Santa Cruz County History - Religion & Spirituality

Santa Cruz Spirituality: Spiritualist, Psychic, and New Age
by Paul Tutwiler


  1. Classical American Spiritualism
  2. American Spiritualism Recent in Origin
  3. New Age

The element common to Spiritualists, Psychics, and New Agers is belief in the ability to open our consciousness and allow us to perceive spirits, spiritual forces, and even cosmic forces. Perception of this kind has a long history, and some degree of it is found in the mysticism of many religions. The American experience of such perception, however, and its presence in Santa Cruz, can be divided into four headings: 1) classical, dating from 1848 and now found in specifically Spiritualist churches; 2) recent in origin, especially in the environment of the 1960s; 3) strictly Psychic; 4) New Age. As far as I can tell, the first two and the last of these four types have been found in Santa Cruz.

Classical American Spiritualism

Sources for this section are cited in the essay of the same name in Chapter 5 Particulars, except that new information from the Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation used in this list, shows, as noted below, that the Progressive Spiritualists Church was not the same as the Unity Spiritual Society.

Eliza Farnham, intellectual, feminist, and spiritualist, held lecture series on Spiritualism in various halls while she was in Santa Cruz, on and off from 1850 to 1860. Farnham's activity was made possible by the continuous presence of her friend, Georgiana Bruce Kirby, but I am not aware that there was a stable Spiritualist organization here at that time.

» Spiritualist Organization. Watsonville. 1866-1868.

Spiritualism maintained an organizational presence at least during these years, when local persons were members of the statewide Spiritualist organization. Spiritualists met in various places.

» Spiritualist Organization. Santa Cruz. 1880-1887.

Spiritualism maintained an organizational presence at least during these years, when local persons were members of the statewide Spiritualist organization. Spiritualists met in various places, but in 1892 they were held Sundays AM and Wednesday evenings in Buelah (sic) Hall.

» Glen Haven Sanitarium. Service org, Soquel, 1885-1887.

Dr. T. B. Taylor founded this health facility, which used scientific and Spiritualist methods. Dr. R. Brown took it over in 1886, but later the same year moved it to his office in Santa Cruz, and he closed this, too, it seems, in 1887.

Glen Haven Sanitarium
Glen Haven Sanitarium, Soquel
Image courtesy of P. Tutwiler.

» Unity Spiritual Society. Santa Cruz, 1889-1903.

The Unity Spiritual Society was incorporated in 1889 "for religious and social purposes." (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 167) In 1893 it met at 159 Pacific Ave., and in 1903 it met in an unspecified location.

» Church of the Soul (Spiritualist). Santa Cruz, 1909.

This congregation met in Forester's Hall, Santa Cruz.

» First Spiritual Church. Santa Cruz, 1909-1912.

This group met in Native Sons Hall, Santa Cruz.

» Society of Progressive Spiritualists of San Francisco. Santa Cruz, 1914.

Incorporated in San Francisco in 1884, (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 877) the group was evidently in Santa Cruz in 1914 and 1915 as the Progressive Spiritualists Church that met at Beulah Hall, 102 Bay St.

American Spiritualism Recent in Origin

» Spiritual Science Church. Santa Cruz, 1961-1971.

According to Polk 1961-1971 this church was at 513 Center St.

» Holy Grail Foundation. Santa Cruz, 1964-2008.

Founded in Fresno in the 1940s by Leona Richards, who claimed that there was "scientific proof of Biblical claims," this foundation moved its headquarters to Santa Cruz in the 60s. (Melton, Encyclopedia, *819) It did, in fact, appear in the 1964 Yellow Pages. In 1973 and 1984 it met at the Palomar Inn on Sundays under the name of Chapel of the Holy Grail. (SC Sentinel, Jan. 7, 1973 and July 26, 1984) Curiously, in Polk 1974 through 1977 this Palomar Inn site is listed as Chapel of Holy Grace. For a number of years the foundation maintained a library in Hackley Hall, 513 Center St. (Polk 1965-71) It remained in Santa Cruz through 1987, as evidenced by the Encyclopedia entry. It did not appear in the 1987 or subsequent White Pages through 2010, although there was an ad for it with local telephone numbers in the SC Sentinel on July 5, 2008

» Chapel of Spiritual Gifts. Ben Lomond, 1976-1977.

According to the 1976 and 1977 Yellow Pages this chapel was at 8935 Glen Arbor Road, Ben Lomond. The 1977 Yellow Pages have with it the notation "UCM No 383," which, I suppose, refers to the Universal Church of the Master. The Universal Church of the Master, founded in Los Angeles in 1908, now headquartered in Campbell CA, is *846 in Melton's Encyclopedia. In the "Spiritualist, Psychic, and New Age Family." The "Master" is Jesus, but the perspective of the church is broader than Christianity.

» Church of Divine Spiritualists. Live Oak, 1977.

This church was at 2-1675 E. Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz 95062. (1977 Yellow Pages)

» Church of Scientology. Santa Cruz, 1977-2010.

The 1977-1979 Yellow Pages listed Dianetics under "Churches — Scientology" at 118 Locust St., Santa Cruz. After that, Scientology at 602 Mission St., Santa Cruz was listed in the 1980 Yellow Pages. Then Dianetics and Scientology at 602 Mission St. was listed in the SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984 under "Various Denominations." The Church of Scientology has been on Seabright Ave. since 2005, (Good Times, Oct. 5-11, 2006) and its present address is 1729 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz 95062, tel. 426-2146. (2010 Yellow Pages) "Dianetics Foundation of Santa Cruz", according to the 2010 White Pages, has the same telephone number and address.

The Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by L. Ron Hubbard according to the website,, which in 2007 included the statement,

Man is an immortal, spiritual being. His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime. His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized — and those capabilities can be realized. He is able to not only solve his own problems, accomplish his goals and gain lasting happiness, but also achieve new, higher states of awareness and ability.

In 2010 the website does not seem to have this written statement, but it has extensive equivalent statements.

Although there has been worldwide controversy as to whether or not it should be considered a church, Scientology rests on Hubbard's proclaimed revelations, and American law accepts it as a religious organization.

Several years before founding the Church of Scientology Hubbard taught "Dianetics" as a theory of therapeutic mental health treatment reminiscent of Freudian psychotherapy. Dianetics as revised by its relation to Scientology forms the basis for the Narconon drug treatment program, the entry for which is found below.

An extensive and dispassionate treatment of the founding and early years of Dianetics and Scientology is that of Roy Wallis, The road to total freedom: A sociological analysis of Scientology, London: Heinemann, 1976.

» Center for Divine Healing. Live Oak, 1981.

Presumably this organization was primarily for worship. It was located at 200 7th Ave., Santa Cruz in the 1981 Yellow Pages.

» Narconon of Northern California. Service org, Watsonville, 1984-2010.

According to the SC Sentinel of July 26, 1984, the Dianetics-based treatment program of Narconon was active at that time in Watsonville. In 2005 the listed two treatment centers, 8699 Empire Grade Road, Santa Cruz and 262 Gaffey Road, Watsonville. In 2007, however, I could find only the Watsonville center, which was at 65 Kingfisher Drive, Watsonville, and in 2008 this, too, was gone, and the nearest Narconon program listed was in Morgan Hill.

Nevertheless, the 2010 Yellow Pages list Narcanon of Northern California at 262 Gaffney Road, tel. 768-7190.

» Center for the Soul. Service org, Santa Cruz, 2002-2010.

The Center for the Soul is not a place; it is the service activity of Robin Lopez Lysne, who identifies it as spiritualist, a healing technique: "My intention is always for your highest and wisest good. If needed, I am able to see into your body, your chakras, and read your energy field to support physical, emotional or energetic healing." There are Center for the Soul classes in various places; information can be obtained at 457-2483. ( 2010)

» Urantia Brotherhood. Santa Cruz?, 2004-2006.

The Urantia Book, published in 1955, is a 2,000 page account of things revealed by celestial beings to unnamed humans. The Urantia Foundation in Chicago has existed since 1950. Melton, Encyclopedia *945 has further general information.

In 2006 the Santa Cruz group met at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and its contact telephone number was 688-0791 according to the SC Sentinel Religion/Spirituality Calendar of Nov. 18, 2006, but it was no longer found there in the Dec. 1, 2007 issue.

New Age

The New Age, the Age of Aquarius, which is a notion from astrology, began in 1962. It is represented as an era in which the self-enlightenment and self-perfection of growing numbers of people is bringing about an enlightenment and perfection of the whole human race and of the world in which we live.

The spirituality of the New Age is adamently non-doctinal, viewing doctrines as hinderances, not helps, to personal development. It shares with Spiritualism and Shamanism an attitude of receptivity to the power of a normally unseen world. It is open to the wisdom of the past, along with Theosophy, it is partners with many forms of self-help, and it embraces Transpersonal-Psychology. Critics assert, in fact, that it allies with too many ways of understanding human consciousness and the practices appropriate to them, that it is, in a word, too eclectic to have an identity of its own.

Be that as it may, the Encyclopedia gives it a place alongside Spiritualism. In doing the same I find that although the name New Age and much of its spirit are encountered abundantly in Santa Cruz, the only associations I can reasonably classify under this heading are the following:

» Santa Cruz Church of Metaphysical Science, Inc. 1964.

Incorporated in 1964, this church had as its purpose psychic research, "divine healing," and "to promote the Christian principles as set forth in the Holy Bible and the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ." (Santa Cruz County Articles of Incorporation no. 2741) I have no evidence that this congregation existed physically. Not to be counted in totals.

» University of the Trees. School, Boulder Creek, 1973-2010.

Christopher Hills, inventor, entrepreneur, and spiritual master of a Yogic tradition, established this postgraduate institution in 1973, and it was authorized by the State of California to grant advanced degrees in 1977. It specialized in environmental and solar technologies and in consciousness studies. Shortly after 1982 it was located at 13165 Pine St. and, in addition, had the "University of the Trees Press," and the "Ion Research Center" in Boulder Creek, as well as the "University Community School" (K-8) in Felton; the "group" of people involved numbered 42. (University of the Trees. Brochure undated, but mentioning events of 1982. A copy can be found in the Boulder Creek Public Library.) The brochure states that property in the mountains had been acquired for environmental research, and this presumably is the same 50 acre site on which Hills built the Goddess Temple.

The temple was built in 1989 and was the residence of Hills and his wife, Penny Slinger, who was the goddess, and who continues to live there since Hills's death in 1997. A program of ceremonies, such as solstice celebrations, was carried out there as late as 2003, ( 2003) but in 2007 the temple seemed to be a place for New Age media productions. ( 2007)

Now, 2010, each of several websites,,,, and, presents an aspect of the evolution of Christopher Hills' enterprise from its beginning until its present status as a church of the Universal Church of the Master, in which Penny Slinger is an ordained minister. The Universal Church of the Master, founded in Los Angeles in 1908, now headquartered in Campbell CA, is *846 in Melton's Encyclopedia. In the "Spiritualist, Psychic, and New Age Family." The "Master" is Jesus, but the perspective of the church is broader than Christianity.

» Unification Church. Aptos, 1976-1979.

Properly the "Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity," this group is best identified by its founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Founded in South Korea by Rev. Moon in 1954, the Unification Church teaches that the condition brought about by the fall of Adam and Eve can be restored only by a Messiah who

must meet a variety of qualifications. He must be fully human. He must conquer sin and manifest God's masculine nature. He must marry a woman who will manifest God's feminine nature. Jesus accomplished only half of the task since he never married. Jesus accomplished only the spiritual salvation of humankind. Rev. Moon has come to fill the conditions of the Lord of the Second Advent. (Melton, Encyclopedia *923)

Growing rapidly in the United States in the 1970s, the Unification Church came to be sharply criticized for its methods of proselytizing youth. In Santa Cruz, as in other places, it set up one of its many recruiting groups, the "Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles," which met in a rented house in Aptos. Young people who joined the group in Aptos went to Boonville, California, but once there, they found it exceedingly difficult to leave the organization. (Santa Cruz Independent, Oct. 29-Nov. 4, 1976 and SC Sentinel, July 29, 1979)

» Church of Divine Man. Santa Cruz, 1982-1985.

At 531 Dufour St. in the 1982 to 1984 Yellow Pages and in the SC Sentinel, July 26, 1984. In the 1985 and 1986 Yellow Pages, however, it was at 1320 Mission St., and with it, using the same telephone number, was the Berkeley Psychic Institute of Santa Cruz.

Presumably this was affiliated with Church of Divine Man, which was founded in Seattle in 1976 and which characterizes itself thus: "...we believe the most important thing is our one-to-one contact with the Cosmic, and we agree to practice our unique spiritual techniques and teach others our spiritual information." ( 2007 — in 2008 I do not find these words in the site, but I find extensive equivalent statements)

» Christ Ministry Foundation. Santa Cruz, c1987.

Founded in 1935 in Oakland, California by Eleanore Mary Thedick, this group promoted beliefs which lent themselves to categorization as New Age in later years. For a while, at least, it had an address in Santa Cruz - Box 1103, Santa Cruz 95061. (Melton, Encyclopedia *903).

At about the same time there was a Christ Center Ministry for Planet Earth at 479-1711. (1985 and 1986 White Pages) I had speculated that this was associated in some way with the Christ Ministry Foundation, but a person with firsthand knowledge of the Christ Ministry Foundation writes that such is not the case.

» Dance Church. Santa Cruz, 2001-2010.

According to Jim Brown, Executive Director of the Four-Eighteen Project, of which the Dance Church is a weekly activity, the Dance Church is "a spirit-focused exchange that currently unravels at 9am Sundays. The music is paced and slow, and then it's high energy in the end... Somebody sets up an altar and for the last 15 minutes we sit in a circle. It's an opportunity to find spiritual expression through dance. Sometimes it's toning, sometimes people recite poetry. Almost anything can happen in the circle." (Good Times, Nov. 1-18, 2004)

In its 2010 website,, this group dates itself to 2001, categorizes itself as New Age, and gives its address as 418 Front St., tel. 466-9770.

» Golden Light Foundation. Santa Cruz?, 2002-2003.

This was listed in the 2002 and 2003 Yellow Pages, and in 2003, at least, it was under "Churches—New Age".

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