(Editor’s note: This article was originally on the Libertynet website.)
The SHRINE To Life At Woodmont. Erected to the Life, Work and Words of FATHER DIVINE,
GOD Almighty by the combined churches of the Peace Mission Movement.
The Shrine to Life
FATHER DIVINE made the Supreme Sacrifice on September 10, 1965, after which time MOTHER DIVINE and officials of the combined Churches of the Peace Mission Movement collaborated with William Hyle Thompson, Architect, Richard Murphy, Associate Architect and Artist, and Donald Delue, Sculptor, to design and construct a work befitting the life and Ministry of FATHER DIVINE. The Shrine to life at Woodmont was dedicated September 10, 11 and 12, 1968 A.D.F.D.
The purpose of the Shrine is twofold: providing a sanctuary in which the Body of GOD is enshrined, and acting as a reminder of HIS Covenant fulfilled from the beginning of biblical history.
Reminiscent of the Tabernacle containing the Ark of the Covenant, the Shrine brings the ancient and modern together. Its powerful simplicity denotes the Personal life of FATHER DIVINE, its atmosphere of Peace conveys HIS serenity and humility, its strength and purity of line, HIS staunch stand for the high moral and spiritual values of life made clear by HIS own Example, which are the foundation stones of the Peace Mission Movement as it stands today, a bulwark of faith in a troubled world.
FATHER DIVINE’S Words on January 16, 1934 incised on the interior walls, speak of the Covenant:
Condescendingly I came as an existing Spirit unembodied, until condescendingly imputing MYSELF in a Bodily Form in the likeness of men I came, that I might speak to them in their own language, coming to a country that is supposed to be the Country of the Free, where mankind has been privileged to serve GOD according to the dictates of his own conscience coming sponsoring this Peace Mission and this spiritual revelation in the hearts of the children of men, and establishing the Kingdom of GOD in the midst of them; that they might become to be living epistles as individuals, seen and read of men, and verifying that which has long since been said:
‘The tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and God Himself shall be with them, and shall be their God, and they shall be his people.
THE NEW DAY, February 7, 1953, p.3
It has been stated earlier that a true follower, who brings his body into complete subjection to the law of the Spirit of life that JESUS CHRIST taught and lived by, will not die. There is a question in the minds of many, therefore, as to the apparent contradiction of this statement by FATHER DIVINE laying His Body down on September 10, 1965, that It could not be seen by the world.
MOTHER DIVINE reveals the beauty and profundity of FATHER’S Supreme Sacrifice on September 10, 1965, in Chapter 8.
Dedicated September 10, 11, 12, 1968.
The Shrine at Woodmont, powerful in its simplicity, denotes the Personal Life of FATHER DIVINE. Its peaceful atmosphere conveys His Serenity and Humility. Its strength and purity of line, HIS staunch stand for the high moral and spiritual values of life made clear by His Own Example which are the foundation stones of the Peace Mission Movement as it stands today, a bulwark of faith in a troubled world.
Its purpose is twofold. It is the Holy Sanctuary enshrining the Body of GOD FATHER DIVINE and it is a reminder of the consistency and continuity of GOD’S covenant fulfilled from the beginning of Biblical history to the present time.
‘And the LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways.” Deuteronomy 28:9.
THE SHRINE places on record in granite the advent of the dispensation Anno Domini Father Divine, GOD’S appearance on earth in Bodily Form in fulfillment of His covenant to “establish an holy people unto himself.”
Ground for THE SHRINE was broken on August 9, 1966, after almost a year of careful preparation by the architect, William Heyl Thompson, at the end of the terraced west gardens of the Woodmont estate of FATHER and MOTHER DIVINE in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania.
Framed by the trees of the garden, the simple mass of the Sierra White granite walls of The Shrine stand out in bold relief against a green background. Twenty-six feet in diameter, it rises out of the center of a circular court surrounded by a low parapet wall. At the four corners, four free standing columns support the large pyramid, the apex of which is twenty-five feet above the main floor level. This is reminiscent of the Tabernacle and four supporting pillars of the Tent containing the Ark of the Covenant as described in Exodus xxv.
At the base of the pyramid, a large transitional octagonal canopy has been placed to shed water. From this, between the four columns, are the convex-concave curved walls or curtains hung from the roof, again reminiscent of the walls of the Tent, which are floating and completely surrounded by glass to give the illusion of lightness.
As one enters THE SHRINE, you behold the Ark of the Covenant upon which rests two golden bronze Cherubim calm and serene. The radiant red granite Ark rests upon a circular dais of the same granite. There are three matching benches, one in front of each of the convex-concave walls. The floor is a green and black “Opalescent” granite. The walls are White Sierra granite.
Beyond the Ark, a golden bronze dove ascends in free flight under the bronze letters
P E A C E.
On three of the four interior walls these Words of FATHER DIVINE are carved into the granite, designed and cut by the skillful hands of the artist, Richard Murphy:
*’Condescendingly I came as an existing Spirit unembodied until condescendingly imputing Myself in a Bodily Form in the likeness of men I came, that I might speak to them in their own language, coming to a country that is supposed to be the Country of the Free, where mankind has been privileged to *serve GOD according to the dictates of his own conscience – coming sponsoring this Peace Mission and this Spiritual revelation in the hearts of the children of men, and establishing the Kingdom of GOD in the midst of them; that they might become to be living epistles as individuals, seen and read of men, and verifying that which has long since been said: *’The Tabernacle of GOD is with men, and HE shall dwell with them, and GOD HIMSELF shall be with them, and shall be their GOD, and they shall be HIS people!’ – FATHER DIVINE
The remaining wall bears the dedication:
*”GOD ALMIGHTY, CHANGELESS PERFECTION, REDEEMER AND SAVIOR OF ALL MANKIND, THE REVEREND M. J. DIVINE, Ms. D., D. D., FOUNDER, BISHOP AND PASTOR OF THE PEACE MISSION MOVEMENT. A.D.F.D.”
Above the walls the pyramid is lined with gold mosaic tile, and then, as a crown, is the glass apex through which one can view the clouds and sky.
The Great Bronze Doors, unique in design and meaning, are the work of the well-known sculptor, Donald H. DeLue. The doors depict GOD’S condescension to man and man’s aspirations to GOD..
The great bronze Portal of Life Eternal, dedicated September 10, 1970 A.D.F.D. is 10 feet 6 inches high, 6 feet 6 inches wide and 3 inches thick. Each leaf weighs approximately 1100 pounds with an additional 500 pounds of sculpture attached. Relief is 3.5 inches at the highest point.
Bronze figures depict the New Day and Dispensation Anno Domini FATHER DIVINE.
A flaming meridian sun, symbol of the brilliant New Day, is the focal point for the figures that portray GOD’S Condescension to man and man’s ascension to GOD. Magnetized by the Glory of GOD, the figures flow in fluid motion around the sun and other related positions.
Within the full, bright splendor of the sun, GOD, aflame with HIS DIVINE LOVE, descends to lift fallen humanity into the Light of the A.D.F.D. Dispensation. As HE reaches down to grasp the hand of man, near the lower edge of the sun, man reaches up for the Hand of GOD. Within the circle there are two more figures: Spiritualized Man who has emerged victorious and triumphant, aglow and radiant in his true status as the Son of GOD, and Mortal Man, diminutive and in his sinful insignificant state who has been cast off and left behind.
Two figures in powerful motion near the top of the door portraying GOD’S creation of the elements and the heavenly bodies, sweep above and around the upper portion of the sun.
At the half circle, right and left, two angels herald the good news to all the world of GOD’S coming to establish Heaven on earth.
Beneath the sun, leaping upward in glad rejoicing for the Reign of GOD on earth, Liberty, with bells ringing, rejoices over her country that has given GOD the privilege and the place to wed HIS creation and establish HIS Kingdom on earth, and on the opposite side The Constitution, with the torch and the law in her hands and the American flag behind her, gives legal authority for the magnification of the established law into the Law of the Spirit of Life.
Repentant Man bows in humble submission to the Will of GOD opposite the figure of man reaching up to his Creator.
As man reaches for GOD’S Hand, his feet extend downward into the smaller circle of the earth. Thus Heaven and earth are brought together as material man becomes spiritualized in oneness with his G 0 D. Philadelphia, Cradle of Democracy, further proclaimed the Country Seat of the World by FATHER DIVINE, is indicated on the North American continent by a small star.
At the right and left of this circle, two groups of figures depict Humanity, in its varying stages of awareness of the Presence of GOD.
Justice is seated at the left and below Humanity. Beneath her feet a cistern gushing water alludes to a passage from Scripture, Jeremiah 2:13, which indicates a materialistic Godless society that world undermine Justice but for the righteous Law of GOD FATHER DIVINE established in the hearts of HIS people..
On the right, The Triumph portrays Good overcoming Evil in GOD’S Kingdom on earth. The flaming sword of the Angel keeps the way of the Tree of Life. The pointed ear of the Evil One suggests the bestial mind and characteristics within man for which there is no place in Heaven.
Beneath these figures, in juxtaposition, Pure Love and Brotherhood relate to man’s ability to live together in love and peace under the Fatherhood of GOD in HIS Reign on earth.
Two Angels of GOD’S Presence, with wings outstretched and bodies extended in graceful protective form, depict GOD’S Presence that has been, is and always will be with man, constantly leading, guiding, protecting and giving every good thing, though man sins and disregards HIM.
The angels hover over two groups of figures, The Sowers and The Reapers, and The Builders.
Mankind, in restored status as true Sons of GOD, adhering to HIS Law alone, now lives in his Eden, Earth, where no ungodly thing can enter to disturb, sowing to the Spirit and reaping the fruit of the same as he goes about producing good things to enrich the earth and bring peace and abundance to all men.
Building constructively upon the solid foundation of the Law of GOD, men work together to create the material perfection of GOD’S Utopia. Their skill and ability is combined for the good of all as their mental, spiritual and physical faculties develop to and for the glory of GOD in the A.D.F.D. Dispensation.
The solid Rock of GOD, the Rock of Faith upon which the storm beats to no avail, stands as strong and immovable as GOD’S Plan and Purpose that cannot be altered, deterred or ignored by any opposing force. Rising from the deep and extending into the heavens, it represents the unalterable fact that GOD FATHER DIVINE IS!
This is THE SHRINE at Woodmont. It speaks of many things; of life, of love and beauty.
FATHER DIVINE said:
As a Living Shrine I Came . . . as a Shrine I Stand, as a Shrine I Move, I Live and I have My Being and when you think of ME with the spirit of sincerity and think harmoniously in this direction, your prayers will be heard and answered.’