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.")

But 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.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the Internet Archive, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, the (ill-fated) Fellowship Wikipedia page, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

Steve Dambeck is on a mission to promote The Fellowship of Friends

Steven Dambeck, of Oregon House, stands above 2,000
feet in elevation at the Renaissance Vineyard and Winery
 as the snow-capped Sierra Nevada loom in the distance
 on Sunday, April 13, 2014. Dambeck is a founding member
  of North Yuba Grown and the new director of visitor services
 for the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce. Photo:
David Bitton/Appeal-Democrat
[ed. - Steven Dambeck has been appointed Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce Director of Visitor Services. It is curious that, despite Dambeck's over 35 years with the Fellowship, the Appeal-Democrat article below makes no mention of the Oregon House cult, nor of Dambeck's Apollo Olive Oil and Renaissance Vineyard and Winery connections. 

A Fellowship leader, minister, and self-described sexual partner of founder Robert Burton, Dambeck has been tireless in promoting Fellowship businesses, those of its members, and his own ventures, which include North Fork Yuba River, his partnership with Randy Fletcher, current candidate for Yuba County 5th District Supervisor. Fletcher, who also sits on the Board of Education, recently helped the Fellowship-backed Yuba Environmental Science Charter Academy (YESCA) gain renewal of its charter.

While Dambeck serves to increase Yuba County tourism, it would not be surprising to see attention and resources "coaxed" in the Fellowship's direction, and towards his, Greg Holman, and Charles Sharp's brand new Yuba Harvest tasting room in Oregon House.

May 20, 2014 update: Getting right down to business, the Chamber announced a new TV show in which "Dambeck will be featured on the show talking about local wineries." Of course, the largest, most well-known of those wineries is the Fellowship's Renaissance Vineyard and Winery. And there are two others owned by Fellowship members.]

June 16, 2014 update: Dambeck's Yuba Harvest tasting room was shut down for lack of a proper alcoholic beverage permit. How could an experienced wine professional commit such an amateurish misstep?

February 2015 update: Dambeck is no longer Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce Director of Visitor Services.]

Steve Dambeck is on a mission to promote Y-S wineries

By Eric Vodden/

For a longtime wine lover, Steven Dambeck isn't all that concerned about adhering to the strict guidelines of whether a cabernet or chardonnay best satisfies the palate with a particular dish.

He acknowledges it can be intimidating for a wine neophyte to whiff the bouquet or find the hint of blackberry within the complex tastes of a particular vintage.

But it's the culture of wine making that he loves, the aura that a glass brings to a social event and a well-planned meal.

"Food is the catalyst where there are people," said Dambeck, adding that he gained his appreciation for wine and food while spending time in Europe. "Wine is what pulls it all together."

Dambeck is a board member of the North Yuba Grown farmers organization, the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce's new director of visitor services and is involved with the North Sierra Vintner's Association.

The bottom line through all those associations is to help Yuba-Sutter see itself in a better light and get those from the outside looking in to share that light.

"The Yuba-Sutter area has extraordinary things, but we don't get the word out," Dambeck said. "We don't have such a great self-image. We don't think of our place as wonderful."

In his job with the chamber, Dambeck's job is to increase the organization's role in supporting community events and improving the image of the region.

"This is a vibrant place," he said. "It's unbelievable what we have here."

But it's the wineries included in the North Sierra organization — stretching across the foothills of Yuba and Butte counties — that hold a special place in Dambeck's heart. And it's the potential for the region to develop a reputation for producing fine wines, along with olive oils, that make it fit in with all of Dambeck's jobs.

"Wine will bring visitors," he said. "People aren't going to travel to get good kale, though we have very good kale in the foothills. But they will come for wine."

There are 14 wineries belonging to the North Sierra group. Eleven of those will be welcoming visitors later this month for the annual North Sierra Wine Trail event featuring wine, appetizers, music and art at each stop.

Along with the annual event, North Yuba Grown has received a grant to develop a wine trail for the region, which has been designated by the federal government as a wine-grape growing region.

In his role with the Chamber, Dambeck is working with the trade magazine Food and Travel for a feature story on the region. And he is working with national writers to visit and write reviews of wines from the North Sierra.

"We are not trying to be Apple Hill or the Napa Valley," Dambeck said. "We want to keep the character of the little towns preserved."

"But I would like people to finally assess our wines as among the premium wines of California," he said. "I would like to see our hard-working vintners get the recognition they deserve."

A local resident since 1979, Dambeck said he has worked among the vines since his arrival, the Band-Aids on his arm testament to the scratches he still gets in the fields.

"I'm a vineyard guy," Dambeck said. "I am interested in the people who make wine.

"I love what it does for people," he said.

History, wildlife, food key to promoting region

Yuba-Sutter residents need to take a look at their home region with an outsiders' eyes, said Steven Dambeck, recently hired as the local Chamber of Commerce's director of visitors services.

And, while Dambeck is promoting the Yuba foothills as a wine- and food-growing region, it also means taking a look at the whole recreational landscape.

Dambeck outlined three core areas for which locals can do a better job promoting.

First, there's the history.

"When you look at every area of California, where is there a place that has more history than the confluence of the Yuba and Feather rivers?" he said.

From the Gold Rush to the Donner Party to the Maidu tribe to the Chinese culture, "this is where the action is," Dambeck said.

Another core area needing to be better promoted is the outdoors — hunting, fishing, lakes and wildlife refuges like Gray Lodge.

And the third is the potential to draw visitors to the food and wine offered in the Yuba foothills. Dambeck noted the foothills activity in the regional Food-to-Fork program promoting small farms and the food they produce.

"It's become clear that Yuba County is the most active Food-to-Fork county in the Sacramento region," he said.

Rikki Shaffer, executive director of the Yuba-Sutter Chamber, said Dambeck's part-time position is the seed for what is hoped will eventually be a separate tourism bureau.

"We have a very ambitious and strategic plan on how we can improve and take better advantage of our assets," Shaffer said.

Part of that is providing more support for community events with the potential of bringing in more visitors.
"Let's say we have visitors coming to visit Bishop's Pumpkin Farm," she said. "We have to figure out how we can create ancillary activities around that to keep people moving around the community and get them to spend the weekend."

Funding for Dambeck's position comes from three-year $210,000 funding from Yuba City to promote tourism in the area. Though funding comes from Yuba City, the theory is that wherever a community event happens benefits the entire area.

"Our assets are mutual," Shaffer said.

"Everything we are doing is geared toward the Yuba-Sutter area."

Dambeck said part of his role will be to increase Chamber support for existing festivals and events such as the Bok Kai Festival, the Marysville Stampede and Pioneer Days in Smartsville.

"We would like to be more of a catalyst and bring support to what already is being done," he said.

The Chamber is also looking at the idea of next year organizing a festival at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds that would showcase local agricultural products.

"Ag is what binds us all together," Dambeck said.

North Sierra Wine Trail

Fine wines, olive oil, appetizers, music and art will be featured on the North Sierra Wine Trail on April 26-27 in the Yuba and Butte counties foothills.

Eleven wineries will be taking part in the annual event designed to expose visitors to the emerging wine growing region. The trail extends from the north Yuba communities of Oregon House and Dobbins north through Bangor to Oroville.

The event is sponsored by the North Sierra Vintners Association.

The small, mostly family-owned wineries will be offering a wide variety of selections and styles. Many will be providing samples straight from the barrel.

Participating wineries are Bangor Ranch, Clos Saron, Grant-Eddie, Grey Fox, Hickman Family Vineyards, Long Creek Winery & Ranch, Lucero Vineyards, Quilici Vineyards, Renaissance Vineyard, Spencer Shirey and Purple Line.

Wineries on the trail will be open on the days of the event from noon-5 p.m.

Tickets are $25 at the gate or can be purchased for $20 in advance at participating wineries or at the website Each ticket comes with a glass and provides admission at all tastings.

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