🠈  Pillar of Fire  🠊

Pillar of Fire

Pillar Ministries is a Prostant Church with a somewhat problematic path.

Several biographies trace the origins of the church to Alma Bridwell (1862 – 1946) who, at age 16, attended a camp meeting by William Baxter Godbey in 1878. Godbey was an advocate of the Holiness Movement within the Wesleyan Methodist Church.

Alma was so moved that decided to seek a religious life only to discover that the Methodist movement was not keen on women priests.

Alma met Kent White while studying at a Methodist Seminary in Salt Lake City. Ken and Alma married in 1887.

The couple moved to Denver. They established a church in 1896 which was dedicated at the Methodist Pentecostal Union Church led by Ken and with Alma elevated to elder in 1902.

The company changed the name of its publication Pillar of Fire.

The congregation had disputes with the Methodist Church which including arguments over the role of Women. In 1905 the church separated from the the Methodist Episcopal Church.

In 1907, the group established a community in Somerset County, New Jersey near Princeton named Zarephath.

Alma White and Ken separated in 1909. Ken White joined the pentecostal movement.

In an effort to distance itself from the Pentecostal Movement, the church rebranded as Pillar of Fire in 1917. The church established Alma White College in Zarephath, NJ (closed in 1978).

William Godbey ordained Alma as bishop in 1918. She was the first woman to hold the position of Bishop in the Methodist church.

Pillar of Fire acquired the "Westminster Castle" from the defunk Westminster University in Denver for $40,000 in 1920. The abandonned building required $75,000 in repairs which they rebranded as Belleview College and Preparatory School in 1925.

Alma White had established herself as a staunch leader of the feminist movement with the 1924 publication of Woman's Chains.

Surprisingly, the church also became a staunch advocate of the The Ku Klux Klan. Alma held to a discredited idea called the "Curse of Ham" popularized by Brigham Young which claims that people with dark skin are descendent of the Biblical figure Ham. As such people with dark skin are meant to be serants.

Alma published The Ku Klux Klan in Prophecy in 1925. Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty in 1926 and Heroes of the Fiery Cross in 1928.

The Ministry established KPOF Denver in 1928 and WAWZ radio station in Zarephath in 1931.

The church had 46 congregations and 4000 adherents by 1936.

Alma disavowed in her later life. The ministry soon followed.

Oddly, the ministry's largest churches are in Liberia Africa. So despite its racist past, the Pillar of Fire Ministry is now a majority black ministry.

The video by the Youtube Channel "Ready to Harvest" provides a history of this congregation:

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  1. Wikipedia - Pillar of Fire (Drawn 4/9/2023)

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