Pentecostalism in the Black Community

When did Father Divine become the Messenger and the Son of Father Jehovia?

Father Divine (1879–1965), met the preacher Samuel Morris in 1907, and the two united in a ministry. After that, Morris called himself Father Jehovia, and Baker became the Messenger and the Son. Reverend Bishop Saint John the Vine, or John A. Hickerson, joined them, and the three built up a following at their residence. They went their separate ways in 1912. The Messenger, or Father Divine, returned to the South and spread his message as he traveled. His pattern of worship consisted of preaching, singing, and lavish Holy Communion banquets. His following then was predominantly black women who found him liberating, as he denounced male chauvinism. Baker drew the ire of black ministers, and a confrontation in Savannah in 1913 led to his imprisonment and sixty days on a chain gang. By 1917 he had married a woman named Peninnah, who became known as Mother Divine, and spread his gospel to the North as well. He settled in Sayville, Long Island, New York, and widened his support to attract middle- and upper-class whites. Then he shifted his base to New York City, where he held a series of successful meetings at Harlem’s Rockville Palace. Father Divine established a Peace Mission that included restaurants and other businesses that became the source of much of his revenue. His mission grew rapidly in 1937, but his entire institution declined after that. He moved his Peace Mission to Philadelphia around 1942, but the aging and frail Divine ceased public appearances in 1963 and died two years later.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy African American History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App