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.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

"La Cucina" bistro destroyed by fire

[ed. - This entry is inserted in the timeline approximately where this event took place.]

"Critical Mass" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 1, 2007:
Yes, the bistro (La Cucina) burnt down, no subterfuge there, it was probably caused by a cappuccino machine. The FOF received the insurance money, which just got swallowed up. Then 2006 saw the bistro fundraising. I can’t remember how much money was raised, but it was substantial, and a student was on salary specifically for the fundraising, and now she is fundraising for Robert’s personal funds. But then the FOF failed to meet the milestones dictated by the county, so the county started playing hardball and the FOF had to pay a $35000 fine. So the bistro project was abandoned.
[ed. - See also What happened to the "La Cucina" bistro?]

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Girard Haven Biography

[ed. - This profile of the only other supposed "conscious being," (in this case a "Man Number 5") in the Fellowship is an Internet Archive capture from the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Centres website. For a different perspective on this biography, see "A Personal Farewell" and "Elena's Story". For a perspective on Haven's "teaching," see this September 6, 2007 Fellowship of Friends Discussion post by "Elena".]
Girard Haven

The Early Years

Girard Haven was born in March 1945 in Fort Benning, Georgia, and lived in North Carolina, Ohio and Utah before his family settled in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale a few weeks prior to his twelfth birthday. After receiving a degree in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 1966, he spent the next seven years programming computers and hiking in the mountains of California and the Southwestern United States.

Girard Haven Joins the Fellowship of Friends

Although he had always been interested in spiritual matters, apart from reading a few books and dabbling with yoga, Girard made no serious attempts to pursue them until July 1973, when he simultaneously learned of the Fellowship of Friends and began to read In Search of the Miraculous by Peter Ouspensky. Upon encountering the idea of self-remembering, he immediately recognized that he had found the purpose which had been lacking in his life. Three days later, he joined the Fellowship, where he met Robert Burton and accepted him as his Teacher.

Girard Haven as a Disciple of Robert Burton

In July 1975, Girard Haven became the center director in Los Angeles. Subsequently, he also directed the centers in San Francisco and London, England, before returning to Apollo at the end of 1983, where he remained for the next eleven years. At various points during these years, he served on the Boards of Directors of both the Fellowship of Friends and Renaissance Vineyard and Winery, and held the positions of President of the Fellowship and Dean of the Fellowship Council. His primary role in the Fellowship has been to teach the practical methods of personal evolution taught by Robert Burton. In this capacity, he has traveled to Fellowship centers around the world and has led over one thousand meetings. He also maintains active correspondence with Fellowship members worldwide. Some of this correspondence has published under the title With Love, Girard, while excerpts from transcripts of some of the meetings have been collected in the book Notes from a Conscious Teaching.

In addition, in 1983 Girard Haven started the Fellowship Forum, a monthly publication for members for the discussion of the ideas and methods practiced in the Fellowship. The material that he wrote during his ten years as editor and publisher of the Forum was eventually used as the basis of the books Creating a Soul and The Prize is Eternity.

Girard Haven now lives at Apollo, where he continues to serve both his own evolution and the members of the Fellowship by writing, teaching, traveling, and remembering himself.

Girard Haven books

Notes from a Conscious Teaching
Creating a Soul
The Prize Is Eternity

[ed. - See also: Dear Friend]

Friday, June 11, 2004

New Apollo Vouchers

[ed. - The announcement text follows. It is unclear whether this labor-trading system for church members is subject to Federal and State regulations and reporting. (For example, is the Fellowship of Friends responsible for contributing to Social Security and SDI on behalf of those members who commonly offer their labor, not for monetary payment, but in exchange for events, meals, and housing at and around Apollo?)]
These new vouchers were created with the aim of replacing the several different vouchers currently in use and providing a more balanced method for redeeming them for various events at Apollo. Additionally they are intended to reduce the time consumed in distributing, redeeming, and processing of vouchers.

The vouchers will be issued for Half Day or Full Day participation in a wide variety of octaves [ed. - projects or chores] at Apollo.

Use of the new vouchers for events will be limited:

A Full Day voucher cannot be split between events.

A Half Day voucher for Potager Lunch assistance can only be redeemed for attending the Teacher's Sunday meeting.

Existing vouchers will continue to be honored for the next 60 days. After which time they must be traded in for a new voucher.

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

"Being Present" Fellowship of Friends internet newsletter launched

From Vol. 1, No. 1:
Welcome to the first issue of this newsletter

This issue marks the beginning of our efforts to make major Fourth Way principles accessible worldwide via the internet. We appreciate so many subscribers being patient as we put the newsletter together and we look forward to getting your feedback as we go forward. Please let us hear from you.
The image below is from an Internet Archive page capture.

Fellowship of Friends "Being Present" newsletter, June 2004 (detail)