Gehman, Rev. Beatrice Anne
Gehman, Rev. Beatrice Anne(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Beatrice Anne Gehman was born into a family of Amish Mennonites in Petoskey, Michigan. She was the seventh child in the family. She described her parents as religious people who were very spiritual and of a “psychic temperament.” Gehman was the youngest medium ever certified by the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, having begun her platform work at the age of fifteen. At seventeen she was demonstrating at Lily Dale Assembly, New York. Speaking of her gifts, she said, “I came by it naturally … but I don’t think [my parents] understood much about it until late in their lives … I can’t remember a time when I didn’t hear voices or have visions and see auras. It was just something that was very natural to me.”
Gehman exhibited physical mediumship at the age of eleven. She said, “I do remember at times I had a lot of physical phenomena that occurred around me. We would sit down to the dinner table, and the end of the table would lift up and the silverware would move around. I remember my father praying for me, his huge hands pouncing down on top of my head and his prayer to remove this horrible affliction that I had.” Some years later—after her sister died—she experienced a full materialization of her sister in the center of her sitting room. From high school, Gehman had gone to nursing school and, after graduating, continued further studies in X-ray and laboratory work. But as she said, “I never used any of it and never wanted to.”
At fifteen, at a time of depression after leaving home, she attempted to end her life by taking an overdose of sleeping pills, but was saved by spirit and guided to a meeting with medium Wilbur Hull. She was led there by the spirit of a medium named Rose, who had originally been Hull’s teacher. Hull guided her and taught her the fundamentals of Spiritualism. She met him at Cassadaga, the Spiritualist community in Florida.
For some years Gehman lived in Orlando, Florida. She had her own church there and headed the Spiritual Research Society, where she taught classes and workshops and conducted four or five public services a week. At that time she was the wife of investment banker Robert Robeson. They had a daughter, Rhonda.
In 1980, Gehman moved to Springfield, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. There she and her present husband, Wayne Knoll, founded the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment (CSE), of which she is pastor. The charter from the National Spiritualist Association of Churches was issued in 1988. In 2003, CSE purchased a historic building that formerly housed the First Congregational Church. Today the CSE is a thriving organization with members throughout North America. It offers weekly services and a wide variety of workshops and other programs.
Gehman is a trance medium and also occasionally does red-light transfiguration. She spends her summer months at Lily Dale, where she teaches workshops on Spiritualism and mediumship. She characterizes her work as being about “love … and service. I think it has to be based on love.”