This is a Section 1, Chapter 2 of the “The Peace Mission Movement” book by Mother Divine, published in 1982.
1. Economic Foundation. What followers do with their money.
Photo: Peace Mission Democratic CO-OP Garage on 725 Broad Street, Philadelphia
Upon becoming a follower of Father Divine, one immediately takes steps to do the following:
1. Right any wrongs one did in the past.
2. Pay all one’s indebtedness, start paying as one goes, and be self-supporting.
3. Take care of all one’s responsibilities in providing for any children one might have until they are sixteen or until they graduate from high school.
4. Refrain from using monies for any sort of gambling, smoking, drinking, drugs, un evangelical entertainment or using cosmetics excessively.
After taking these steps, it is not long until the individuals are able to save money, and as it is against their religious conviction to invest in stocks and bonds and also against their religious conviction to hoard money, they contribute, if they wish, to the Peace Mission Cooperative System that purchases property to be used for the advancement of Father Divine’s Work and Mission, thereby putting the money to exchange for the common good of humanity. This is done absolutely volitionally with no soliciting or coercion.
Followers desire to do unto others as has been done unto them by Father Divine. They do not seek honor and glory but want to see others blessed even as they have been. They know Father Divine’s Name, not theirs, is a blessing to the people. Therefore they adhere strictly to the admonition of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. . . .But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” from Matthew 61,3
The followers own the properties. Father Divine dedicated them to magnify the Law of Americanism, Brotherhood, Christianity and true Judaism as synonymous. Because the followers truly wish Father and Mother Divine to be praised and honored, the properties are operated under Their Spiritual Guidance and it appears as though the properties belong to them personally, but the followers are the legal owners. A group of followers holds title to the property with right of survivorship, but if and when it is sold, as many properties have been, the living owners share equally the amount received from the sale. Father and Mother Divine own no properties or securities of any kind. The followers pay real estate and other taxes as levied. The owners have not sought tax exemption on privately owned properties. Properties owned by the Churches and operated solely in the service of the Church and the community are tax exempt.
2. Communal Living
The members or followers live in the Churches or Extensions of the Churches, such as sorority or fraternity homes and hotels. Brothers and sisters are accommodated in separate buildings or on separate floors, and this applies to husbands and wives coming under the jurisdiction of the Peace Mission Movement. Children brought by their parents live with other children under the care of guardians. When they come to responsible age, they make their own decision to remain in the Peace Mission or leave.
There is complete integration. No attention is paid to the so-called race, creed, color or national origin, except to have individuals of different complexions eat, sleep and live together as roommates.
All residents of a Church or building under the jurisdiction of the Church adhere to Father Divine’s International Modest Code, which is:
No smoking, no drinking, no obscenity, no vulgarity, no profanity, no undue mixing of sexes and no receiving of gifts, presents, tips or bribes.
For further explanation of standard Peace Mission policy, see Father Divine’s letter in Chapter 6, concerning gifts and tips.
Followers may work at whatever labor, trade, or profession they choose, and they may do whatever they wish with what they earn or possess. However, they donate for living accommodations, meals, and other services such as laundry, dress-making, tailoring, barber service and transportation.
The privileged ones who operate and maintain all Church properties and Church business and affairs are called co-workers, because they are working together with Father and Mother Divine for the benefit of mankind generally. Neither they nor Father and Mother receive a salary or remuneration; they give their services gratis because they love God and humanity. All of their needs, comforts and conveniences are bountifully supplied by the Church or business.
Followers who have fallen prey to old age and have been true and faithful co-workers are taken care of by the Church as long as possible. The Church does have Personal Care Homes for the aged, but no hospital or convalescent-nursing home, there purposefully being no systematic or practical preparation for old age. The followers are content with their conviction that
“The just shall live by faith,” from Galatians 3:11
“he who puts his trust in GOD shall never be confounded.”
4. Churches of the Peace Mission Movement
In the year 1941 the following were organized Churches incorporated in various states and countries with branches:
The Circle Mission Church, Home and Training School, Incorporated.
The Nazareth Mission Church and Home, Incorporated.
The Unity Mission Church, Home and Training School, Incorporated.
The Peace Center Church and Home, Incorporated.
The Palace Mission, Incorporated.
These Mother Churches were all incorporated in New York in February, 1941, except for the Palace Mission which was incorporated there on March 19, 1940. In foreign countries as in other states of the United States, people in different localities, have embraced the Teaching of Father Divine and desired to unite and form a Church. This has taken place specifically in Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Guyana, Nigeria, Panama and Switzerland. Each Church has a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and Board of Trustees, but the Spiritual head of the Church is Father and Mother Divine. No Church is bound or obligated financially to the headquarters but all the Churches have a common Constitution and By-laws.
No one is ever asked to become a member of any of the Churches; it is a purely voluntary action. There are never membership drives – and no proselyting of any kind. It is not necessary to join a Church to be a follower. No membership rolls are kept; names are recorded only when necessary for business purposes. There are no membership dues.
The Churches are founded on the Old and New Testaments of the King James’ version of the Christian Bible, particularly the Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and more especially in the Sermon on the Mount, found in Chapters five, six and seven of Matthew. The growth of the Church is dependent upon the Holy Spirit and also upon the living, by the members, of the exact Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ which when Personified in any individual or group of individuals is magnetic and will automatically draw new members into the fold.
5. Church Services
Church services are held in the church auditoriums every Sunday throughout the year and also on as many evenings during the week as possible or convenient. They consist of public singing of inspirational hymns and songs as the Spirit moves, scriptural reading from the King James’ version of the Holy Bible, reading of Father Divine’s Words of Spirit and Life, playing of tape recordings from the audio library of Father Divine’s sermons, Mother Divine’s addresses, and church services from foreign countries, sermons by visiting ministers, lectures by other speakers, and volitional testimonies from the congregation.
The services are conducted as in a great spiritual democracy, which is what the churches of the Peace Mission Movement really are. The privilege of free speech and volitional expression is preserved for everyone. Each and every individual can speak according to the dictates of his own conscience as long as he does not infringe on or abridge the rights of others. No collections, donations or love offerings are taken up at Church Services.
6. Holy Communion Services
Holy Communion is the only Sacrament observed by the followers and is performed daily as a ritual in the churches and private homes. Followers believe that every Holy Communion is served by Father and Mother Divine, whether personally or impersonally, and the presence of Father and Mother is always in evidence in the brotherhood, joy and abundance of these services. Followers believe in the serving of communion daily after the manner of the Lord’s Supper, for they believe in the practicality of their spiritual devotion and service unto God and unto man, and the variety of food which is served for the sustenance of the body and the satisfying of every appetite is deemed to be sacred and consecrated to and for the development and improvement of the soul.
In the history of the early Christian Church, it is recorded that Communion was served every day and that Paul appointed deacons to assist with the serving. These Communion services were happy and joyous events in the manner of a love feast or fraternal meal, where everyone rejoiced in the Presence of the Lord. Followers believe that when they receive daily Communion with thanksgiving, they take on more of the spiritual nature and characteristics of the Christ. By so doing, they put off the old man with the Adamic state of consciousness, and arise daily and walk in the newness of life. Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother, fed the four and five thousand as they had need, and spiritually taught them at the same time; and there is record of his serving the Last Supper to his Disciples, which must have been only one of many. Therefore, followers of Father Divine endeavor to do likewise.
Members of other faiths and denominations, by respecting Father Divine’s teaching, may participate in Holy Communion Services if they wish to do so. Though they may not participate wholeheartedly in the convictions of the followers, they may benefit greatly from the beauty and inspiration of the occasion. It was at the Holy Communion Table, during the years of his personal ministry, that Father delivered most of his wonderful sermons, through being inspired during the service. He never spoke from a prepared text.
7. Community Service
The Peace Mission has always served the community through its hotels, cafeterias, food markets, dress shops, barber shops, gas stations, shoe repairing and dry cleaning establishments and such services that provide the necessities of life at lower prices than can be found elsewhere. This is ‘preaching the gospel in dollars and cents’ as Father Divine would say, by giving the best for the least. Therefore, he considered these business places to be more sacred than the Churches. As an iranian student staying at the Divine Tracy Hotel expressed it,
‘This Mission is giving. It is giving in a way that the people who receive it do not know they are receiving – they would be ashamed [if] they knew what they are actually receiving. . . . This is the meaning of the work of God.”
NEW DAY, December 29, 1979, p 15.
Prime testimony to this concern for the people are the five hotels, the two in Philadelphia as well as the three in New Jersey.
(These Hotels, after over 50 years of service each, are no longer under the jurisdiction of the Peace Mission Movement)
These hotels were open to the general public – those who were willing to abide by the rules of conduct, speech and dress which the hotels maintain. These rules are most confining, but are welcomed by those who seek peaceful and quiet resting places and value the Principles of the Peace Mission. Here the ordinary man or woman could find excellent accommodations at costs that are always well below prevailing rates at other hotels.
Hotel guests came from all over the world and for various reasons. They are mainly made up of post-graduate students, foreign and domestic, attending local schools and universities; Church groups and other touring groups that come to the city for conventions; relatives of out-of-town patients being treated at Philadelphia’s distinguished medical facilities; people seeking refuge from the pressures of oppressive circumstances; people who want to avail themselves of the economic advantages, in order to better their lot in life later on; career ladies and gentlemen and people seeking a haven as pilgrims to a large city.
Knowledge of Father Divine had already spread nationally and internationally before the hotels were opened. As guests at these hotels come and go over the years, the benevolence of Father Divine, reincarnated in his followers and extended in a practical way through the divine chain of hotels, is spread further, and is attested by the many who have returned to give thanks and say that had it not been for the blessing of eating and sleeping under the jurisdiction of the Peace Mission, they would not be enjoying their present success and prosperity.
Father Divine has always enjoyed serving Holy Communion as an abundant meal for the benefit of the body as well as food for the spirit and mind, and the public are welcome to partake of it along with his followers. Over the years untold thousands have come to observe the Peace Mission by this means, and large groups of students from universities, colleges and high schools have learned of Father Divine in this way. Thousands of students have come from Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, Trenton State Teachers’ College, the Union Theological Seminary, the University of Delaware, Beaver and Swarthmore Colleges, Friends Work Camps and Burlington Junior High School, to name those who have made regular visits with their professors, as part of their sociology or religious courses.
Peace Mission Churches have been active in encouraging the children of the neighborhood to do well in school by providing after-school classes and sometimes individual tutoring. At the Unity Mission Church in West Philadelphia the young people, specifically teen-age boys, have benefited by the use of the gymnasium, given freely without monetary consideration of any kind, so that they could enjoy their leisure time. The Peace Mission has cooperated with the Police Athletic League (PAL) in providing a recreational program that supported boys who did not want to be members of gangs, or had formerly been members. Together with the American Youth Academy and Camp Wingfoot, their use of the Church gymnasium and auditorium has been without any obligation, financial or otherwise.
The sincere intent of the followers of Father Divine, through the Church activities, is to develop the youth into strong, honest, American citizens. If, through their harmonious contact and participation in Church activities they become followers, it is absolutely of their own volunteer volition.
The Churches and connections, having facilities for group living, automatically provide education in a practical way. This is the main provision for imbibing Father Divine’S teaching. It is in reality a university for learning the highest unfoldment of Truth ever presented to man.
Children and adults attend schools of the community in which they live, to obtain high school diplomas. Everyone is encouraged to be schooled sufficiently to be efficient and practical in their chosen field. The Peace Mission Free Schools provide classes within the Churches also, for study of the Bible and other subjects for which there may be demand and for which there may be instructors desiring to impart their knowledge to others without remuneration. seek a better education, that you might be qualified to pass the literacy test.
9. Groups Within the Movement
1. Rosebuds are the feminine youth group who pattern their lives after the Virginity of Mary and the Holiness of Jesus. They are the official choir and sing during Church services. Their songs are mostly those inspired by Father Divine’s Words, his Work and Mission. They volitionally sing of their sacred love for God, their husband and maker, as well as of their love for America, democracy and brotherhood. Their uniform consists of a red jacket with a white ‘V’ for Virtue and Victory, a blue skirt and white blouse.
2. Crusaders are the brothers who likewise model their lives upon the Virginity of Mary and the Holiness of Jesus, and who have totally embraced Father Divine’s Teaching. They give their time and service in the Church work and activities. They wear a light blue jacket trimmed in black with a symbolic emblem on the breast pocket, and black trousers. They wear a white jacket when they serve as waiters during Holy Communion Services.
3. Lily-buds are those sisters who were redeemed from the mortal, carnal life, and made virtuous as the Rosebuds, through living the CHRIST Life according to the Holiness of Jesus and the Virginity of Mary. Their uniform is a green jacket with the letters ‘H’ ‘V’ meaning Holiness and Virtue, green skirt and white blouse.
All three groups have their own distinctive Creed which each member memorizes. These Creeds set the goals of the group and outline in detail how each member should live. There is a fourth Creed, the Woodmont Creed, which more or less epitomizes the other three as well as the relationship of all the followers to Woodmont.
A Group of Followers of Father Divine Published a Commercial Bi-weekly Tabloid Entitled The New Day.
Update note: The New Day Publishing Company suspended publication and moved their offices in December, 1992 but published a 50th Anniversary commemorative issue is 1996.
From its inception in 1937, Father Divine has contributed gratis his lectures, sermons, interviews, letters of correspondence and informal talks, as well as those of Mother Divine. The paper also contained reports of activities of the Peace Mission Movement here and abroad, local and national news, occasional feature articles, and advertisements. Information concerning the publication known as The Spoken Word may also be procured from this source. Father Divine’s mission has always been service to the people and to this end he dedicated his ministry. That he succeeded is attested by action of the Council of the City of Philadelphia on February 4,1982 A.D. 36 F.D., when it unanimously passed a historic Resolution honoring Father Divine and the Peace Mission Movement for more than fifty years of service to God and the community.
Do you have a church in Australia?
Andrea Kelleher says
I hope you are able to help me. I wanted to know if you know the names of the people listed in the picture above of the grocery store run by followers. The woman who I may be related to, is the African American woman in that particular image. Any information you may know regarding her identity would greatly be appreciated. Thank you in advance for any assistance.