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What is the Church Universal and Triumphant?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 23, 2024
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As one of the branches of the international Summit Lighthouse, the Church Universal and Triumphant operates with a belief system that incorporate elements from a number of faiths, most notably Buddhism and Christianity. Other types of beliefs, such as mysticism, paranormal activity, and alchemy also are included. A basic premise is that the great founders of all the major world faiths are given the title of ascended masters, and are capable of communication with people who are willing to be open to the communications. Here is a short history of the founding of the Church Universal and Triumphant, and the current status of the organization.

The Church Universal and Triumphant was formally incorporated on 1 May 1975, although the origins of the movement can be traced back to the founding of the Summit Lighthouse in 1958. Mark Prophet, one of the two founders of the CUT had been in contact with several Ancient Wisdom groups during the early 1950’s. After studying with the Bridge to Freedom group, he chose to launch the Summit Lighthouse in Washington DC. In 1961, Prophet met Elizabeth Clare Wulf. Wulf, who came from a religious background that included Christian New Thought and Christian Scientist teachings, was immediately attracted to the beliefs of the Summit Lighthouse. The pair married in 1964 and subsequently had four children.

By 1966, the Prophets had loosely organized the basic structure of the church, and moved the operation to Colorado Springs, Colorado. The effort of establishing a viable church there was successful, and a second center was opened in Santa Barbara, California in 1970. Santa Barbara was also the site for the new Ascended Master University, which would later be renamed Summit University. Back in Colorado Springs, the church opened a school, health food store, and an organic restaurant. Mark Prophet, who had been in increasingly poor health, passed away February 1973, leaving his wife as the spiritual leader of the church, which was beginning to be known as the Church Universal and Triumphant.

After the official incorporation, headquarters were temporarily moved to Pasadena, California. By 1978, the Church Universal and Triumphant had purchased property in nearby Santa Monica. However, the final move of headquarters came in 1986, with the establishment of a compound in Montana, known as the Royal Teton Ranch. Here, the Church Universal and Triumphant became known for several public claims by Elizabeth Clare Prophet that the prayers of the group had thus far averted nuclear war, but that the threat was looming.

This information had supposedly been provided to Prophet by El Morya, understood to be one of the Ascended Masters of the Blue Ray, and one of the masters regularly channeled by Prophet during worship services. To that end, the members of the Church Universal and Triumphant began to construct underground bunkers where they could withstand the coming nuclear winter. When the war failed to materialize, many followers lost faith and left the church. A claim by Elizabeth Clare Prophet that the intensity of prayers had managed to delay the nuclear launching further did little to placate the departing members.

In the early 1990s, Elizabeth Clare Prophet was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and was placed into house care in Livingston, Colorado. Since that time, the Church Universal and Triumphant has been directed by a presidency of two persons, along with a Board of Directors and a Council of Elders. Diminished in numbers from its heyday, the Church Universal and Triumphant continues to operate Summit University as well as quarterly retreats at the compound in Colorado.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including Language & Humanities, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon948855 — On May 02, 2014

The quarterly gatherings are held in Montana on the Royal Teton Ranch. CUT sold its Colorado holdings decades ago. The Livingston you are talking about is actually in Montana, about forty-five minutes from the ranch, not in Colorado. CUT has one president, a CEO and a Spiritual Director.

By anon144862 — On Jan 21, 2011

@anon87911: .Christianity is just another cult, as is every religion. Who says you are right? The bible written by men "yes of course directed by god". Yeah, yeah. OK, so Hindus, Buddhist, Jews, Muslims, what, everyone is wrong but you? I say they are all cults.

By anon87911 — On Jun 02, 2010

This is definitely and undoubtedly a cult, mixed up and picking a choosing from each religion or philosophy they like. Jesus Christ saves. When you find the truth, the bible, you cannot deny it. Be born again, John 3:16.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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