members and clusters could be heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual. All clusters were heterosexual, though there were attempts to form homosexual clusters. The oldest cluster was 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, sadomasochistic sexuality, bestiality, pedophilia, incest, and sexual exhibitionismwere not allowed. Overt public displays of physical attraction between members of the Kerista tribe were frowned upon.
The Keristians organized the Kerista Consciousness Church. They believed in a pantheistic divinity, a Totality, called Kyrallah. Kyrallah, It, is the one and only reality. Keristians believed 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. Sister Kerista, in the Keristan mythology, was 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 workers’paradise, based on horizontal democracy, worker self-management, and exacting kibbutz-style communal and equalitarian structures. Sexism, ageism, and racism were not tolerated. Each person was treated as an economic equal, and policy decision-making was by majority rule of the general assembly. Children were raised by the entire community and education was provided by their own school, called the EZ Learning Academy. Integral to the ongoing life of the community was the Gestalt-O-Rama process, which helped generate group commitment and motivation, solved conflicts, and enhanced self-esteem within the community. In both formal and informal settings, members were encouraged to foster a passionate sense of mission and to avoid and transcend negative behavior and attitudes, while cultivating and reinforcing positive traits. Members were 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 revolved around 88 basic behavior standards. Community rap groups were also open to non-Keristans who wanted to participate in the growth process.
Several structures developed to further the community’s goal of creating a scientific utopian society. These included the Club Utopia Growth Co-op, the Performing Arts Social Society (which published several of the group’s periodicals), the Alliance for Creative Philanthropy, the New School of Utopian Psychology, and the Node Unity Alliance. Keristans hoped to create a transnational kibbutz movement whose members, like themselves, would reduce per capita costs via cooperative living and use the surplus to fund philanthropic 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 Even Eve 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, in order to continue to perpetuate the Keristan ideals. The small group reorganized as a theater arts repertory company and tried to build a larger network of support to spread the Keristan program for a prosperous future.
As of 2008, a Web site dedicated to eulogizing the group noted that the Kerista Commune officially ceased to exist in 1991.
Kerista Commune. www.kerista.com.
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.
Box 240, 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 that spread so widely throughout the counterculture in the 1960s. The foundation began when Steve Durkee, his wife, and three children settled on the 115-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 spiritualism, and Christianity. During the summer, the community enlarges to more than 30 people, and a summer retreat program is maintained. A wide variety of spiritual teachers spend 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.
Foundation activities center on the main Dome, which includes within it a library, prayer room, and bathhouse. 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).
Following a devastating forest fire in the mountains that destroyed most of its compound in 1996, the Lama Foundation developed a focus on ecological sustainability. As of 2008, rebuilding continues, and the group has committed itself to environmentalism as a component of achieving human spiritual awakening.
About 10 to 15 people live year-round at the Lama Foundation, and approximately 30 are in residence through the summer.
Lama Foundation. www.lamafoundation.org.
Dass, Baba Ram. Be Here Now. San Cristobal, 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.
Nazir Path 970 MC 5029, Saint Joe, AR 72675
The Nahziryah Monastic Community, also known as the Nazir Order of the Purple Veil, is an esoteric spiritual community based in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. It is founded and led by Rev. Nazirmoreh K. B. Kedem. Followers are often referred to as the “Purple People” by outsiders because of their use of purple-colored clothing. Rev. Kedem ran the Veil of Truth Center for Metaphysical and Esoteric Learning in New Orleans from 1988 to 1999 and then moved his community to Arkansas in 1999.
The community members live on property of 103 acres. They share meals together and maintain a strict vegan diet. Organic gardening helps supply the community’s dietary needs. The community forbids the use of alcohol and tobacco. There are four levels of membership, from the initial enquirer to the fully committed residential member. The community shares all resources and raises money through sales of oils, incense, jewels, sarongs, aromatherapy supplies, artwork, door beads, and so on.
Kedem claims a spiritual lineage from his father and grandfather, but provides no actual details of his background and training. He claims that he began to understand his true identity when he found an old book that held the key to unlock his previous lives. His writings reflect a mixture of Western esoteric and advaitist Hindu elements, somewhat reflected in their belief that all religions teach the same truths. The community’s pluralistic and advaitist perspective is reflected in this statement: “Many paths—One goal. What is our religion?—all of them. Where are we from?—everywhere. We strive to transcend all limitations. Our consciousness narrows when we crystallize ourselves in the consciousness of being from a country, a state, a city, a street, a house, a spot and so on. We are not these bodies. We expand our consciousness and our understanding when we align with the higher Truths of Being.”
Not reported. The community has a rule against numbering itself.
Nahziryah Monastic Community. www.nmcnews.org.
Purple People Place. www.thepurplepeople.org.
c/o Rachel Summerton, PO Box 334, Avoca, IN 47420
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 that led to the building of Padanaram as a microcosmic 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. Community 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:
- As one would that others do, do unto others.
- Hold all things in common, count nothing one’s own.
- Distribution to each according to the need.
- Of one who has much, much is required.
- 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 withstanding unfriendly feelings in the area. Today, two conventions are held annually (in May and October), and an open house in October brings individuals from 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 all 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 the group’s teachings, many villages like Padanaram Settlement will be formed as self-sufficient villages. The group believes that together, these villages will lead humanity out of its jungle-like past into a world of economic cooperation, peace, and security.
As of 2008 there were 70 adults and 70 children living at the settlement.
Wright and Padanaram have been heavily criticized for establishing a patriarchal and sexist social order. In response, Wright has defended the differentiation of gender roles at Padanaram as proper, biblical, and in keeping with both the equality of the sexes and 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, ed. Jon Wagner. Bloomington: 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.
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; b. 1945), the Rainbow Family of Living Light is a loosely organized network of individuals, informal groups, and communes that 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 is 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 adherents often describe the essence of community as a new tribal consciousness.) These annual meetings began with a small “Vortex” gathering in Oregon around 1970. The first 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.
The beliefs of the Rainbow Family center on ecology and on the psychic/spiritual world much discussed in the 1960s. Basic is a nature-pantheism expressed in the statement of belief, “God is you, God is me, God is the World, God is the Sky, God is the Sun.” The Family’s ecological emphasis is expressed in a love of nature and of the outdoors. Adherents believe that everything in nature was placed there for human use (not abuse). Marijuana is one of the God-created herbs, and is viewed as having sacramental value. All forms of pollutants are opposed.
The Family’s psychic worldview is expressed in the incorporation of numerous practices borrowed from a wide variety of groups and religious 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 reincarnation, but with a distinct, worldly interest. Christ-consciousness is conceived of as a mystical state, but is signaled by a person’s making others happy, doing good deeds, 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 considered 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.
No membership roles are kept, but a directory of the family’s network is published irregularly. Several thousand people are involved. The family claims that as many as 10,000 share its free lifestyle. In 1984 some 28,000 people 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. By the early 2000s, there were Rainbow Family gatherings in South Africa and the Middle East as well.
Rainbow Family of Living Light. www.welcomehome.org/rainbow/index.html.
Garlington, Phil. “The Return of the Flower Children.” California 9, no. 10 (October, 1978): 81–83, 137–138.
The Rainbow Nation Cooperative Community Guide. McCall, ID: Rainbow Nation, 1972.
737 B Reba Pl., Evanston, IL 60204
Reba Place Church began in 1957 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 living 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 which the original group took its name. Growth in the 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 committed him- or herself 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 related 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—later renamed Shalom Mission Communities—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 servant-hood 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 multitraditional 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 daycare center and apartment rentals. Support is also given to individuals in the community. Reba Place is located in a racially mixed neighborhood, and it includes African, Asian, and Puerto Rican Americans in its fellowship. Resident members live in a variety of housing owned by the fellowship, including single-family houses, apartments, and shared houses.
In 2007 Reba Place Fellowship celebrated its 50-year anniversary.
According to its Web site, “As of January 2008 the Reba Place Fellowship consisted of 32 covenant members, 6 novice members, 17 practicing members, and 9 apprentices.”
Life Together. Available from Box 6017, Evanston, IL 60204. • RPC Information Exchange. Available from Box 6016, Evanston, IL 60204.
Plow Creek Fellowship and Church. www.plowcreek.org.
Reba Place Church. www.rebaplacechurch.org.
Reba Place Fellowship. www.rebaplacefellowship.org.
Shalom Mission Communities. www.shalomconnections.org.
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.
664-668 NE 61st St., Miami, FL 33137
REMAR International grew out of the religious experience of Miguel Dias, a native of Spain. A compulsive gambler, Dias converted to conservative evangelical Christianity in 1982 and founded a communal Christian group, which he named for the group’s goal of “REhabilitating MARginal people.” Additionally, 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 first group was located in Vitoria, in northern Spain. 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 appealing and evangelizing to addicts in the streets of the urban centers in which its communities are located and by inviting homeless people to take up residence in their homes to help them turn their lives around. In the United States, REMAR groups have been most active in Hispanic communities.
REMAR is a conservative charismatic (Pentecostal) group. Worship is lively and spirited and punctuated by the 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 receiving 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.
In 2008 there were REMAR communities in more than 40 countries.
REMAR International. www.remar.org.
Jansen, David. Fire, Salt, and Peace: Intentional Christian Communities Alive in North America. Evanston, IL: Shalom Mission Communities, 1996. 207 pp.
7419 E Brick School Rd., Rock City, IL 61070
Salem Acres is an eclectic commune founded in the late 1960s. It combines elements of Pentecostalism 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 has adopted a New Testament church order. The various gifts of the spirit are manifest, and these ministries are functioning. Women partake in the ministry, but men predominate. Spirited singing, testimonies, and prayer for the sick characterize services. The group has derived an emphasis on the Old Testament laws, particularly those concerning keeping the Sabbath and diet. Both the Lord’s Supper and baptism by immersion are practiced. The group operates Lakeview Academy for grades 4 to 12.
Not reported. There were approximately 50 residents in 1992. The group is loosely affiliated with like-minded congregations in other countries.
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. Its roots are in an independent church, the Bird Rock Fellowship, founded in 1971 in La Jolla, California, by a group of people affected by the revival. Within a year the group had evolved into 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. A 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 organized communally, and membership is granted only after a period during which an applicant’s commitment to the ideals of communal life is tested. Members relinquish personal property to the group, and the majority of meals are eaten together. Families live in separate family dwellings, however, 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 acknowledgment by the believer of having received forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
As of 2001 there were approximately 100 residents at Shepherdsfield.
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 built up around him a group that explored the effects of the drug’s use. Shivalila grew out of this experimental group.
Wright reasoned that the foundation of society emerged from the relationship of mother and child and hence that this relationship is the dimension in which microcosm and macrocosm intersect. Western society, based on 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 makes them 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, in addition to their experiments with 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 on the use of psychedelic drugs, a communal lifestyle, and the practice of Tantric yoga. Added emphasis was placed on the raising of children in an ideal environment, and the group often referred to itself as the Children’s Liberation Front. These emphases led group members to assume 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 commitments 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 concluding 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.
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.
72 Baker Rd., Shutesbury, MA 01072
Sirius 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 Corinne McLaughton and Gordon Davidson. It was named after the star that many believe to be, in an esoteric sense, 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 in Shutesbury, Massachusetts. 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, off-grid energy use, and a bio-diesel fuel coop. As of 2008 the group was integrating the principles of permaculture and was striving to become a full-fledged ecovillage
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 considered 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. Sirius sponsors a number of educational programs as well as hosting regular wellness retreats, which are open to the public.
In 1997 there were approximately 25 resident members.
Sirius Community. www.siriuscommunity.org.
McNaughton, Corinne, and Gordon Davidson. Builders of the Dawn: Community Lifestyles in a Changing World. Shutesbury, MA: Sirius Publishing, 1986.
PO Box 2008, Buellton, CA 93427
Sunburst—originally called the Solar Logos Foundation—is composed of spiritual seekers who 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 (1929–2006), a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda (1893–1952) 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. They 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), with 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.
Once a person has established direct mental and visual communication with God through 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, 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, Sunburst 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 Santa Barbara, and an organic farm near the sanctuary. In addition to being locations of association and work, these also function as places for reflection, meditation, and promotion of God-realization.
The foundation conducts regular daily group meditations and 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.
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 Magazine 1, no. 3 (winter 1975–1976): 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.
c/o The Community in Boston, 92 Melville Ave., Dorchester, MA 02124
The Twelve Tribes, formerly known as the Messianic Communities of New England, has roots that can be traced to Chattanooga, Tennessee. There, in 1972, Gene Spriggs (b. 1937) 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 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 an 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. The group operated six Yellow Delis, a bakery, and a restaurant and meetinghouse 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, located in a geographical area known as the Northeast Kingdom; the group was for a time called the Northeast Kingdom Community. They soon opened a business together called 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. 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; as a result, in 1979 the Vermont community invited the members in the South to move there.
Selling their properties and businesses in the South, the various communities began relocating to 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. With their lifestyle they sought to demonstrate openly 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 concern for 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 disciplining of 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 that 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 also began to send out workers to establish communities themselves. The groups in New England refer to themselves as the Messianic Communities of New England. As the communities entered the 1990s, they drew 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. The group also questions the need for racial integration, for which is has been called racist.
The Twelve Tribes communities support the traditional affirmations of evangelical Christianity, but are unrelated to any particular denominational family. They believe in an authoritative and inerrant Bible, the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, and his atonement. They look forward to 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 communities refer to Jesus as Yahshua, the Hebrew name given to him in Matthew 1:21 and used by Jesus himself in Acts 26:14–15.
The Twelve Tribes communities place heavy emphasis on obedience to the commands of the Son of God, as opposed to mere belief in his atonement. They believe that such obedience, particularly expressed through 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 Jesus was referring to when he said, “If anyone keeps my word, he shall never see death”(John 8:31–32, 51).
The Twelve Tribes communities are each established according to a New Testament pattern, and share their goods as did the church at Jerusalem, following the words of Jesus 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 derives its name from its geographical location, and thus is known simply as, for example, the Community in Island Pond, Dorchester, and so on.
As of 1995, the membership of the Messianic Communities was estimated at 650 in the United States and an additional 200 in France, with less than 100 each in Canada, New Zealand, and Brazil. In 2008 there were additional communities in Germany, Argentina, the United Kingdom, and Spain. Exact membership was unreported.
Twelve Tribes. www.twelvetribes.com.
The Constitution: Abiding Laws or Empty Words. Island Pond, VT: Island Pond Freepaper, 1987.
Nori, Don. “Persecution at Island Pond.” Charisma 10, 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. 153–171.
———. 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: Author, 1998.
Wanted: The Answer to Abortion. Island Pond, VT: Island Pond Freepaper, .
Universal Industrial Church of the New World Comforter (One World Family Commune, Galactic Messenger Network)
PO Box 1241, Santa Rosa, CA 95402-1241
The Universal Industrial Church of the New World Comforter was formed by Allen Michael Noonan (b. 1916), who in 1947 in Long Beach, California, claimed to have been contacted by extraterrestrial intelligences. 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,” and thus fulfill 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 believed was being channeled 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 Allen Michael, would have been the next stage in the evolution of consciousness had Article I, Section 8, paragraph 5 of the United States Constitution—which reads “Congress shall coin the money, and regulate the value thereof”—been upheld.
The commune also recognized that a diet of natural food was basic to higher consciousness and health. As a means of supporting themselves, as well as a way to provide 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 on Telegraph Avenue they opened the One World Family Natural Food Center, which included a large restaurant, a pizzeria, a bakery, a handmade clothing shop, and an entertainment hall.
In 1973, while still in Berkeley, 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 Allen Michael as the channel of energies described by the archangel in Daniel 12:1. Allen Michael is believed to have been given the keys to prophecy contained in the Bible, so that these days of tribulation might be shortened for the sake of the elect, and so that, with the aid of the World Master Plan, people will be able to arise out of subjugation to materiality into a world-sharing economy and God-consciousness.
The means advocated for ending the dying world order and bringing about the New World Order of the Ages (the “Novo Ordo Seclorum” pictured on the Great Pyramid seal on the American dollar bill) is the World Wide Work Stoppage 30/30 Plan. Allen 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 and into the synthesis—“one for all and all for one”—that 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 that detail the teachings of the church as channeled through Allen Michael. It has also produced a popular natural foods cookbook and a series of videotapes for airing on cable television. In August 2007 the group launched its Galactic Messenger Network, an interactive online multimedia center with a communal Web log, a radio station, Galactic Messenger TV, and downloadable videos and publications produced by Starmast Multimedia.
Not reported. As of 2008, members of the group were scattered geographically but still working toward a common goal, mostly via their Internet presence.
Galactic Messenger Network. www.galacticmessenger.com.
Allen Michael. ETI Space Beings Intercept Earthlings. Stockton, CA: 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.
c/o Church of the Sojourners, 866 Potero, San Francisco, CA 94110
West Coast Communities, which emerged in the 1980s, is a fellowship of conservative Christian communities located along the West Coast of the United States from Washington to Southern California. The fellowship consists of a number of largely autonomous communities, with varying Christian traditions dominating from community to community. Its two main foci are development of a strong intimate fellowship and outreach in the community. Formal leadership is elected, but in practice leadership is affirmed informally by the community when it is demonstrated by individuals as new issues arise.
West Coast Communities is largely apolitical, though individual members may be politically active. The groups tend to be anti-abortion and anti-homosexuality, and in favor of home schooling.
Not reported. In 1996 there were four communities affiliated with West Coast Communities.