The basic belief of the I AM Movement is that there is one God, who is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. The Great Central Sun is the center of the universe, which is the source of God’s authority. This presence brought existence through a spark in the divine flame, which became individual beings. The I AM presence is the light and the cells of the body, including the mind and heart. Misuse of this energy will result in discord and is responsible for the present condition of humanity. Activities for I AM members include quiet contemplation and repetition of affirmations. These are intended to affirm the individual’s attunement to God, also known as the Mighty I AM Presence. This devotional activity is repeated daily to neutralize the violent Consuming Flame within each individual. Totally committed individuals to the I AM Movement are called Hundred Percenters.
The I AM group was popular initially because the setting was at Mt. Shasta in California, not the Theosophical’s Near East or other exotic locations. In addition, there were nationalistic overtones, where adherents believe they dispel evil and the enemies of America with thought decrees. The St. Germain Foundation (1988:8) further explains,
“When the individual says, “I AM,” he is using the creative
attribute of the Godhead and announcing creating at his particular
point in the universe. The vibratory action of the word “I AM,”
either in thought or spoken word, is the release of the Power
of Creation; and whatever quality follows that Decree is instantly
imposed upon the electronic substance of the ethers.
Today, the organization is under a governing board of directors based outside Chicago in Schaumburg, Illinois. It is estimated that membership is between four and five thousand people worldwide and boasts three hundred I AM libraries. In 1950, the I AM group began putting on a pageant that celebrated the life of Jesus at Mt. Shasta. Jesus is considered an Ascended Master; therefore, the I AM group aligns with the Christian religion. The pageant occurs every August and has been open to the public since 1956. “The I AM Activity has achieved a longevity and level of acceptance by the local community beyond that of any other religious or esoteric groups associated with Mt. Shasta” (Zanger 1992:103). Ballard died of cirrhosis of the liver on December 29, 1939. His followers believed that death and aging had escaped him.