Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970. Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

According to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish while, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci), Burton and his followers shall be spared, founding a new and more perfect civilization. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Friday, December 31, 1971

1971 Notes

 "Gathered Around The Campfire, 1971" from the Internet Archive. Photo by Don Birrell.
Photo taken at MacDonalds' farm in Vacaville?

[ed. - Timelines provided by Harold Wirk, here and here. The "history" below is inconsistent. The Oregon House property's anniversary is considered July 4th, but it appears to have been purchased in the Spring.]

New Year's Eve party at Mac's [MacDonalds']
According to Harold, sometime during this period, Berkeley meetings began
1st Ranch Donation requested [Bonita "loaned" Robert $4,000 for the ranch purchase.]
Farm-garden (at Mac's)
Open meetings (1/7)
Borsch party at Anna's (1/10) [is this at Anna G.'s house in Berkeley?]
Last "Circle in Room" at Rick and Alice's [Hannah]
Smoking allowed during breaks only
Ken Jacuzzi left for Mexico (1/20)
"Stop" exercise is instituted (1/25)
40 names for group [ed. - was the Fellowship still unnamed at this point?]
Begin search for a ranch
Planting ceremony at Mac's (2/21)
March 3: Robert announces plans to purchase a ranch. Donations due March 4th.
Members looked at the "King Ranch". [ed. - Is this the 1,300-acre Solano County King Ranch, or possibly the former name for the Dixon Hill property? There is also a King Ranch Road in Bangor, just west of Oregon House.]
Robert will not personally work with new students (3/10)
April 20: The California Franchise Tax Board determines The Fellowship of Friends to be a tax-exempt religious organization
April 21: The Fellowship of Friends is incorporated in the State of California
May 28 - 31: Sea Ranch Coastway's Ranch
Alden and Bonita moved to Ranch
June 23: The United States Internal Revenue Service determines The Fellowship of Friends to be a tax-exempt religious organization
June 26: Anna 3rd [to move there?]
1st Ranch Weekend (7/4): "The Farm Octave" begins
[Official Fellowship of Friends history:] On July 4, 1971, (Robert Burton's) students purchased 1,200 acres of mostly uncleared land in the Sierra foothills [bordering the community of Oregon House and sharing Dixon Hill with the Richards Ranch]. For the next five years, Robert Burton focused his efforts on establishing a network of satellite groups or “centers” in California, and on developing the property—later called Renaissance—to serve as a central retreat for Fellowship members and as the focus for their external efforts. [ed. - According to the report by Eugene Katz, CPA, the Fellowship's land holdings as of December 31, 1971 were 917 acres, the cost, about $167 per acre.]
Coin octave [coin collecting?]
See Fellowship of Friends Master List as of August 1971.
September 4: Robert begins a 16-month period of silence.
Started paper [assumed to be "Via del Sol," the Fellowship journal and newsletter]
Around this time, members are advised to "cut life work by 20%"
Sea Ranch (10/1/-10/3)
Vegetarian diet on Ranch (10/18)
Robert speaks on the subject of suicide (10/26)
According to Harold, around this time, being "out of patterns" is emphasized, he also refers to "laughing man" [unknown reference], "organic" lifestyle is emphasized, no leather or restrictive clothing, rolfing and massages are common, members are not to eat pork. There is a slow-down in recruiting.
Fast one day [member exercise?]
Mexican dinner (11/18)
Thanksgiving dinner at Farm
Big Sur, Carmel meetings (open) started
12/2: Robert leaves ranch and tries to sell it. 14 adults, 8 kids left
12/7: Announced new group formed in Big Sur
Robert teaches 4 meetings weekly
New Year's party at Mac's [MacDonalds'?] ranch (12/31)