Kuhlman, Kathryn

Kuhlman, Kathryn (1907–1976)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In the early 1970s, as the Charismatic movement emerged in North America, few in the new Charismatic community could draw a crowd like Kathryn Kuhlman. Her own rising career as a healing evangelist merged with that of the movement in which she found a home. Kuhlman had been born in Concordia, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, on May 7, 1907. Even in her childhood years she expressed a desire to become a minister, and at the age of fifteen she dropped out of school and began preaching. Prejudice against female preachers was almost universal, and she could not find a church to ordain her or license her evangelical work. She preached in those churches that would hear her. After more than twenty years as an independent minister, Kuhlman was preaching in Franklin, Pennsylvania in 1946 when a woman stood up in the service and claimed that she had been healed. In the next years, Kuhlman centered her work in Pittsburgh, where she preached regularly at the Carnegie Auditorium.

As the number of healings increased, Kuhlman and her audiences began to experience two very different realities. Those who attended her services would listen to her sermons and then sit through a time in which Kuhlman would call out people seemingly at random in the audience and pronounce them cured of various ailments. Kuhlman herself would, as her sermon proceeded, experience a radical shift of consciousness that would separate from her body and seem to float above the audience. Meanwhile, another consciousness would take over her body and direct the healing service. She did little study of what was happening to her, feeling that if she came to understand it, the healings would go away.

Kuhlman’s rise from obscurity began in 1962 after her first book, I Believe in Miracles, appeared. Journalist Allen Spraggett then penned a very sympathetic biography in 1971. Through the 1970s she regularly spoke to large audiences around the United States, and through the mid- 1970s she had a television show that featured people who had been healed in her meetings.

At the height of her fame, a physician named William Nolen included Kuhlman in his study of contemporary healers, and he attacked the validity of many of their claims. Among cases he investigated, he discovered people whose condition before their healing could not be documented and others who had subsequently passed away from the disease from which they had supposedly been cured. Nolen’s book came out in 1975. Unfortunately, Kuhlman herself died the next year of heart disease. She continued to be remembered kindly in Charismatic circles. One of her associates, Benny Hinns, has continued her healing ministry.

Sources:

Kuhlman, Kathryn. God Can Do It Again. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1969.
______. I Believe in Miracles. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962.
______. Nothing Is Impossible with God. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1974.
Nolen, William. Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle. New York: Random House, 1975.
Spraggett, Allen. Kathryn Kuhlman: The Woman Who Believes in Miracles. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1970.
Warner, Wayne. Kathryn Kuhlman: The Woman Behind the Miracles. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1993.

Kuhlman, Kathryn (1907–1976)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Kathryn Kuhlman was born in Concordia, Missouri, on May 9, 1907. Her German father, Joseph Adolph Kuhlman, was a Baptist and her mother, Emma Walkenhorst Kuhlman, a Methodist. Kathryn went to a Baptist seminary. At the age of thirteen, she had “a religious experience” and felt drawn to the ministry. Two years later she dropped out of school and started preaching as an itinerant evangelist. She traveled throughout the Midwest states with her sister Myrtle and brother-in-law Everett Parrott. After a year of this, Kuhlman attended the Simpson Bible School in Seattle for two years. At twenty-one, she went out on her own to preach. She became well known in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado.

In 1933, Kuhlman settled in Colorado and opened her own church in an old Montgomery Ward warehouse. She named it the Denver Revival Tabernacle. She had made a name for herself by then and many well known evangelists, including Burroughs Waltrip Sr., came to visit and preach at her church. Waltrip became enamored of Kuhlman and subsequently deserted his wife and two young sons in order to pursue her. They married in 1938 and she left him in 1944.

In 1946, she moved to Franklin, Pennsylvania, to try to escape the gossip about her failed marriage. While preaching in Franklin in 1946, she did her first healing, curing a woman of a tumor. The healing came as a surprise to Kuhlman. From then on, she decided to focus her ministry on psychic healing. From 1947 on, Kuhlman held regular healing services in the Carnegie Auditorium in Pittsburgh. A large number of cases of spontaneous healing were reported there over the next twenty years. At her services, after an organ prelude she would appear on stage in a long white or blue robe and would begin to speak. She spoke sincerely but very emotionally until she became transformed by what was termed the “Holy Spirit.” At this point she would become clairvoyant and see who in the congregation was suffering from disease. She would then describe the disease being cured and ask the person to come to the stage. When they did so, she would pass her hands over them and they would fall backward (caught by assistants) to lie seemingly unconscious for several minutes. On standing up they would claim to feel wonderful. People from all over the world came to her services; the hall was always full. In 1967, Kuhlman transferred to the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Pittsburgh.

Kuhlman appeared regularly on radio and television, being a guest on talk shows such as Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, Johnny Carson, and Mike Douglas. On the latter show she was confronted by Dr. William Nolen who had been studying her healings. He claimed she was “medically ignorant,” and although he claimed he believed her to be a “good person,” he felt that her powers did not come from God. On the same show, Dr. H. Richard Casdorph refuted Nolen’s charges. Kuhlman continued to heal for vast crowds of believers and supporters.

Kathryn Kuhlman died in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on February 20, 1976, following open heart surgery. She was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California, where her tombstone says: “I believe in miracles, because I believe in God.”

Sources:

Fodor, Nandor: Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. London: Arthurs Press, 1933
Kathryn Kuhlman Biography and Links: http://nyny.essortment.com/kathrynkuhlman_rfbt.htm
Kuhlman, Kathryn: I Believe in Miracles. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1962
Spraggett, Allen: Kathryn Kuhlman: The Woman Who Believes in Miracles. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1970
Kundalini see Chakras