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First/Given Name(s):


BAKER George
Male 1879 - 1965

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  • Birth  Abt 1879  Rockville, Maryland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Male 
    Also Known As  Reverend 
    Name  Major J. Devine 
    Nationality  African-American 
    Residence  Between 1919 and 1932  Sayville, Long Island, New York Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Residence  Between 1933 and 1945  Harlem, New York City, New York Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Residence  Abt 1945  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died  10 Sep 1965  Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I36525  Brasfield-Brassfield Genealogies
    Last Modified  17 Feb 2015 
    Family 1  UNKNOWN Penny,   b. Abt 1879,   d. Abt 1943 
    Married  Abt 1900 
    Family ID  F11701  Group Sheet
    Family 2  RITCHINGS Edna Rose,   b. Abt 1910, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  Abt 1946 
    Family ID  F11702  Group Sheet
  • Notes 
    • Vendovi Island (San Juans) - According to LeWarne, two followers of FATHER DIVINE, Henry Joerns and Ross Humble, obtained a permit for the use of Vendovi as a Peace Mission extension in the early thirties. By 1930, New Thought groups had sprung up on the Pacific coast. The dynamic, Canadian-born evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson, had established her 5000-seat Angelus Temple in Los Angeles in 1923. In this climate, there were many lesser known practitioners of the new Gospel of JESUS CHRIST on the west coast, one of whom was Henry Joerns, of the Absolute Science Center, who held classes and sermonized on metaphysics.
      Father Devine (c.1875-1965), American Negro religious cult leader. He was born George Baker near Savannah, Ga., and began preaching in the South about 1900. About 1915 he moved to New York, where he founded his Peace Mission Movement and later adopted the name Father Devine.

      The movement's salient features included: (1) the worship of Devine as God incarnate; (2) communal living--through cooperative labor without pay and the surrender of their possessions, members enabled Devine to provide them with food and shelter at little cost, thus strengthening their faith in his miraculous powers; (3) vows of the strictest morality, celibacy, and charity--members were enjoined to make restitution for past sins, and remarkable acts of pennance were reported; and (4) the observance of racial equality.

      The movement's first communal dwelling, or "Heaven," was in Sayville, NY. Although Devine was forced to move to the Harlem section of New York and later to Philadelphia, his movement grew rapidly. At it's height there were 178 "Heavens," most of them in New York City and Philadelphia. There are no figures on the membership, but it probably ran into the tens of thousands. It subsequently declined, especially after Devine's death--which was a great disillusionment to his followers--in Lower Merion Township, PA., on Sept. 10, 1965.

      Harry V. Richardson
      Interdenominational Theological Center