Fellowship of Friends

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Robert Earl Burton, the founder of the Fellowship of Friends

The Fellowship of Friends is a non-denominational religious organization. It was founded in 1970 by Robert Earl Burton as a Fourth Way group based on the teachings of George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky but presently incorporates additional esoteric knowledge not directly connected with the Fourth Way system.[1] The organization had as of April 2019 approximately 1,600 members, about a third of whom live near the organization's 1200-acre (48 ha) compound named "Apollo"[2] in Oregon House, California, United States.[3] Members also reside in North and South America, Europe and Asia.[4] The organization's connection to Fourth Way teachings is controversial and disputed[5][6] and claims of false prophecy, financial exploitation and sexual abuse have caused additional criticism.[5] The Fellowship of Friends is registered as a 501(c)(3) California non-profit church organization and is a member of the International Council of Community Churches (ICCC).[7]

Renaissance Vineyard and Winery

From 1982 to 2015 the organization operated Renaissance Vineyard and Winery at the Apollo settlement. The vineyard was planted with advice from viticultural consultant Karl Werner, who married a Fellowship of Friends member and became a member himself. The Fellowship obtained designation of the North Yuba American Viticultural Area in 1985.[8][9][10]


A number of former members have sued Robert Earl Burton, the founder of the organization, for alleged sexual abuse.[5] His lavish lifestyle and his false prophecies have also been criticized.[5]


  1. ^ http://livingpresence.com/the-tradition-of-schools/
  2. ^ http://livingpresence.com/apollo/
  3. ^ http://livingpresence.com/apollo/
  4. ^ http://livingpresence.com/worldwide-centers-2/
  5. ^ a b c d Jenifer Warren (November 4, 1996). "Trouble Taints a Cerebral Sanctuary". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way - Contemporary Status of the Work (see footnote 24)" (PDF). Learning Institute for Growth, Healing and Transformation (LIGHT). July 7, 2017.
  7. ^ http://livingpresence.com/fellowship-of-friends/
  8. ^ "Lost Treasures in the Sierra Foothills: The Wines of Renaissance Vineyards". Vinography. July 23, 2015.
  9. ^ Esther Mobley (August 23, 2018). "How a California cult created one of the country's great wineries — and then lost it". San Francisco Chronicle.
  10. ^ Esther Mobley (August 23, 2018). "The original 'cult' wine: How I discovered California's strangest vineyard". San Francisco Chronicle.

Further reading

  • Self-Remembering (1995) by Robert E. Burton, Weiser Books, ISBN 0-877-28844-5
  • Taking with the Left Hand: Enneagram Craze, People of the Bookmark, and the Mouravieff Phenomenon (1998) by William Patrick Patterson, edited by Barbara Allen Patterson. Arete Communications, ISBN 1-879514-10-9
  • Deadly Cults: The Crimes of True Believers (2003) by Robert L. Snow, Praeger Publishers, ISBN 978-0275980528
  • Gurdjieffian Groups in Britain by James Moore, "Religion Today" (1986), Volume 3(2), pp. 1-4
  • The Fourth Way and Inner Transformation by Theodore Nottingham (1991), "Gnosis", No. 20, p. 22

External links