The following is from Cheri Walsh:

The Shelter Cycle

Defining moments.  Turning points.  We’ve all had them.  Events that took your whole life in another direction.  

In Church Universal and Triumphant, a defining moment was the period of the shelter cycle.  In hindsight, one can look back today and see that it was indeed the beginning of the end of CUT, at least the CUT we had known up to that time.

For those of you who were not part of the so-called shelter cycle, let me give you a quick history and paint a picture of what it was like back then.

Dire prophecies had always been a part of The Summit Lighthouse/Church Universal and Triumphant teachings.  I remember when I first ran across the teachings back in 1971, I read a disturbing dictation about the imminent crash of the world economy.

The main theme of the first conference I attended in 1973 was preparing for survival. Following the conference, there was a three-day seminar where we learned all sorts of survival skills.

During that period, the church tried to establish a community in the Idaho mountains that would be a place of safety during social, political and economic chaos.  That particular effort in Idaho didn’t work out.  The church eventually abandoned it and the focus on building a self-sufficient survival community subsided. 

Instead, the attention shifted to building church membership.  For the next several years, the church grew by leaps and bounds. 

At the New Years’ conference in 1976, Jesus called the church to move its headquarters from Colorado Springs to Los Angeles.  A fund-raising campaign to move to California ensued and the church headquarters landed on a campus in Pasadena for the next two years. 

When the lease was up in Pasadena in 1978, the church had to find a new home.  Another fund-raising campaign later, an exquisite property for sale in Malibu was found, CUT’s offer was accepted and the church moved to the new campus dubbed “Camelot.”

In the early 80’s, the survival theme surfaced again.  It was low-key but emphatic enough to spur interest once again in building a self-sufficient community in an area that would be out of harm’s way during social, economic and political crisis. 

The church located a property “in the wilderness” and raised funds to purchase it.  The location was kept secret so as not to alarm the residents in the area of the new property until it was a done deal.  After the purchase, the site was revealed as the Malcolm Forbes Ranch in Montana.  

The first church conference was held on the new property in the summer of 1982.  The ranch was renamed the Royal Teton Ranch.  It would also become known by other labels mentioned in dictations such as the Inner Retreat, the Place Prepared, the Place of Great Encounters and Maitreya’s Mystery School.

In the meantime, the headquarters still operated out of the Camelot campus in Malibu, California. 

In the spring of 1982, Archangel Michael gave us a target date of January 1, 1987 as the time for the community to be established in a safe place.  The ascended masters stepped up their warnings of pending cataclysm.  

One especially dire prediction came from Archangel Uriel or Zadkiel (I’m not sure which one).  With the intensity characteristic of archangel dictations, he proclaimed that we may one day wander the streets not knowing where our next meal would come from.  (That one got my attention.)  In February of 1986, Saint Germain strongly encouraged devotees to get off the coasts and move inland.  All roads pointed to Montana.

So, CUT sold the Malibu property, picked up stakes and moved to Montana by January 1, 1987.

At about that time, Mikhail Gorbachev was wooing President Reagan into what Mrs. Prophet viewed as suicidal disarmament treaties.  Things did not look good.

Mrs. Prophet went on a crusade to warn America of Soviet treachery.  She presented the case for a first-strike on the U.S. from the U.S.S.R. from many angles including military defense experts,  Biblical prophecy,  ancient, modern and cosmic history,  astrology, and the prophecies of Nostradamus, Mother Mary and the ascended masters.  She took to the road and stumped all over the world with her message. 

Dictations were given at the end of most of the stump lectures and the message often echoed warnings of dire circumstances yet to come.  (Vesta, Helios’ twin flame, dictated in Toledo, Ohio.  Her august presence gave new meaning to the term “Holy Toledo!”)

To me, the survival theme was like a background noise that never took center stage in my personal world.  I knew it was there but I didn’t give it much thought.  After all, I had been hearing it for sixteen years at that point.  Even though it often weighed in my decision to go or stay on staff through the years, it was not something that was a daily consideration in my world.

That was about to change.  In the spring of 1989, survival preparations at the ranch suddenly took on new proportions.  Under the cover of darkness, earth movers started to gouge out deep holes in a secluded mountain valley on the ranch property known as the Heart.  The foundation of a gigantic bomb shelter complex was all dug before the locals knew what had happened.  As word got out, it caused quite a stir in the Paradise Valley. 

At the same time, church staff were reassigned to work on survival food preparation and packaging efforts.  More and more staff were pulled from their regular jobs to work on the bomb shelters taking shape in the Heart.  Only skeleton crews were left to work on publications.  Most staff were directly involved in survival preparations.  Time off of any kind was cancelled.  Staff couples who married at this time (which is a whole nother chapter in itself) had honeymoons of two or three hours, if any.

Staff who had credit cards, maxed them out to buy supplies.  After all, you had to provide for the next seven years.  We all ordered tons of toiletries, batteries, clothes and survival gear with deep discounts through bulk buying by the church.  It was like a mini-Wal-Mart.  Each person was allotted a certain amount of storage as well as personal space in the bomb shelter. 

Church members from all over the world were moving to Montana to be close to the Inner Retreat.  Many of these people built their own bomb shelters or bought spaces in one of the shelters in Glastonbury, the church community a few miles up the Paradise Valley from the church headquarters.  

As a long-time staff member, all of this was a bit unsettling to me.  I had never witnessed such serious survival preparations.  As the year went on, it became apparent that this was indeed a serious situation.

Local controversy grew by the day over the scope of the church’s activity and its impact on the environment.  Helicopters flew over the area to assess the damage.  The locals were irate. Debate and criticism sizzled in the local press.  Then a staff member was arrested by federal agents for illegal gun purchases and Mrs. Prophet’s husband was implicated.      

It all drew national attention and put CUT and Elizabeth Clare Prophet in the hot seat and on the map.  CUT was a cult with a dramatic twist that made good news.  Mrs. Prophet was on Nightline.  People Magazine and many network reporters came to the ranch to do stories.  I remember seeing Forrest Sawyer, the network news correspondent, sitting in the midst of the congregation at the Jesus’ Watch service in King Arthur’s Court.  It was bizarre.

By February of 1990, the church was dismantling even its outer structure of offices.  The research library and most computer equipment was put into storage.  Files were purged or moved to secure storage areas in the huge bomb shelter in the Heart.  Herds of sheep and cattle were sold.  A few goats and sheep were kept in pens near the shelters to be taken inside the “ark” at the last moment.  These livestock would start new herds after the war.

People called from all over the world who wanted to come to Montana to be safe.  They were told it was too late to come to Montana if they had not made arrangements already.  Instead, they were advised of cities that Mrs. Prophet considered to be “safer” in time of cataclysm.  I remember Austin, Texas was one of them. 

The normal functions of the church were suspended.  No more services were held.  King Arthur’s Court became a staging area for personal survival gear being moved to the bomb shelters. 

The office areas were vacant except for empty desks and book shelves.  It was eerie.

A special service was held on February 26th, 1990, the anniversary of Lanello's ascension day.  Lanello gave a dictation.  He told people to stay close to their shelters at all times and keep the news on.  It seemed as though he knew something he wasn’t saying.  It was scarey.

As mid-March approached, church members all over the world were notified that on the night of March 15th(the Ides of March),   everyone should be in their shelter or able to get there quickly. 

Mrs. Prophet said that because the March Madness of the NCAA basketball playoffs was in full swing, America was off-guard.  It was a perfect time for a nuclear first-strike.  The astrology was aligned for surprises, too.  It got scarier. 

Preparations were at a fever pitch.  Staff worked ‘round the clock.  I was on the night shift in the bomb shelter.  I was glad because if anything happened it would probably be in the middle of the night and I would already be there.  I wouldn’t have to go through the process and panic of racing to the Heart before the first bomb went off.  We were instructed on what to expect if that happened.  We were told the fallout would come down in big clumps about 45 minutes after the explosion.  It got eerier and even more scarey.

I could tell that Mrs. Prophet really believed something was going to happen.  I think that spooked me more than anything else.  After all, she had an inside track to El Morya and all kinds of ascended masters who knew what was going on in the seats of government all over the globe.  Surely, they kept her posted.

The thought of a nuclear war actually happening was too terrible to contemplate for very long.  I wouldn’t let myself think about it much.  When I did, I quickly got busy doing something to forget about it.

I called my family a few days prior to March 15th.  I did not tell them anything but as I talked to them I thought that perhaps it was the last time we would ever communicate.  I told them I loved them at the end of the conversation.  After I hung up, I felt sad, empty, helpless, desolate, scared and nervous.  I envied my family’s ignorance of what was about to happen.  It was an awful moment for me.  I could only hope for the best.

Another terrible moment was going underground into the shelter on the day of March 15th.  If a war did happen, women and children would not be allowed out of the shelter for at least six months because of radiation exposure. 

I remember looking up at the blue sky and wondering how long it would be before I would see it again.  I had a keen appreciation of nature that day.  Of course, it would be a very different landscape après gare (after the war).

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