THE HISTORY OF SUN SPIRITUALIST CAMP, TONOPAH, ARIZONA
By Opal Mason, Historian
SUN SPIRITUALIST CAMP FOUNDERS
FRED AND SUSAN HOGE
Fred and Susan Hoge (pictured above) bought 320 acres, no buildings; just desert Land a lady wanted to get rid of. As Fred walked on this land for the first time, he saw the same vision he had seen in New York State so he knew “This was the place.”
He sold 200 acres to a man down the road for $50 an acre so he had money to build on this land. Much later he sold 40 acres to Mr. David Curtz for $250 an acre. Then he sold more acreage to the highway department when Interstate 10 came through years ago. Fred donated 40 acres to Sun Camp for the Religion of Spiritualism. The first building built was the little white cottage at the entranceway.
Fred and Susan lived here while other improvements were being made on this 40 acres. First the land was cleared of all brush and an access road was cleared from the east so vehicles could drive back to camp on an old dusty trail. Susan remembers Fred digging the well by hand with Robert Spooner and another friend from Phoenix. They would pull the pail of dirt up by a rope and empty it.” she said. Also, “Fred got permission from a man that lived south of the Camp to haul sand from his creek bed for all cement floors and to cement concrete blocks as buildings went up. Much shoveling and hauling,” Susan recalls. “Fred and I put the ceiling up inside of the Chapel”, Susan reminisces.
Susan’s sister, Catherine remembers they were holding services outside until the Chapel was built. “There was no electricity so we used oil lamps and lanterns.” There were many trees planted as roadways were etched on the grounds. Robert Spooner remembers digging the well by hand, planting and watering trees from barrels pulled around on a trailer by tractor, clearing land from brush and laying in water pipes underground.
Also, he helped build the Chapel, Community Kitchen, and Guest Lodge! Sun Spiritualist Camp held its first service in its Healing Shrine, Sunday, October 19, 1958. This nine-sided edifice with recessed platform and alcove back of the altar has a seating capacity of 110. Its roof and ceiling was engineered so there are no supporting pillars to obstruct the view and the colors on each wall blended for Healing Power.
The bell in the tower was tolling, to call at least 50 persons to worship in This Healing Shrine, a Temple of Truth. Divine Joy and Love beat in the heart of Fred Hoge as he looked over the Congregation for the first time, remembering the Spiritual guidance that brought Him to the here and now.
Beside Fred, on the podium, sat his lovely wife, and helpmate, Susan, whose Love and devotion helped him all the way; and the chairman was Robert E. Spooner who had spent many long hours working toward this day; and at last, here they were on this glorious Sabbath Day!
Mr. Spooner announced Fred Hoge as Founder and Lecturer. Fred (69 years of age) greeted all and welcomed them warmly; and let it be known, each one attending this first service felt the glow of Divine Love warm their hearts as Jesus proclaimed, His shrine was manifest on Earth! The lecture was delivered by Dr. Joseph Farley (from the spirit side – through Mr. Hoge). Dr. Farley opened with these words, “I have waited 29 years for this moment.”
All could feel the very great emotion that motivated this dedicated soul! Moreover, one could feel all the events, strivings and aspirations that had actuated the intensity of his ardent feelings and hopes, to bring forth something actual and of lasting benefit for the enlistment of mankind! “And now that the moment has come, I will deliver this message to you – it’s A four letter word – L – O – V – E! “Love ye one another”! “God Is Love!”
Yet here, mid the expanse of the Arizona Desert, bathed in God’s sunshine, in the quiet profound, never have these spoken and lovely words gone forth with greater potency to be eternally engraved upon the aspiring souls of man!” Further, he said. “Love is a fragrant flower garden! Love IS created! Love creates all good! If you have Love in your heart, how much easier is your work, and how much better! It is through Love that you reach the highest heights in Spiritualism, and the time TO DO IS NOW! Use your mind and be careful of what you do, and what you speak -That it is in LOVE and in TRUTH!” Each Soul who had a hand in creating this eventful time then proclaimed –
“Arouse within my breast, the will to do – the desire to serve – else, there shall be no rest!”
– Opal Mason, Historian
Sun Spiritualist Camp
2525 N. 355th Avenue
Tonopah, Arizona 85354-7459 USA