The National Spiritual Alliance
Based in the Village of Lake Pleasant, Town of Montague
Franklin County, Massachusetts
The National Spiritual Alliance is a deistic, democratic, inclusionistic
reincarnationist, Spiritualist organization
The National Spiritual Alliance welcomes ALL who seek spiritual understanding regardless of faith tradition -- or lack of one. Sometimes TNSA has speakers at its services who express religious/philosophical/scientific views other than those TNSA subscribes to; nonetheless, TNSA adheres to basic beliefs formulated in essence at the time of its founding as reflected below in the Principles of The National Spiritual Alliance.
Rev. John Midura, TNSA president, created a new TNSA webpage in 2012, spiritualallianceusa.org/. In addition to coming events and Sunday service speaker/mediums the website offers a link to the TNSA page on Facebook which Rev. Midura also created in 2012.
History of Modern Spiritualism
History of The National Spiritual Alliance
Driving Directions to Lake Pleasant
Spirit and Spa is a portrait -- including more than 100 photographs and post cards -- of the Village of Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, during its "glory days" as the pre-eminent Spiritualist gathering place in the United States. The book was written by the late Louise Shattuck, animal artist, sculptor, and author, in collaboration with David James and published by Delta House Press; $20.00, plus $6.00 shipping and handling. To order, click on TNSA Bookstore link in Page Menu above. (For more information visit the Louise Shattuck Papers involving an overview of personal, professional, and Spiritualist memorabilia donated to Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, as well as a biographical note on Louise and her family connection to Spiritualism dating to the early days of Lake Pleasant as a Spiritualist center.)
In the beginning ...
While foreshadowings of so-called "Modern Spiritualism" were evident in Europe in the 18th and early 19th centuries through the work of Emanuel Swedenborg, Franz Anton Mesmer, and others, notably in America of Andrew Jackson Davis, the "Poughkeepsie Seer," Modern Spiritualism officially began in the United States on March 31, 1848. That was the date the Fox sisters, Margaret and Kate, communicated via "rappings" on a bedroom wall with a "spirit" which "haunted" their farmhouse in Hydesville, a small rural community about 20 miles from Rochester, New York. The spirit said he had been murdered and identified himself as a peddler who had stayed at the farmhouse about five years earlier. The spirit told the Fox sisters he had been robbed, his throat had been cut, and his remains were buried in the cellar. Excavation revealed some hair and bones, but it was not until 1904, according to newspaper reports, that children playing in what had become known as the "Spook House" discovered a virtually complete human skeleton behind the crumbling cellar walls. As a result of those peddler communications, and subsequent contact with many other spirits between the worlds of the so-called living and the so-called dead, the Fox sisters gained widespread reputations as mediums and spurred an international fascination with Spiritualism.
According to the History of National Spiritualist Association of Churches, published in 1983, the first National Convention of Spiritualists occurred in Chicago, Illinois, in 1864. A second convention was conducted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the following year, and more conventions followed into the 1870s, before the loose-knit organization withered nationally, but was survived by numerous independent and state groups of Spiritualist and Spiritualism alliances, associations, and organizations.
One of the oldest continuously-existing Spiritualist organizations in the United States is Lily Dale Assembly on the banks of Cassadaga Lake in a rural area approximately 55 miles southwest of Buffalo, New York. Lily Dale Assembly evolved from the First Spiritualist Society of Laona (New York) formed in 1855 and Cassadaga Lake Free Association formed in 1879. The Association of Spiritualists at Cassadaga Camp developed a constitution in 1892 and adopted it in 1893. That constitution and bylaws of that group functioned as a model for organizers of the first Delegate Convention of Spiritualists of the United States of America conducted in September, 1893, in Chicago, Illinois. In November, 1893, organizers of the Chicago convention filed for incorporation in Washington, D.C., as The National Spiritualist Association of the United States of America. In November, 1920, the organization filed an amendment to change its name to The National Spiritualist Association. Another amendment was filed in February, 1953, to change the organization's name to The National Spiritualist Association of Churches, a name it still retains. NSAC is an umbrella organization which currently has more than 100 members.
Another early Spiritualist organization began to form in 1875 in Volusia County, Florida, about 25 miles southwest of Daytona Beach. Its founder, George Colby, a medium who traveled the Midwestern circuit, was led south by a Native American spirit guide to establish a new Spiritualist center. In 1880, Colby filed a homestead claim on almost 75 acres and was granted a partial claim in 1884 on 57 acres of that land. Colby was joined by Spiritualists from Lily Dale, New York, and a charter to form the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association was granted in 1894. Cassadaga has evolved from a seasonal camp to a permanent residential center and is the oldest continuously-existing Spiritualist community in the southern United States.
A third early independent group, the New England Spiritualist Campmeeting Association, formed in Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, in 1874 and was incorporated in 1879. Lake Pleasant is the oldest continuously existing Spiritualist center in the United States and in its "glory days" a century ago was also the largest Spiritualist gathering place in the country. Lake Pleasant is one of five villages in the Town of Montague, one of 26 towns in Franklin County, approximately 90 miles west of Boston. According to Henry A. Buddington, who published the "History of the New England Spiritualist Campmeeting Association" in 1907, a partial list of speakers and mediums appearing in the last quarter of the 1800s at Lake Pleasant included luminaries of that era such as: John Collier, Sarah Byrnes, J.M. Peebles, Nellie Brigham, J. Rhodes Buchanon, Juliette Severence, Moses Hull, William Denton, H.B. Storer, Ed S. Wheeler, Charles Dawbarn, J. Frank Baxter, Edgar Emerson, Tilley Reynolds, Carrie Twing, R. Shepherd Lillie, Fred Willis, Lyman Howe, Lizzie Doten, A.B. French, Sidney Dean, Prof. Lockwood, Oscar Edgerly, Kate Stiles, Jennie Hagan, Cora Richmond, Maud Lord, George Fuller, J.J. Morse, Mattie Hull, Hudson Tuttle, J. Clegg Wright, N.J. Willis, Henry Kiddle, Fanny Allyn, Col. Robert Ingersoll, Juliette Yeaw, Ira Moore Courliss, W.F. Peck, Fanny Davis Smith, F.A. Wiggin, Dean Clark, A.E. Tisdale, Hortense Holcomb, and Andrew Jackson Davis.
From those Lake Pleasant roots ...
The National Spiritual Alliance of the United States of America originated with issuance of incorporation papers September 12, 1913, by the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The New England Spiritualist Campmeeting Association (NESCA) was affiliated with the forerunner of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, based in Lily Dale, New York. The National Spiritual Alliance (TNSA) formed after members of NESCA were unable to resolve philosophical differences (primarily regarding reincarnation) and decided to follow separate Spiritualist paths. NESCA members who did not believe in reincarnation -- contending that reincarnation would be retrogressive, not progressive, and is also unproved -- continued affiliation with the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, while members who believed that reincarnation was a learning vehicle which assisted the soul's progression toward perfection split from NESCA and formed independent TNSA. Lake Pleasant was thus home to rival Spiritualist organizations each with its own temple and followers until the NESCA temple burned in 1955 and was not rebuilt. NESCA continued operations until 1976, before donating its remaining property to the Town of Montague and disbanding.
TNSA continues to be an active organization. Several thousand people visit Thompson Temple annually to participate in Sunday services, Psychic Development Circles, Psychic Fairs, classes, workshops, and other offerings.
Driving Directions to Lake Pleasant
and TNSA at 2 Montague Avenue
From the north (Lebanon, New Hampshire/White River Junction and Brattleboro, Vermont): Take Interstate Route 91 South to Exit 27 in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and bear left onto Route 2 East; turn right onto Route 63 South; turn right onto Lake Pleasant Road; go across railroad tracks and take right on Broadway; go up hill and bear left on Montague Avenue; go to end of Montague Avenue and park in the TNSA lot or the Post Office lot. From the Keene, New Hampshire, area take Route 10 South; take Route 63 South; turn right onto Lake Pleasant Road, and follow final directions outlined above.
From the south (Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts): Take Interstate Route 91 North to Exit 24; turn right onto Routes 5 and 10 North; turn right onto Route 116 South; turn left onto Route 47 North; turn left onto Route 63 North; turn left onto Lake Pleasant Road; go across railroad tracks and take right on Broadway; go up hill and bear left on Montague Avenue; go to end of Montague Avenue and park in the TNSA lot or the Post Office lot. From the Amherst, Massachusetts, area, take Route 63 North; turn left on Lake Pleasant Road, and follow final directions outlined above.
From the east (Fitchburg, Leominster, Gardner, Athol, Massachusetts): Take Route 2 West; turn left onto Route 63 South; turn right onto Lake Pleasant Road; go across railroad tracks and take right on Broadway; go up hill and bear left on Montague Avenue; go to end of Montague Avenue and park in the TNSA lot or the Post Office lot.
From the west (North Adams, Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts): Take Route 2 East; turn right onto Route 63 South; turn right onto Lake Pleasant Road; go across railroad tracks and take right on Broadway; go up hill and bear left on Montague Avenue; go to end of Montague Avenue and park in the TNSA lot or the Post Office lot.
The Charter of The National Spiritual Alliance
"Be it known, that whereas G. Tabor Thompson, Frank M. Donovan, Sarah A. Kimball, Frances A. Woodruff, Luther W. Bixby, Esther H. Blinn, Mary E. Donovan, William Critchley, Esper Peterson, Lucy F. M. Bixby, Judson J. Fremont, Almeidia E. Burr, George F. McGill, Annie B. McGill, Sarah G. Haskins, Annie E. Wheeler, Hattie M. R. Connick, Alice S. Waterhouse, Mrs. Julius A. Rice, Mary G. Carbee, Mary J. Roper, Annie B. Freemont and Almira E. Thompson have associated themselves with the intention of forming a corporation under the name of The National Spiritual Alliance of the United States of America, for the purpose of the cooperation of individuals, churches, camp-meeting associations, State Alliances and Sunday-School Alliances into one general National Spiritual Alliance for benevolent, educational, literary, musical, scientific, experimental, religious and missionary purposes germane to the philosophy, phenomena and religion of a church alliance; and have complied with the provisions of the statutes of this Commonwealth in such case made and provided, as appears from the certificate of the proper officers of said corporation duly approved by the Commissioner of Corporations and recorded in this office:
Now, Therefore, I, Frank J. Donahue, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, do hereby certify that said G. Tabor Thompson, Frank M. Donovan, Sarah A. Kimball, Frances A. Woodruff, Luther W. Bixby, Esther H. Blinn, Mary E. Donovan, William Critchley, Esper Peterson, Lucy F. M. Bixby, Judson J. Fremont, Almeidia E. Burr, George F. McGill, Annie B. McGill, Sarah G. Haskins, Annie E. Wheeler, Hattie M. R. Connick, Alice S. Waterhouse, Mrs. Julius A. Rice, Mary G. Carbee, Mary J. Roper, Annie B. Freemont and Almira E. Thompson, their associates and successors, are legally organized and established as, and are hereby made, an existing corporation under the name of The National Spiritual Alliance of the United States of America, with the powers, rights and privileges, and subject to the limitations, duties and restrictions, which by law appertain thereto."
The Constitution of The National Spiritual Alliance
The TNSA constitution was adopted in 1913 and last revised at the organization's annual meeting in July, 2010. The preamble states "We, the chosen representatives of The National Spiritual Alliance, assembled, in order to form a more perfect Alliance, establish a powerful working organization, establish cooperation, insure harmonious action, and financial success, provide for the ordination and compensation of Ministers, Associate Ministers, Licentiates, Spiritual Mediums, Healers, Missionaries, Speakers, etc., and to promote generally the religion of 'The National Spiritual Alliance,' and secure the liberty of worship granted in the Constitution of the United States of America, hereby establish this Alliance for the guidance and control of 'The National Spiritual Alliance of the United States of America Inc.'"
The constitution established that the organization:
Principles of The National Spiritual Alliance
TNSA acknowledges individuality and understands that as souls progress toward perfection, each soul chooses its own path and moves forward at its own pace; nevertheless, TNSA recognizes certain basic principles which help straighten that path and quicken that pace. The TNSA Principles as amended at the 2010 annual meeting follow:
Offerings of The National Spiritual Alliance
TNSA conducts education classes focusing on such topics as "The History of Spiritualism," "Fundamentals of Spiritualism," "Mediumship," "Hands-On Healing," "Developing Psychic Abilities," and training and certification courses for mediums, healers, licentiates, associate ministers, and ordination of Spiritualist ministers. TNSA also sponsors weekly services and Development Circles, and a monthly Psychic Fair.
Services are conducted year-round Sundays beginning at 2 p.m. The three-part service format includes: Hands-on healing; an inspirational talk, and messages from the spirit world through the medium of the day. Mediums from throughout New England serve on a rotating basis.
There is no charge for Sunday services, however, a freewill collection is taken. There is a fee of $5 for each Development Circle and a fee of $20 for most workshops and special programs. Psychic Fair readings and Reiki and spiritual healings cost $25 for 25 minutes.
Spirit and Spa: A Portrait of the Body, Mind and Soul of a 133-Year-Old Spiritualist Community in Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, by the late Louise Shattuck in collaboration with David James, with more than 100 old photographs, postcards, and illustrations, published in 2003 by Delta House Press, $20.00, plus $6.00 shipping and handling.
One of five villages of the Town of Montague in Franklin County, Massachusetts, and home of "The Bridge of Names," Lake Pleasant was founded in 1870 as a summertime recreational community and lays claim to being the oldest continuously-existing Spiritualist center in the United States. By 1872, Spiritualists had begun to gather in force, making it a "tent city" in the wild woods of the Upper Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, a dozen miles from Historic Deerfield, Massachusetts, and a "baker's dozen" miles from the University of Massachusetts flagship campus at Amherst. In 1874, the New England Spiritualist Campmeeting Association was organized and Spiritualists from around the country -- and around the world -- began to turn Lake Pleasant into a "Mecca" for Spiritualism, believers in "continuity of life" and communication between the material and spiritual worlds. The last member of three generations of a Lake Pleasant Spiritualist family, Louise Shattuck "crossed over" to the next world October 25, 2005, at the age of 85. In "Spirit and Spa" she paints a portrait in historical happenings, anecdotal memories, and old photographs of the "glory days" of a community which lived by the swords of the railroad, recreation, and religion ... and died by the swords of the automobile, conversion of the lake to a municipal water source, and attrition through death and disinterest of Spiritualism's practitioners. The book traces Lake Pleasant from its early years as a vibrant resort of 3,000 to the sleepy little village of 300 that it is today ... and looks at the remnant which still remains of those who "talk to the dead," members of The National Spiritual Alliance.
Images of America: Montague, by Peter S. Miller and Kyle J. Scott, published in 2000 by Arcadia Publishing, $20.00, plus $5.00 shipping and handling. The book is a pictorial history of the Town of Montague, Massachusetts, founded in 1754, and its five villages, Lake Pleasant, Millers Falls, Montague Center, Montague City, and Turners Falls. The book includes 16 pages of photographs and explanatory text focusing on Lake Pleasant from its earliest days as the oldest continuously-existing Spiritualist center in the United States.
Becoming a Spiritualist, by H. Gordon Burroughs, Fifth Printing 1999, distributed by National Spiritualist Association of Churches, Lily Dale, New York, $10.00 plus $5.00 shipping and handling. The book was published in 1962 to "set forth the fundamental doctrines of Spiritualism" as a philosophy, a religion, and a science, as well as to "present the teachings paramount to becoming a Spiritualist."
Also available at the TNSA bookstore are gift certificates for a free Psychic Fair reading or healing, $25, TNSA silk-screen T-shirts in a variety of colors and sizes, $15 ($17.50 for XXL), and an assortment of used books.
To order from the TNSA Bookstore ... email firstname.lastname@example.org