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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: http://www.spiritualism.org.

Sources:

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.

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