Universal Hagar’s Spiritual Church (UHSC)
The Universal Hagar’s Spiritual Church (UHSC), a Spiritualist
church operating primarily among African Americans, was
founded in 1923 in Detroit, Michigan, by George Willie Hurley
(1884–1943). Hurley moved to Detroit from Georgia in
1891 and affiliated with Triumph the Church and Kingdom of
God in Christ and rose to become the leader of the church in
Michigan. A short time later he became involved with the esoteric,
left his position in 1920 to join a Spiritualist church, and
three years later founded his own church. In 1924 he established
the School of Mediumship and Psychology, and as new
congregations developed, each also had a school attached to it.
Hurley conceived of the school as a branch of the Great School
of the Prophets, which he believed to be the school Jesus attended
during the 18 years between his appearance in the temple
in Jerusalem and the beginning of his public ministry at the
age of 30.
UHSC was one of the main bodies spreading Spiritualism
through the African American community in the twentieth century.
Like other spiritual churches, (spiritual was the name
adopted by Spiritualism in the black community), UHSC altered
traditional Spiritualism by blending Catholic ritual, Holiness
preaching, and elements of the folk magic culture or voudou.
Hurley also drew upon Ethiopianism, a belief that
identified black people (Ethiopians) with the ancient Israelites;
astrology; and insights from The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ,
a channeled book that purports to tell of Jesus’ lost years. Unlike
many spiritual leaders, Hurley took a strong stand on social
issues and was an early supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The church planted congregations across the Northeast and
Midwest during Hurley’s lifetime. As the church expanded,
Hurley acquired an increasingly grandiose self-understanding.
He told his followers that his carnal flesh had been transformed
into the flesh of Christ and that he had become the ‘‘God’’ of
this Aquarian Age, just as Jesus had been the God of the previous
Piscean Age. Since Hurley’s death, the UHSC has been led
by Prince Thomas Surbacher, Mother Mary Hatchett, Prince
Alfred Bailey, and Rev. G. Latimer, Hurley’s daughter. Hurley
welcomed women to the ministry, and they have always been
well represented on the Wiseman’s Board, the church’s ruling
structure. State directors are called princes, a term taken over
from Triumph the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ. In
recent years the church has spread into the Southwest and California.
Current address unavailable.
Baer, Hans A. The Black Spiritual Movement A Religious Response
to Racism. Knoxville University of Tennessee Press,