On May 9, 1907, Kathryn Kuhlman was born. She was a well-known American preacher who hosted healing services. Kathryn Johanna Kuhlman was born to German-American parents, Joseph Adolph Kuhlman and Emma Walkenhorst, near Concordia, Missouri.
After a spiritual encounter at the age of 14, she began itinerant preaching in Idaho with her elder sister and brother-in-law. She was afterwards ordained by the Evangelical Church Alliance.
Kuhlman met Burroughs Waltrip, an eight-year-old Texas preacher. Waltrip divorced his wife, abandoned his family, and relocated to Mason City, Iowa, where he founded the Radio Chapel revival center. Kuhlman and her pianist friend Helen Gulliford traveled to town to assist him in raising finances for his ministry. The affair between Burroughs and Kuhlman became public immediately after their arrival.
Burroughs and Kuhlman made the decision to marry. Kuhlman had stated to a group of acquaintances that she could not “find the will of God in the affair.” These and other friends advised her not to proceed with the marriage, but Kuhlman rationalized it to herself and others by assuming that Waltrip’s wife had abandoned him, rather than the other way around.
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On October 18, 1938, in Mason City, she secretly married “Mister,” as she preferred to nickname Waltrip. However, the wedding did not bring her any new serenity about their relationship. The couple did not have any children. Kuhlman stated in a 1952 interview with the Denver Post about her marriage, “He properly accused that I refused to live with him. And it’s been eight years since I’ve seen him.” Burroughs Waltrip divorced her in 1948.
She expressed sorrow for her involvement in the agony caused by Waltrip’s prior marriage’s breakup on several occasions in the years thereafter, naming the children’s heartbreak as particularly disturbing to her. It was her biggest sorrow, she said, second only to the betrayal of her love relationship with Jesus.
Kathryn Kuhlman exuded the Holy Spirit’s power wherever she went. Whether a building was vast or tiny, sinner or saint everyone knew when Miss Kuhlman came because the entire atmosphere appeared to alter.
Her life was devoted to prayer. She prayed constantly while traveling. Miss Kuhlman might be seen “pacing back and forth, head up, head down, arms hurled into the air, hands clasped behind her back with her face covered in tears” before her meetings, according to her employees.
Oral Roberts describes the intensity of her prayers, saying, “It was as if they were conversing back and forth, and you couldn’t distinguish where Kathryn began and the Holy Spirit ended. It was a unity.”
Between the 1940s and 1970s, Kuhlman toured widely throughout the United States and many other countries, staging “healing crusades.” She was one of the world’s most well-known healing pastors. Kuhlman had a weekly TV show called I Believe In Miracles that broadcast nationwide in the 1960s and 1970s.
She also had a 30-minute countrywide radio ministry where she taught from the Bible and regularly played clips from her healing events (both music and message). Her organization was founded in 1954, and its Canadian branch was created in 1970. Late in her life, she became a supporter of the emerging Jesus movement, receiving endorsements from important figures such as David Wilkerson and Chuck Smith.
By 1970, she had relocated to Los Angeles and was doing healing services for thousands of people. She was frequently likened to Aimee Semple MacPherson. Despite having no theological schooling, she became well recognized for her “gift of healing.” She was friends with Christian television pioneer Pat Robertson and appeared on his Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and The 700 Club, the network’s flagship show.
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In 1975, Kuhlman was sued for $430,500 by her personal administrator, Paul Bartholomew, who claimed she kept $1 million in jewels and $1 million in fine art stashed away and sued her for breach of contract. In the case, two former associates accused her of diverting cash and improperly destroying data, which she rejected and claimed were not private. The claim was resolved before to trial, according to Kuhlman.
Many tales of medically proven healings were published in her books, including her autobiography, which was dictated at a hotel in Las Vegas by novelist Jamie Buckingham of Florida. Buckingham also authored his own biography of Kuhlman, which provided an honest portrayal of her life. Over the years, an estimated two million individuals have claimed being cured during her sessions.
Dr. William A. Nolen did a case study of 23 patients who claimed to have been cured during one of her sessions during a 1967 fellowship in Philadelphia. Long-term follow-ups by Nolen revealed that there were no cures in those situations. At Kuhlman’s direction, one lady who was supposed to be healed of spinal cancer threw away her brace and raced across the stage; her spine collapsed the next day, and she died four months later.
Believers were critical of Nolen’s understanding of Kulhman. A physician, Lawrence Althouse, stated that Nolen had only attended one of Kuhlman’s sessions and had not followed up with all of those who claimed to have been treated there.
Dr. Richard Casdorph compiled a volume of evidence in favor of Kuhlman’s miraculous healings. Christian philosophy professor Hendrik van der Breggen argued in favor of the assertions. Craig Keener, the author, said, “Nobody claims that everyone was healed, but it’s tough to deny that substantial healings happened, ostensibly in connection with prayer.
One might attribute these to Kathryn Kuhlman’s or the supplicants’ faith, or to no faith at all, as in parts of Kuhlman’s teaching; yet the evidence shows that some individuals were cured, even in exceptional ways.”
Dr. Richard Owellen, a member of the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s cancer research department who often attended Miss Kuhlman’s sessions, attested to different healings that he said he had researched.
Miss Kuhlman established extraordinary conditions throughout her ministry, as described in Jamie Buckingham’s memoir Daughter of Destiny, where he says that the demands of medical and scientific physical verification were absolute before her ministry was formally accepted. Full examinations and records from before and after, as well as written affirmation from treating doctors, confirming the medical condition(s) did exist and are no longer present.
Despite these unrivaled standards, there are people who, both before and after her death, continue to make baseless assertions about the legitimacy of Kuhlman’s ministry. Millions think she was a modern-day prophet with divine authority. The argument rages on today, with many believers hailing Kuhlman as a predecessor to the modern charismatic movement.
She had an impact on faith healers Benny Hinn and Billy Burke. Hinn used some of her tactics and authored a book on Kuhlman, despite never meeting or speaking with her. Billy Burke, on the other hand, met her and was advised by her since he was miraculously cured in her service as a young lad.
Kuhlman was diagnosed with a cardiac condition in her late 40s in 1955. She had a hectic schedule, frequently flying across the United States and throughout the world for two- to six-hour meetings that concluded late. According to her biography, during the time of her death in the hospital, when she drew her last breath and heartbeat, a dazzling light was seen by all, physicians and nurses, to briefly hover over her lifeless corpse and then depart before their eyes. This event is described in depth in the biography.
“The television ministry alone required almost $30,000 per week… Stopping, even cutting back, would imply she was starting to fail. The same might be said about the miracle services. Instead of holding fewer services as the discomfort in her chest became almost severe, she increased the amount.”
Her doctor diagnosed her with a small cardiac flare-up in July 1975; she relapsed in November. As a result, Kuhlman underwent open-heart surgery in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and died on February 20, 1976. Kathryn Kuhlman was laid to rest at Glendale, California’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, and a plaque in her honor may be found in Concordia, Missouri, a hamlet in central Missouri on Interstate Highway.
Her will sparked debate when she died. She bequeathed the majority of her wealth, $267,500, to three family members and twenty employees. Other employees received smaller bequests. Her staff were dissatisfied, according to the Independent Press-Telegram, since “she did not give the foundation the majority of her wealth as she had done under a prior 1974 will.”
The Kathryn Kuhlman Foundation remained, but owing to a shortage of financing, it ceased countrywide radio broadcasts in 1982. The Foundation eventually closed its doors in April 2016.
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