Edna Rose Ritchings
Later known as Sweet Angel, Mrs. S. A. Divine or Mother Divine, was the symbolic maintainer of the International Peace Mission, a religious movement started by Father Divine (c.1876-1965), an African American, who claimed to be God. A Vancouver, Canadian convert, she first was drawn to the movement while still in high school. Moving to the then-headquarters of the movement in PA; she became one of Father Divine's personal secretaries. She proposed to him one day in the office by saying, "I want to marry you because I know you are God." She became his second wife in a secret wedding on April 29, 1946. Ritchings was 21, and Father Divine about 65.
1953, she and her husband lived at Woodmont manor home and estate in PA, which doubled as a Peace Mission headquarters and church. Father Divine died in 1965. Mother Divine fought an attempt by Jim Jones, the head of Peoples Temple, to take over the movement in 1971. Jones based some of his doctrines on the International Peace Mission movement, and claimed to be the reincarnation of Father Divine. Converts to the Peoples Temple wrote Mother Divine trying to convince her that Jones was Father Divine until the mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978.
As of 2015 there were a total of 19 members remaining, all of whom live together on the Woodmont estate near PA. Mother Divine died on March 4, 2017 at 91. [cited Wikipedia]
Teachings and beliefs
The teachings of the movement are based on the following principles:
Father Divine is God
"Heaven" is a state of consciousness
Unity of the world's religions
Children shall be raised by assigned guardians
Use of the USA flag and the English language worldwide
Prohibition of smoking, drinking of alcoholic beverages, obscenity and receiving of gifts
Communal ownership of property and donation of goods and services
Would you believe?
International Peace Mission Movement
THE FATHER DIVINE PROJECT
An American story of race, religion and intentional communal living.
By Matt Novak
May 15, 2017
The New York Times
March 14, 2017