Jesus said there would be false christs in the last days. There have been many through the centuries. Here is yet another.
End Times News Update
Sign: False Christs (cult news)
Scripture: Matthew 24:4-5
News Source: News York Times
Mother Divine, Who Took Over Her Husband’s Cult, Dies at 91
By WILLIAM GRIMES
MARCH 14, 2017
It came as a bolt from the blue. On Aug. 7, 1946, Father Divine, the
charismatic leader of the International Peace Mission Movement,
introduced his new wife as “the Spotless Virgin Bride” to a gathering
of stunned followers at a Philadelphia banquet.
The Rev. Major Jealous Divine, regarded as God incarnate by his
disciples, had further news. Sweet Angel, as his 21-year-old former
stenographer was known to the movement, had taken into herself the
spirit of Father Divine’s first wife, Peninnah, or Sister Penny, who
had died in 1943. The two women were one and the same, he announced.
Moreover, his union with the woman henceforth known as Mother Divine
would be chaste — a marriage in name only, he said — because “God is
“When Father married me, he symbolically married everyone else,”
Mother Divine told Newsday in 2005. “It’s not a personal marriage.
It’s Christ married to his church.”
Mother Divine, who led the movement after her husband’s death in 1965,
died on March 4 at Woodmont, the Peace Mission’s estate and
headquarters in Gladwyne, Pa., outside Philadelphia, the organization
announced. She was 91.
Mother Divine was a mysterious figure. Little is known about her early
life. She was born Edna Rose Ritchings on April 4, 1925, in Vancouver,
where her father, Charles, ran the Strathcona Floral Company, a
nursery and flower shop. Her mother was the former Mabel Farr.
At 15, she became fascinated by Father Divine and his religion, which
preached a gospel of self-help, abstinence, economic independence and
social equality. By providing cheap meals and social services during
the Depression, he attracted a large following in Harlem, where he
maintained his headquarters, and through his many missions, known as
heavens, elsewhere in the United States.
The revelation came to her, she wrote in Ebony magazine in 1950, “that
Father Divine is God Almighty personified in a beautiful, holy body.”
According to Sara Harris, the author of “Father Divine: Holy Husband”
(1953), Edna Rose left home for Montreal, where she moved in with a
family of Father Divine’s disciples, took the name Sweet Angel and
found work as a stenographer at a costume jewelry business. She then
made her way to Philadelphia to meet Father Divine and was hired as
his personal stenographer. The marriage quickly followed.
Unknown to the faithful who had assembled on Aug. 7, the marriage had
taken place on April 29 in Washington, at the house of the Rev. Albert
L. Shadd, a recent convert.
For months, the news remained secret. “We could not have released it,”
Sister Mary, a member of Father Divine’s inner circle, told Ms.
Harris. “If we had, there would have been no telling what might have
happened. The marriage was such a world-shaking event, it might have
made followers vibrate strongly enough to destroy themselves.”
The much-loved Sister Penny was black, for one thing, and her death
had never been announced. The new Mother Divine was white, and
although the Peace Mission regarded the idea of race as sinful, nearly
three-quarters of the membership was black, and the sudden appearance
of a white replacement came as a shock to the Peace Mission and to the
black news media.
At her presentation as Mother Divine, Sweet Angel made a striking
impression. “She wore no makeup, but her blond hair was waved and
beautifully arranged, accentuating her blue eyes and a profile of
classic regularity,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. “Of good
figure, she wore a flowered dress in lavender green on cream, set off
by a gold brooch on her bosom and two rings, one a large diamond.”
For followers confused by the merging of Sweet Angel’s identity with
that of his first wife, Father Divine offered clarification.
“The individual is the personification of that which expresses
personification,” he said. “Therefore he comes to be personally the
expression of that which was impersonal, and he is the personal
expression of it and the personification of the pre-personification of
God Almighty! Peace, it’s wonderful!”
Mother Divine traveled with her husband as he toured the Peace
Mission’s outposts, presided with him over ritual “communion banquets”
and, as his health declined, took over the management of the
enterprise, now shrinking.
In the glory days of the 1930s, the Peace Mission amassed a sizable
real estate portfolio, including large hotels in Philadelphia. The
movement’s members, required to turn over their worldly possessions
and, in many cases, their earnings, added to the coffers.
Woodmont, a French Gothic confection built in 1892 by a steel baron,
sat on 73 lush acres. Visitors were welcome, as long as they adhered
to the movement’s tenets, posted in the parking lot: no smoking,
drinking, profanity or undue mixing of the sexes.
As the United States left the hardships of the Depression behind, the
Peace Mission lost some of its appeal, and the rising civil rights
movement drained much of its support. Father Divine did not recognize
race, referring to black Americans as “dark-complected.” Like the
Shakers, Peace Mission followers did not procreate, which further
thinned their ranks.
As years went by, Mother Divine sold off the Peace Mission’s holdings
and gathered a dwindling number of older adherents around her at
Woodmont, where she ruled in sovereign fashion.
In 1971, her mettle was tested when Jim Jones, a cult leader who
borrowed many of his ideas from Father Divine, tried to take over the
Peace Mission. With 200 followers who had traveled by bus to
Philadelphia from California, he attended a weekly banquet at the
Divine Lorraine Hotel.
After listening to fawning praise offered by his disciples, he rose
and said: “Father Divine has conferred his mantle on me. We are from
the same celestial plane and are messengers. His spirit has come to
rest in my body.”
Mother Divine ordered him and his entourage off the premises. Mr.
Jones mounted a six-year campaign of sabotage, on one occasion sending
empty buses to spirit away members of the Peace Mission. His efforts
came to little. The mass suicide of the Jones cult in Guyana in 1978,
and Mr. Jones’s death by a gunshot wound to the head at the time,
ended the threat.
Mother Divine rarely spoke to the news media and fended off questions
about herself and her past. “What’s important is what we are now and
what we aspire to be,” she told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1988.
Father Divine, she insisted, never left the Peace Mission, as his
death was a merely physical event. In spirit, he continued to guide
the mission. “God’s going to have his way, with or without us,” Mother
Divine told Newsday. “The more I learn about Father and what he did,
the more I know that he’s God. That’s my satisfaction.”
Source: The New York Times