International Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship

views updated

International Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship

An organization founded in 1956 by a group of Christian clergy and laypersons to explore an interest in paranormal phenomenaespecially the evidence for life after deathand to explore the life of prayer, meditation, mysticism, and spiritual healing. Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship (SFF) had its origin in a network of Christian leaders who had been influenced by the work of Spiritualist medium Arthur A. Ford, with whom many had private sittings. They had come to share Ford's opinion that much of the spiritual dryness so evident in many mainstream Christian churches could be attributed to a lack of direct experience of the spiritual world. In 1953 British church leaders had founded the Churches Fellowship for Spiritual and Psychical Studies, and SFF modeled itself on the British organization.

SFF issued a statement of "principles, purposes, and programs" that called for emphases on mystical prayer, spiritual healing, and the search for evidence of personal survival of death. While trying to revive the spiritual life of the churches, the group has been open to parapsychological perspectives and has supported a research committee. In 1972 it sponsored the development of an affiliated academic organization, the Academy of Religion and Psychical Research, which grew out of a recommendation of the organization's field director, J. Gordon Melton.

Through the years the organization has undergone several changes. In the early 1970s the original interest in mediumship and survival gave way to a primary interest in meditation and spiritual healing. During this time SFF experienced a period of rapid growth. The organization experienced a major overturn in leadership in 1974-75 and a period of organizational chaos. When it stabilized in the early 1980s, it was considerably weakened. It has also taken a new direction, identifying largely with the emerging New Age movement. The organization has largely cut its ties with conventional Christian churches.

In 1987 the headquarters of SFF were moved to 33210 Baring St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. It has recently added "International" to its name. It publishes a monthly newsletter and the Spiritual Frontiers journal.


Higgins, Paul Lambourne, ed. Frontiers of the Spirit. Minneapolis: T. S. Denison, 1976.

Rauscher, William V. The Spiritual Frontier. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1975.

Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship. Christianity and the Paranormal. Independence, Mo. The Author, 1986.

Wagner, Melinda Boiler. Metaphysics in Midwestern America. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1983.

About this article

International Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship

Updated About content Print Article


International Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship