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.