The Church Universal and Triumphant: Background information when reading The Shelter Cycle

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The Shelter Cycle

by Peter Rock

The Shelter Cycle by Peter Rock
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2013, 224 pages
    Apr 2014, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Morgan Macgregor

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Church Universal and Triumphant

Print Review

The inspiration for The Shelter Cycle came from the author, Peter Rock's experiences with the Church Universal and Triumphant, a religious sect he came into contact with while working on a sheep and cattle ranch near Yellowstone Park in the early 1990s.

The Church Universal and Triumphant is a religious organization founded in 1975 by Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Its beliefs are based on the wisdom of the "ascended masters," a group of enlightened human beings - "joint heirs with the Christ" - who had once been human, and who now distill wisdom through Elizabeth Clare Prophet. The church was founded to further the goals of The Summit Lighthouse, which was founded in 1958 by Mark L. Prophet (husband of Elizabeth Clare Prophet).

Elizabeth Prophet The main form of worship practiced is a kind of rhythmic chanting prayer called decrees. The decrees call on angels, elementals (nature spirits) and the ascended masters to help bring about protection, wisdom, healing and elimination of negative karma on earth.

The religion, which has local congregations in approximately 20 countries, is generally considered to be part of the New Age movement. It blends aspects of both eastern and western religions, theosophy, mysticism and the paranormal. It became the object of attention and scandal during the 1980s, when it predicted that the end of the world would arrive on March 15, 1990. Believing that Soviet missile strikes (the catalyst for the apocalypse) were imminent, the church, which owned a 6,000-acre piece of land bordering Yellowstone National Park – named "Royal Teton Ranch" –spent three years building fallout shelters and preparing to live underground for up to seven years. These three years became known as "the shelter cycle."

On March 15, 1990, thousands of members of the church went underground, only to resurface the next day and discover that nuclear war had not occurred. Some members of the church defected, but many stayed, believing that their decrees had prevented the apocalypse.

Royal Teton Ranch is still the headquarters for the church today. Retreats are held there several times a year. Elizabeth Clare Prophet died in 2009, and while several former church members have attempted to become the official prophet, the church officially operates under a board of directors and council of elders. Members listen to and watch videos released by Prophet before her death. The Summit Lighthouse is the "outreach arm" of the Church Universal and Triumphant, and publishes books, holds youth retreats, and operates online "Ascension" courses through Summit University.

Picture of Elizabeth Clare Prophet from

Article by Morgan Macgregor

This article was originally published in May 2013, and has been updated for the April 2014 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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