Messages to Attendees and Speakers

Messages sent to conference attendees and speakers are posted in reverse chronological order, so that you may see messages that were sent out before you registered.

7 June 2018

Here is a list of events occurring in Philadelphia before, during, or after the 2018 Annual Conference.


July 4th Fireworks in Philadelphia - Welcome America!

Celebrate before, during and after the Fourth of July in Philadelphia with “Welcome America” -- a week of festive events and activities annually celebrating America’s birthday in America’s birthplace.

The festivities all lead up to one of the largest free concerts in America on July 4th and spectacular fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, usually starting around 9:30 p.m.

July 4th Fireworks in Philadelphia 2018

We are excited to announce Grammy winning global superstar Pitbull @pitbull will headline the Wawa Welcome America July 4th Concert! @thephillypops BIG Band will return with guest star Tony & Grammy Award winning Heather Headley.
Where: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA
When: 7pm -10 pm

500 wonderful events happening at a variety of outdoor spaces and venues up and down the Delaware River waterfront.


 Applied Mechanics

THIS IS ON RECORD is a new play about media technologies, how they evolve over time, and how a culture uses these technologies to construct stories about itself. Inspired by some of Philadelphia’s own history, between 1968 and the present day, the play follows society’s documentarians: the writers, archivists, balladeers and broadcasters that shape the media we consume. THIS IS ON RECORD examines the ethos, politics, and methodologies of documentation. Who makes the narrative of our culture? How does that story get shaped by those who document it? How does the medium used to communicate a story affect the telling of it?
PLAYWRIGHT: Applied Mechanics
DIRECTOR: Rebecca Wright
CATEGORIES: Comedy Drama Experimental
The Glass Factory
1517 N. Bailey Street
Philadelphia, PA 19121

Mamma Mia!

MAY 15 - JUL 15, 2018
Walnut Street Theatre
Put on your platform shoes, your feather boas and get ready for one of the most popular musicals of all time, Mamma Mia! On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings 3 men from her mother's past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. The story-telling magic of ABBA's timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship. This sensational production contains ABBA's greatest hits, including "Super Trouper," "Lay All Your Love On Me," "Dancing Queen," "Waterloo" and more! Over 60 million people all around the world have fallen in love with the characters, the story and the music that make Mamma Mia! the ultimate feel-good musical!
MUSIC & LYRICS: Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus
DIRECTOR: Richard Stafford
ESTIMATED RUN TIME: 2 hours and 40 minutes
CATEGORIES: Classics Comedy Family Musical
Walnut Street Theatre Mainstage
825 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107


JUN 13 - JUL 1, 2018
Academy of Music
Hop onto a magic carpet with Disney's smash hit Broadway musical, which heads out across the country for its first ever North American tour. Based on the beloved animated movie, it's the wondrous tale of lovable urchin Aladdin, the evil Jafar and the beautiful Princess Jasmine. Oh, and the larger than life Genie as well of course! Featuring all the songs from the movie including, 'A Whole New World' and 'A Friend Like Me', Aladdin also welcomes some brand new hits my music maestros Alan Menken and Chad Beguelin.
The Broadway production opened in 2014, and was greeted with enthusiastic reviews and five Tony nominations. Spectacular fun for all the family, the show has launched international productions in Japan, Germany and the UK, but this is the first time it's played outside of New York in America.
Aladdin is a charming street urchin in Agrabah, who, when 'exploring' the mysterious Cave of Wonders, uncovers an ancient lamp that proves to be more than just a lighting solution. He unwittingly frees the lamp's resident wacky Genie, who grants him three wishes. Transformed from pauper to Prince, Aladdin catches the eye of beautiful but bored Princess Jasmine, who longs for some adventure of her own!
But it's not all a smooth magic carpet ride, because Aladdin isn't the only one that knows of the lamp's power. Enter the nefarious Jafar and his minions, who have plans for three wishes of their own and it's up to Aladdin to defeat him to keep the Kingdom from his clutches.

21 May 2018

An ICSA annual conference typically has over 100 speakers expressing many different points of view. It is impossible to attend all sessions. How can one decide which sessions to attend? Here are some suggestions:
Pasted below is information that identifies sessions that are reserved for former members. Of course, former members may attend other sessions and are not obligated to attend any of the sessions reserved for former members.

Former Member Sessions

The following sessions are specifically aimed at former members dealing with recovery issues. Please see the agenda for other sessions that may interest former members. Former members may attend any session that is not explicitly restricted, e.g., ‘for mental health professionals only.’”

Conference Sessions

Wednesday 10:00-6:00- Preconference Former Member Workshop (Ashley Allen, Carol Giambalvo, and Ann Stamler, Coordinators)
Thursday 11:00-12:30- Boundaries (Rosanne Henry & Elizabeth Blackwell) Friday 9:00-10:30- After the Cult: Who am I? (Leona Furnari)
Friday 11:00-12:30- Critical Thinking for Former Group Members (Tom Baier)
Saturday 9:00-10:30- Cults and Sexuality (Steve Eichel, Cyndi Matthews, and Doni Whitsett)

Open Discussions

Thursday 2:30-4:00- Open Discussion: Born or Raised in Cultic Groups (Elizabeth Blackwell)
Thursday 4:30-6:00- Open Discussion: First-Generation Former Cultic Group Members (Rachel Bernstein & Dylesia Barner)
Friday 2:30-4:00- Open Discussion: Born or Raised in Cultic Groups (Ashley Allen & Nitai Joseph)
Friday 4:30-6:00- Open Discussion: First-Generation Former Cultic Group Members (Dan Shaw & Cathrine Moestue)
Saturday 2:30-4:00- Open Discussion: Born or Raised in Cultic Groups (Ann Stamler & Samie Brosseau)
Saturday 11:00-12:30- Open Discussion: First-Generation Former Cultic Group Members (Carol Giambalvo)

14 May 2018

To: Speakers

Conference home page with links to details:

We will re-send this reminder periodically. 

24 April 2018

TO: Speakers, Poster Presenters, and Phoenix Project Contributors at ICSA Annual Conference
FR: ICSA Conference Committee
RE: Bookstore at Annual Conference

As a service to attendees, ICSA runs a bookstore at its annual conferences in the USA. In addition to ICSA books, we also consider selling on consignment books by speakers, poster presenters, and Phoenix Project contributors. If a book is accepted for the bookstore, we ask the contributor to bring a supply of books (usually 10, though popular books may sell 20 or more). We usually sell books at prices that are easy to give change for, e.g., $10, $15, $20, etc. We mark the number, the price, and the percent that ICSA gives to the author (usually 60%, though this can vary). We pay authors only for books sold, and authors are expected to take back any unsold books. Authors may also – or instead - bring flyers for their book, which can be left on a table used to display flyers from attendees.

If you are interested in selling your book through ICSA, please send us the following:
  • Your name 
  • Book title 
  • Copyright year 
  • Publisher (note if you have self-published) 
  • A brief description of the book 
  • List price 
Reply by May 15, 2018

We will get back to you.

10 April 2018

Subject Line: How to Get the Most From the ICSA Annual Conference in Philadelphia, July 5-7, 2018

Variety of Attendees: An ICSA annual conference typically has over 100 speakers expressing many different points of view. Attendees are former group members, researchers, helping professionals, and families concerned about a loved one. We also sometimes have current members of groups present. The conference is open to the public.

This variety can be challenging for some former members. Here are some suggestions to help meet this challenge:
  • Attend the preconference former member workshop. It will help prepare you for the conference. 
  • Though you may sometimes hear views with which you disagree or which you may even find offensive, we hope that you will listen and, if you feel comfortable doing so, express your disagreement during question and answer periods. You have as much right as anybody else to state your opinions. But keep in mind that others have a right to disagree with you. 
  • If a session makes you uncomfortable, feel free to walk out. 
  • If you want to talk about feelings that arise during the conference, consider talking to a member of our Assistance Team (identifiable by their nametags). These are counselors with experience working with former group members. 
  • Each day of the conference will have two open discussion sessions, one for people born or raised in cultic groups and one for people who joined a group as an adult (“first generation” former members). Attend these sessions to discuss topics that may not be on the agenda or that are of special concern to you. 
ICSA annual conferences are informative, exciting events where you can meet people with whom you will have much in common. We hope the conference is rewarding for you.

22 March 2018 - Message to speakers
Conference home page with links to details:

We will re-send this reminder periodically.

22 February 2018 - Message to speakers

Subject Line: Reminder. Things to Do: Speakers at ICSA Annual Conference in Philadelphia
We will re-send this reminder periodically.

12 February 2018 - Bus Tour

Pat Ryan, Joe Kelly, and Joe Szimhart (see people profiles) are organizing a special guided bus tour of Philadelphia new religious movement sites after the ICSA conference. They will also serve as tour guides. The tour will take place from 1 pm to 6 pm on Sunday, July 8, 2018.

Tentatively, the tour may include the Father Divine historical landmark, the Swedenborg Cathedral, the Kelpius Cave, The I AM Temple, a café frequented by followers of Madame Blavatsky, and other sites. Pat and the two Joes will provide an interesting commentary on the various sites to be visited. 

The fee for the tour is $35.

If you have already registered, select only the bus tour ticket. If you have not yet registered, select the appropriate conference registration ticket (e.g., nonmember) AND the bus tour ticket (if you want to take the Sunday tour).  
Sign up for the tour and/or register for the conference.

Space is limited and there is an end-date on purchasing tour tickets, so register soon.

1 February 2018 - call for work

The Phoenix Project invites your participation in the next Phoenix Project of Ex-Cult member art, literary, and other creative works. If you are a former cult member or born and raised in a high demand group environment, please submit your creative works, related to cult affiliation, for this year’s exhibit at the annual ICSA conference in Philadelphia, PA, July 5-7.

The Phoenix Project consists of both an exhibit room and a performance time. This means that works considered for inclusion are those in a number of genres: visual artwork in two and three dimensions, musical compositions, video, dance, and literary works such as drama, short story, and poetry.

It is requested that works submitted pertain to the cult group experience, such as joining the cult, time in the group, exiting, and aftereffects.

Works may be kept anonymous, if desired.

For more information, please contact Phoenix Project Director Diana Pletts at

Thank you!
27 January 2018 - call for posters

The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is conducting its 2018 Annual International Conference with Info-Secte/Info-Cult of Montreal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 5-7, 2018 (preconference workshops on Wednesday July 4th). The conference theme is the global challenge of young people born, raised or recruited into extremist groups, abusive religious organizations, or coercive/exploitative relationships. The conference committee is especially interested in considering poster sessions from students.

Please submit your research, including research in progress, and be part of a growing and exciting international community of researchers in the field of cultic studies, religious studies, and sectarianism, undue influence, and new religious movements.

Your poster can focus on one or more of the many areas in this diverse and emerging field including, but not limited to:
  • social psychology or sociology of influence 
  • study of harm or treatment of victims 
  • history, anthropology, and culture of cults or sects 
  • demographic studies on the prevalence of new religious or other movements 
  • policy and political science of cultic groups 
  • individual subjectivity, agency, and creativity in cultural groups 
  • Boundaries between the individual and society in group and other contexts. 
Your proposal should consist of an abstract of 300 words or less. We also welcome group research project submissions. We also need a short biographical sketch. If you already have one on our people profile page, let us know if it is okay or needs changing. If we do not have a bio, please send one. Send your proposal to

In a poster session, one explains one’s paper on a poster placed on an easel or a table or a wall. Typically, the poster presenters will pin or tape pages (e.g., an abstract with a large font) from their paper. You should also have either copies of your paper to hand out or a business card attendees can use to e-mail a request that you send them a copy of your paper. Attendees pass through the poster area, examining the posters and speaking with authors individually. In a poster presentation, one does not formally present to a group; however, one has an opportunity for quality interactions and followup with those who are most interested in your work. ICSA will contact poster presenters about logistical details as the conference draws near.

ICSA is NOT accepting proposals for speaking, only for posters. The deadline for speaking proposals is long past.

Deadline for abstracts and bio information: May 1, 2018

20 January 2018 - guided tour of Philadelphia cult/nrm sites

Pat Ryan, Joe Kelly, and Joe Szimhart are organizing a special guided bus tour of Philadelphia cult/NRM sites for the Sunday after the ICSA conference. The tour will take place from 1 pm to 6 pm on Sunday, July 8, 2018. If you are interested in attending, please hold the date and adjust your travel plans.

Tentatively, the tour may include the Father Divine historical landmark, the Swedenborg Cathedral, the Kelpius Cave, The I AM Temple, a café frequented by followers of Madame Blavatsky, and other sites. Pat and the two Joes will provide an interesting commentary on the various sites to be visited.

Since we are still working out details, we do not yet know the precise price of the tour. However, we expect it to be in about $40 for the afternoon.

The annual conference will take place July 5-7, 2018, with preconference workshops for former members, families, mental health professionals, educators, and researchers on July 4, 2018. More information, including registration: