Christ Circle, Boulder Creek, CA, early to mid-1970's
Posted by: JCK1973 ()
Date: January 29, 2009 05:54AM


I am new to this forum and have not had a chance to see if anyone might have mentioned Christ Circle. It was a group that was started by an Arthur Hempel in the early to mid 1970's and was located in Boulder Creek, California, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. My mother and her sister were involved and I have been able to find very little information regarding this group and wanted to know if there was anyone out there that was invloved or had a family member involved.

Any information would be helpful.

Thank you.

Re: Christ Circle, Boulder Creek, CA, early to mid-1970's
Posted by: 45.63.42 ()
Date: September 13, 2009 09:07AM

Hello, JCK1973...

I joined this forum only to give you news of whom you seek. I knew him in the early 1970's. Arthur J. Hempel, Art, secured a job teaching social studies and West Valley (Junior) College in Saratoga CA in about 1970-1. Since social studies was not what he was teaching in the classroom, Hempel's bid for tenure was challenged by many on the staff and tenure was ultimately denied by the school. Hempel took WVC to arbitration and lost there also.

With a few friends Hempel moved to Boulder Creek and in 1974 established the "Christ Circle" contemplative society. He bought some acreage with livable buildings and a meeting center. Art told me he had acquired public financing to build an "alternative" school for the children of adults of the Circle.

Art, once seemingly a level headed philosopher in the Christian tradition, began to believe in "himself". He was tall, red headed, wireframe glasses, misshaped skull, thick jaw and a club foot... I don't remember which foot. Art seemed to be changing and I didn't like it. I'm not sure how to explain it but I left his company and the few friends I made in the Circle at the time. I wish I could remember some names from so long ago in case that could help you.

A couple of years later I read an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel about some trouble the Circle was in with the Santa Cruz County and that Art had left the area. I simply do not remember the details. You might try to find the article(s) there through some clipping service, or go to the paper's offices to look at their stacks. Here is a link to the paper's website...

That's the last I heard of Art until recently.

I found a reference to Hempel on the website:

Here is the paragraph mentioning Hempel...


Grace and Laurence have both spent many years practicing meditation, and are members of The Christ Circle, a contemplative community founded in California in 1974 under the leadership of Arthur Hempel, and following the writings of Joel Goldsmith. The other members of the community are engaged in managing Zarephath Wines in Western Australia, and it is intended that they will in due course join Laurence and Grace in New Zealand.

I hope this information helps you to locate your family members and I hope all is well with them. If you do make contact with Grace or Laurence, please let me know what they can tell you about Art. Since I knew him, I am curious about him and his "Circle".

I will remain anonymous for my own safety, please forgive the ruse.

Best regards...

Re: Christ Circle, Boulder Creek, CA, early to mid-1970's
Posted by: jminer64 ()
Date: April 24, 2010 12:44AM

I was a student there from the summer of 1977 until early 1979 when they were on the run I think from the law because we were in boon vile,ca for a time. I can tell you that they were a cult of sort but not in the extreme way.I will say most of the time I was treated well and so where most of the kids except when you did something they did not like.I was not surprised to see Lawrence is doing well in the UK since that where Arthur Lawrence and Marcus went to try and stay ahead of the law.Say can you tell me who your mother and sister where? hope they are well.

Re: Christ Circle, Boulder Creek, CA, early to mid-1970's
Posted by: troskowick ()
Date: August 26, 2010 02:39AM

I was there from the beginning 1974 to 1978. I was among the first group to move there (Boulder Creek) and left in 1978 when it was beginning to move away from original purpose. My daughter was born there and I administered the group from 75-78. I also lived in the SF house on Duboce and Market. I will, if you are still interested, try and help you with your mother and sister questions if I can or any other questions anyone may have.

Re: Christ Circle, Boulder Creek, CA, early to mid-1970's
Posted by: KristineB ()
Date: March 11, 2011 11:10PM

My name is Kristine. In 1978 I went by the name of Renee. I went to Circle School in Boulder Creek in 1978 but I am not sure how long I was there. I will mention some names I remember although I don't know any last names. I remember having to call the leader Father Arthur, A woman named Mother Sarah and my best friend who I think was Sarahs daughter, Dihanna (not sure of the spelling). I lived in Bagavughn ( again not sure of spelling) hall. My brother Robert was also there and lived in Eddie Hall along with my other brother Ronnie. I remember the lady that did the laundry her name was Lillian ( or maybe vivian but I am pretty sure it was Lillian).
I remember her because she cut my hair which was down to my knees and she cut it up above my ears. I remember a lady named Barrell who used to drag me by my ear when she got mad. Many years later I could have sworn she was my school bus driver. I asked her name and it was different and she denied being the same person, but I know it was her.. I remember part of the song we had to sing before meals, " a ripple upon the sea, from within we have made ourselves known. Then one day a circle is born, a new world, come let us join, this very happy family") That is all I remember. I also remember saturdays were chore day. They put up a square on the grass made of sticks and twine, they called it the pig pen. Me and Dihanna were made to sit inside of these squares and pull weeds. I remember meeting in the breezeway to get our assignment for saturday chores and one time they told us we were going to have a spider hunt. All the kids were very happy and excited, but it turned out that we spent all day pulling the "spider grass" from the grass area. I remember being taken out of class to go to the barn to watch the pigs be slaughtered. I buried my face in my older brother Ronnies stomach and he put his hands over my ears but I still cant forget the pigs screaming. I remember swinging on the rope swing over the pond, losing my grip and falling in. I had problems in my ears and was not supposed to have water in them and my brother Robert jumped in to get me. I remember a girl named Tina who was sweet on my older brother Ronnie. I really liked her. People used to call her plastic hands because she had dry skin, it used to make me mad. She also had a friend named Janice. I remember a bunch of us girls went and spent the night in what we called the hay loft. It was an area in the woods that was hay on the ground surrounded by hay bails. I remember on Sundays we would sometimes go slide down a huge hill that seemed like it was covered with crushed shells and I remember swimming in the pond. There was a picnic table by the pond where I would spend hours snapping green beans. I still have a letter that was sent to my mother from my teacher, it was dated October, 1978 and it is signed by my teacher. I will have to find it so I can post her name, I will when I find it. It is still in the envelope and on letterhead from "The Circle School. I searched for her but was unable to find her. I had a crush on two different boys while I was there. One was Jody Overlander and the other was Julian, but I don't remember his last name. I remember always wanting to work in the nursery on Saturday so I could be with the babies, then as I grew up I wondered why there were babies there. I also remember a girl in a wheelchair her name was sophie, she shared a room with me and Dihanna.
One night we went on a bus to an orchestra and since it was right after supper and I was in the back of the bus, I threw up all over myself and my poor brother Robert. As you can see, I only remember bits and pieces and I am hoping maybe someone can help me fill in the blanks.

My oldest brother Ronnie was there long after I was and we spoke of it once in 1990. He said that at the very end the older boys were kidnapped and taken into the woods somewhere ans basically used as slaves. His mother (he was my step brother) and her friends went up there armed and got him out. From what I have been told the buildings at The Circle School are no longer standing. I have been searching for information for many years and this is the first page I have ever found. I wonder if anyone reading this will remember me or my brothers. If anyone has any of the same memories, please post them. If anyone knows exactly what happened or what the school was all about, please post. It has bothered me for many years. My mother wont talk about it and my dad, who worked for the San Jose Mercury News told me to look in the archives at the newspaper, but there online archives don't go back that far. I have no idea why I was there and tried to run away once but I got caught.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2011 11:33PM by KristineB.

Re: Christ Circle, Boulder Creek, CA, early to mid-1970's
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 13, 2011 09:16PM


Grace and Laurence have both spent many years practicing meditation, and are members of The Christ Circle, a contemplative community founded in California in 1974 under the leadership of Arthur Hempel, and following the writings of Joel Goldsmith.

According to an article in Wikipedia, Joel Goldsmith started out in Christian Science and then went on to create the Infinite Way Movement. He died in the early 1960s.


This wikipedia article mentions

Goldsmith's insistence on "no organization" insured that his message remained a personal journey with leaders naturally evolving from new generations. There is no service, ritual, dogma, ceremony in the practice of The Infinite Way. Goldsmith students can be found in all walks of life, in all religions. Goldsmith's message is one that can be read and heard for a lifetime, always allowing new understandings to unfold in each individual.

The key is meditation, a meditation practice unique in the world. The method is simple, yet so profound that it leads to physical healings, personal harmony, and in some cases, illumination. Goldsmith warned his followers that if in the future a "teacher" would emerge, they would have to be healers first as a proof of their understanding of the work. Today, as in Goldsmith's day, students confuse Goldsmith's principles with those of New Thought, Prosperity Teachings, ACIM, or Absolute teachings. This confusion lifts when the student focuses on Goldsmith exclusively. As Goldsmith states on tape, "You can't ride two horses in a race." <Taped lectures by Joel S. Goldsmith>

These were against Goldsmith's written instructions to his following. Teachers, addressed in his "Letter to Norman," were to only use Goldsmith's own tapes and books. "There are to be no other books or tapes."<> In the years that followed, students rebelled feeling their personal freedom dictated that they were free to do as they pleased. This brought many other interpretations into The Infinite Way, eventually leading to the Goldsmith heirs trademarking the name, The Infinite Way, for business purposes. Currently, few of these original students are still alive. They have promoted their versions of The Infinite Way and also serve as a conduit for social interaction some seekers demand. Goldsmith frowned on socializing in classes, his aim was to help each seeker find their inner guidance and support. Socializing detracts from this journey. Goldsmith further, never allowed public or group discussions of his work, insisting that answers to questions were to come from a trusted teacher, or from the students work in silent prayer/meditation.<Goldsmith audio tapes>

Hundreds of students who are committed to following Goldsmith's original intentions and thereby keeping the message pure, and accurate, have named themselves "Goldsmithians".

Goldsmith's output was enormous. is a good research tool for anyone trying to track the publiction output of a particular author, in this case Joel Goldsmith.


Re: Christ Circle, Boulder Creek, CA, early to mid-1970's
Posted by: troskowick ()
Date: March 17, 2011 10:33PM

I left in 1978. I am sorry I don't remember you or your brothers. I do remember Sarah and Dihanna. Sarah was not the nicest person I ever met at the end, but in the very beginning (1972) she was really sweet and very kind to the kids. Lillian was a good friend to me but changed as time went on, became bitter and disillusioned. Arthur was (he died a few years ago) constantly trying to get away with something...that is the main reason I left. He talked about "Truth" but never told the truth, he talked about keeping things simple but everything was so convoluted...My daughter, Ilone, was born there in December of 1976. Her mother was Joanna but they may have left before you got there. If you have any specific questions let me know and I'll answer any I can..

Re: Christ Circle, Boulder Creek, CA, early to mid-1970's
Posted by: KristineB ()
Date: March 18, 2011 05:43AM

Thank you for any and all information you have given me. I wonder if your daughter, Ilone, was one of the babies in the nursery that i loved to rock in the rocking chair. I am grateful for any information I can get. I have always wondered if my mom knew what the place was all about. I have wondered if she knew it was getting ready to fall apart and that is why she came to get me. She has never explained. Were Sarah and Arthur married? Do you know Dihanna's last name. I would love to contact her. Do you remember any of the events I have mentioned?

Re: Christ Circle, Boulder Creek, CA, early to mid-1970's
Posted by: martinezdude ()
Date: June 19, 2012 10:34AM

My name is Robert B, I attended the school around 77-79 and was released late in the evening to my father after being taken to Tahoe (just before they moved to Elko Nevada) I remember quite a bit and many of the students/ teachers. I was able to get intouch back in the early 80's with my house mother Marilyn who was in Austria with the group at the time and that was my last contact with anyone. Over the years I ran into a student named Timothy (he later changed his name to Robin and lived in San Francisco) but evetually lost contact as I moved to Southern Ca. I remember being taken to Synanon and then on to boonville (a great location!) My memories are good and although Aurthur was a little on the excentric side my experience was a positive one. If anyone remembers me, feel free to say hello. I was also known as Joseph for a period and would occasionally play the song "Change Can Come"on the piano before meal time.

Re: Christ Circle, Boulder Creek, CA, early to mid-1970's
Posted by: KristineB ()
Date: June 20, 2012 01:52AM


I remember the song we used to sing before meal time, however, I can only remember bits and pieces of the song. Since you played the piano while we sang, I was hoping you might remember the words to the song. I have not been able to get it out of my mind, even after 34 years. I have so many questions that no one will answer. I was only 8-years-old at the time and everything I remember is detailed in my post of 3/7/11, I hope you will read it and see if you share any of my memories. My Mom gets defensive when I ask questions, which makes me feel as though there is something she doesn't want me to know. I feel I have no where else to turn. Which building did you live in? From what I remember many of the boys lived in Eddie Hall, I know my brothers did. Do you remember the names of any of the other buildings? Do you remember any of the things I mentioned in my post above? I don't remember you, but we were there at the same time and like I said I was very young. How old were you when you were there? I wish I knew why I was there. I would appreciate any and all information you can give me. Maybe it will help me finally put that chapter to rest and bring me some peace. Thank You

Was Marilyn the house Mother of Bagavaugn Hall? (Not sure of spelling)

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