Universal Spiritualist Association

Universal Spiritualist Association

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Universal Spiritualist Association was founded in 1956 by Clifford Bias, Robert Chaney, and Lillian Dee Johnson after the disruption of the Spiritualist Episcopal Church earlier that year. It was formed by those who sided with Rev. Dorothy Flexer.

The earlier Spiritual Episcopal Church, which was based at Camp Chesterfield, Indiana, had become divided after a morals charge had been brought against one of the main mediums, who was also a candidate for a church office. Flexer moved the church headquarters to Lansing, Michigan, and the church’s mediums were forbidden to work at Camp Chesterfield.

The Universal Spiritualist Association attempted materializations, but in 1960, the Psychic Observer published photographs showing outright fraud by mediums including Mabel Riffle and Penny Umbach. The association is today governed by a General Board composed of President, Vice President, Secretary and three Trustees. Churches within the association are autonomous, though chartered by the association. Where the earlier Spiritual Episcopal Church did not acknowledge reincarnation, the present Universal Spiritualist Association does, and teaches classes and workshops on the subject. It describes itself as “a nondenominational association teaching, preaching, and practicing the great religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism; as well as the esoteric faiths of Esotericism, Native American Spirituality, Rosicrucianism, Spiritualism, Sufism, and Theosophy as a Serene Way of Life in a troubled world—a Pathway for the devotees and adherents of the Mystic, the psychic, the New Age, the Metaphysical, and the Traditional.”


Melton, J. Gordon: The Encyclopedia of American Religions. Wilmington: McGrath, 1978
Universal Spiritualist Association: http://www.meta-religion.com/New_religious_groups/Groups/Spiritual/universal_spiritualist_association.htm
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