What Happened To The Cult?

Ralph and Roberta Winter were given the option to buy the campus they purchased in Pasadena, California in the late 1970s for the World Mission Center they planned to establish after God gave them the victory following many prayers against a cult that occupied the campus then and also wanted to buy it.  They were known as the Church Universal and Triumphant.  Roberta received a mailing containing a newspaper clipping from friends of hers in Newberg, Oregon giving her an update about this cult on December 10, 1989.

It is “The Oregonian” newspaper.  The title of the article is “Church leader fans fires of fear” and the subtitle reads “Predictions of a New Year’s Eve nuclear attack, stockpiling of guns and environmental issues stir public concern.”  In Gardiner, Montana, Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s followers know her as Guru Ma or Mother.  She is slender and youthful at 50 with brownish hair.  She likes jewelry studded with large gems.  The rest of the descriptions of her put her squarely in the suburban yuppie group.  Her follows regard her as a messenger who brings divine revelations, and for several months the revelations have been about nuclear war, which Prophet believes is imminent.

Fear of nuclear war is a main reason she moved the world headquarters of her Church Universal and Triumphant to Montana from California in 1986.  Several hundred church members followed their leader and also moved.  “Prophet, who passes on what she calls ‘dictations’ from a flock of ‘ascended masters’ that include mystics and saints, informed her followers in October that an ascended master called El Morya had delivered an update: ‘If I were you, I would see to it that my preparations were complete by New Year’s Eve.’”  Prophet specifies that the Soviets may launch a nuclear attack on the United States on New Year’s Eve.  Heeding her warning, church members are preparing for Armageddon by storing dehydrated food and constructing a vast complex of bomb shelters in southwestern Montana’s Paradise Valley, with its magnificent blue sky, rugged mountains and high plains that end at the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park.

Nonetheless, church watchers fear they are also stockpiling weapons, ammunition and other paramilitary gear.  This church believes in a combination of survivalism and theology with New Age teachings, Christian and Eastern beliefs and political conservatism.  Local residents, environmentalists and staff at Yellowstone National Park have felt uneasy about the sect since 1981, when the church paid about $7.1 million for a 13,000-acre ranch.  The church’s holdings have since expanded to more than 33,000 acres, which means the Church Universal and Triumphant’s Royal Teton Ranch is the second largest private landholding in Park County, Montana.


A Letter From Dear Mother

On August 27, 1953, Hazel Patterson Winter typed a letter to her son and daughter-in-law, Ralph and Roberta Winter. Dr. Winter has just graduated from Cornell University in New York with his PhD and is going to visit his parents in South Pasadena, California before heading back to the East Coast to attend Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey in the fall. Hazel Winter starts her letter by saying it was good to receive Ralph’s letter the day before and Roberta’s on this day. A check for them is enclosed which they are most welcome to use. In case they need more, one of Ralph’s bonds is also enclosed. Daddy [Ralph’s father] conveys that it is worth $94.00 now, so Ralph will not lose much if he does need to cash it. He still has nine of the $25.00 ones and all are very close to the maturity date. Ralph can check on them when he arrives.

Ralph’s parents are so eager to know how everything is and they trust that they will see him and Roberta in good time. However, his mother cautions them to please not try to drive through without adequate sleep or to make too fast time. She writes, “Of course I know you aren’t children and that you have driven across the country before, Ralph, but it still is dangerous to drive when you are too tired or too sleepy.” She believes it is hard to sleep on a bus and expects it would be just as bad or worse to sleep in the back of a car. His parents will be praying for them every step of the journey, “not only that God will wonderfully care for you but that you will use good judgment.” In preparation for their arrival, Daddy has washed the windows in their bedroom two or three times, and each time he commented about Ralph and Roberta being here soon. The drapes have been cleaned and Mother has washed the bedspread and cleaned the closet as much as she can. “There is so much in there that it is a little difficult to make it look just right. I have tried to dust your books but haven’t done it enough I guess because they are dusty.” Hazel thinks they should have tacked light curtains over the front of the boxes so the books would have been better protected.

Mother next asks Ralph about the clinic he is going to because she is concerned about his headaches. Charles Brooks questions whether they are migraines but she trusts not. She does not believe migraine headaches are related to pressure about the neck, which is what always made Ralph’s headaches worse. She should be grateful if he sees a good doctor, which would be worthwhile even if they arrive a week late to Mother and Daddy’s house. She acknowledges, of course, that he must make a decision there and she is confident he will know what is best.

Mother and Daddy received a letter from Ralph’s brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Betty, today too. They went on a little trip a week ago with their children and the Cudneys. Hazel has thought of them and trusts that they are having a good time and resting. In the September issue of “National Geographic” magazine there is a fine article about an American family in Afghanistan written by one of the Habibia teachers’ wives. It has large pictures of the very territory where [Paul and Betty] are going, so it was very interesting to Mother and Daddy. “Last night we took it up so the Brooks could see it. They are going on a little vacation to the High Sierras and will return it when they come back.” Daddy has walked in and since it is almost five o’clock, they must go register this letter sent with all of Mother’s sweetest love.


Be Motivated By Dr. Winter!

Dr. Ralph Winter was featured as a seminar speaker in a bulletin of the Greater Los Angeles Sunday School Association in September of 1992. The bulletin is titled “Glass Window” with the subtitle “Serving the Needs of Today’s Christian Educators.” He is speaking for their Glass Convention to be held in November. His biographical write up states that he is giving an intensive seminar on missions and that he is the director of the U.S. Center for World Mission. He was born and raised in California and in his young years was involved in Christian Endeavor, Youth for Christ, and the Navigators. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Caltech and taught at Westmont College for one year. “His interest and concern for the world grew and after attending the first ‘Urbana,’ he helped organize a pioneer effort to Afghanistan.” His other degrees are a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language from Columbia University, a PhD in Structural Linguistics from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and served in Guatemala as a missionary for ten years and as a professor at Fuller Seminary’s School of World Mission for another ten years.

The column goes on to mention that “[Winter] has written extensively and has contributed regularly to a number of Christian magazines such as Moody Monthly, Evangelical Missions Quarterly, Eternity and Christianity Today.” Among his publications are Theological Education by Extension and Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. This intensive seminar will be about the missions crisis in the local church, what the task is that remains for missions, and practical ways of creating mission vision in the local church. Jesus commands us in the Great Commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations” but are we as believers truly faithfully following the Lord’s last command? The piece concludes by saying that attendees will be greatly inspired in this seminar as they hear about the challenge of missions from a different perspective.

Winter portrait4.

Missionary Reflections in Guatemala

On July 1, 1959 Ralph Winter got together with this friends Dale Green and Bruce Macadam to have what they call “Missionary Discussions” in Guatemala, taking notes as they chatted. They begin by addressing the meaning of salvation, which they agree is reconciliation and health for the individual and the family and physical needs being met, specifically food and economic. They list six points under stability and prosperity for the community and/or family.

  1. Christians helping other Christians.
  2. Christians in states and Guatemalan Christians benefitting each other.
  3. Paul’s missionary journeys involved taking up a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem.
  4. “The hand cannot say to the foot, I have no need of thee.”
  5. Christians in states can help “native Christians” to prosper whereas the natives can help stateside people in spiritual matters.
  6. If Winter and his friends concern themselves with the full salvation of the Christians now existing, the initial stage of salvation is mostly taken care of by those Christians. In the United States, this is noticeable when the pastor “feeds” his people. “In the more economically backward areas, it also takes the form of the pastor feeding his people only in a more literal sense.”

The men go on to say that in the present times, the Great Commission has much less geographic significance and more of a mission in depth approach. There are few people currently who are not within the evangelistic territory of some church except in areas where organizations like Wycliffe work. Yet most of Wycliffe’s work is within areas that have churches. The Great Commission is to go, teach, make disciples and baptize. “Teach means teaching in every area besides Biblical truths. The Great Commission is not fully fulfilled when a person just becomes a believer.” In lands outside of the U.S.A., the church is to operate in a community sense, meaning it must carry the burden of all phases of life.