Skip to main content

Universal Spiritualist Association

Universal Spiritualist Association

The Universal Spiritualist Association is an association of Spiritualist churches and clergy. It was originally founded in 1956 by Clifford Bias to issue credentials for Camp Chesterfield, which housed the seminary where many Spiritualist ministers and healers were trained and licensed. Until 1956, the Spiritualist Episcopal Church was in charge of the seminary. At that point the leaders of the new association, mostly former Spiritualist Episcopalians, assumed the administrative and faculty roles at the Chesterfield school, an arrangement that was cordial until 1970, when a dispute erupted between the camp and the association. The school reverted to the control of the Chesterfield staff, and the Universal Spiritualist Association conducted its own seminary. In 1985 the association moved to the Maple Grove Spiritual Retreat near Pendleton, Indiana, and opened the Institute for Holistic Studies. In 1993 the association moved headquarters once again to the Universal Institute for Holistic Studies at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

The Universal Spiritualist Association provides limited demonstrations of the physical phenomena of spiritualism for their institute registrants and candidates for the clergy, primarily for lack of demand.

Clifford Bias served as first president of the association until his death in 1986. He organized the Ancient Mystical Order of Seekers, the esoteric society for the association's ministers and more serious lay students. Bias' successor was Warren Smith, who retired in 1990. The association is presently led by T. Ernest Nichols. The president heads the association's general board, which charters churches and licenses ministers. A board of regents oversees the Institute for Holistic Studies. Both boards are elected at the annual membership-at-large meeting.

In 1990 the association reported 512 members in 14 churches, including one in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It publishes the magazine Banner of Light, and may be contacted at the Universal Institute for Holistic Studies, 4905 W. University Ave., Muncie, IN 47304-3460. Website:


Bias, Clifford. The Way Back. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1985.

Universal Spiritualist Manual. Universal Administration, Muncie, Ind.: Universal Spiritualist Association, n.d.

Wallace, Austin D. Thistle Presents Prince Nikeritis. Eaton Rapids, Mich.: Transcendental Science Publications, 1905.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Universal Spiritualist Association." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . 22 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Universal Spiritualist Association." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . (January 22, 2019).

"Universal Spiritualist Association." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved January 22, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.