(Editor’s note: The Peace Mission announced the Transcendence of Mother Divine in March 2017. The text appears below. A pdf of the announcement appears here. News of Mother Divine’s death also appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times.)
MRS. M. J. DIVINE, named SWEET ANGEL DIVINE and better known as MOTHER DIVINE, cast off the material body on March 4, 2017 to live forever in the hearts, minds and righteous actions of the Friends and Followers of Rev. M. J. DIVINE, better known as FATHER DIVINE. MOTHER DIVINE passed peacefully in Her quarters at the Woodmont Estate in Gladwyne, Pa., lovingly attended by the devoted members of Her spiritual family.
Mrs. DIVINE emigrated from Canada in early 1946 to follow Her deeply felt religious calling to be near FATHER DIVINE and to serve His International Peace Mission Movement. On April 29th of that year, She was privileged to become FATHER DIVINE’s “Spotless Virgin Bride” in an ever-celibate partnership symbolic of the Marriage of the Soul and GOD, Christ and His Church, Heaven and Earth. FATHER DIVINE, understood by His Followers to be nothing less than the Incarnation of GOD, proclaimed the day an “International, Universal, Interracial Holiday,” and it has been celebrated grandly by Followers of FATHER DIVINE each year since.
Members of the Peace Mission understand SWEET ANGEL DIVINE to be the reincarnation of the same Divine Principle or Holy Spirit that animated the first MOTHER DIVINE, PENINNAH, with Whom FATHER DIVINE founded the Peace Mission Movement in the early 20th century.
FATHER DIVINE was a leading pioneer in civil rights Who advocated spiritual, social, political and economic cooperation between so-called races, creeds, nationalities, and political persuasions. His Personal example inspired the growth of the Peace Mission from a single simple communal house-church in Sayville, Long Island to a large, thousands-strong religious movement with branches on five continents. Experiencing its greatest growth during and immediately following the Great Depression, the Peace Mission established scores of race and class-integrated economic collectives that provided economic uplift to tens of thousands of people, rescuing them from poverty and giving meaning, direction and dignity to their lives. The Peace Mission was the first to integrate many communities, especially in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Members of the Peace Mission were inspired to pool resources and opened fully-integrated collective hotels, restaurants and other businesses throughout the United States. All these enterprises were guided by the principles of “evangelical economics,” that is, providing honest and reliable service and high-quality goods and services for the lowest possible prices. For many years, the Peace Mission restaurants provided multi-course, high-quality meals to the public for ten and fifteen cents, and gratis to those who could not pay. Similar exceptionally low prices prevailed in integrated Peace Mission hotels, providing food and housing to many thousands of underprivileged people.
MOTHER DIVINE served as FATHER DIVINE’s Helpmate in administering the large, thousands-strong religious movement and its cooperative enterprises from Their Marriage in 1946 until FATHER DIVINE cast off the material body on September 10, 1965. Followers do not believe that FATHER DIVINE ever ceased to be fully present and spiritually operative, but since that time, MOTHER DIVINE has been recognized as Co-Pastor and visible Leader of the Peace Mission Movement. She has been a loving Spiritual Guide and Mentor to Followers and a widely-acknowledged inspiration to countless friends and well-wishers.
Though MOTHER DIVINE became an American citizen when She married FATHER DIVINE in 1946, She became formally naturalized under Her legal name, SWEET ANGEL DIVINE, in a mass ceremony at Valley Forge on December 19, 1977. Like FATHER DIVINE, MOTHER consistently demonstrated civic-mindedness and devotion to the founding principles of the United States as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The date of Her naturalization is celebrated in the Peace Mission as “American Christmas.”
Among MOTHER DIVINE’s many accomplishments, Her work to protect and preserve the legacy of FATHER DIVINE includes securing National Historic Landmark status for the Woodmont Estate in 1998, securing regional landmark status for FATHER DIVINE’s early home in Sayville, Long Island, and overseeing the design and construction of FATHER DIVINE’s Library and Museum, a 5, 500 square-foot, archival facility at Woodmont built to house and display the very large and historically important Peace Mission collection. The Library and Museum is expected to open to the public later this year.
MOTHER DIVINE was acknowledged and honored with countless formal recognitions from churches, colleges, civic and business associations, and gardening, historical preservation, and architectural societies. These include awards or commendations from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City Council of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia School of Law, Restore Philadelphia, and The Victorian Society.
MOTHER DIVINE was sought out by people from all classes and walks of life, including intellectual, religious and political leaders, social justice activists, and luminaries in the media and performing arts. She received many seekers and holders of public office, including presidential candidates and several consecutive Mayors of Philadelphia, addressed national political parties, read scripture at the 1971 Inauguration of Governor Milton J. Shapp, and was invited to address the Philadelphia City Council. In all these encounters, She emphasized the importance of righteousness, justice and truth as exemplified by FATHER DIVINE as the guiding light, and She consistently embodied those principles in Her own lived example.