Meet Kathryn Kuhlman

There are those that loved her; those that couldn’t get beyond her theatrical mannerisms, drawn-out speech, and expensive tastes; and those not sure if she was “for real.” And yet she remains the world’s most widely known female evangelist.

Kathryn Kuhlman was born in 1907, in Concordia, Missouri. Converted in 1921 at a Methodist revival meeting, she left home two years later to travel with her sister and brother-in-law, holding gospel tent meetings in the Northwest and Midwest. She stayed with them until she was 21 and set out on her own as a preacher.

In 1933, she settled in Denver and opened the Denver Revival Tabernacle. In 1937, Kuhlman met—and later married—evangelist Burroughs Waltrip, an alliance which caused the downfall of both their ministries. Waltrip had left his family in Texas for Kuhlman, and his wife divorced him. No matter where he and Kuhlman traveled, news of their past got there before they did. She left him in 1944, and he divorced her in 1948.

Kuhlman finally found a safe haven from gossip, a hungry people to feed the gospel, and a new dimension to her ministry, in Franklin, Pennsylvania. Kuhlman had been strictly an evangelist up until then, limiting her preaching to the salvation message. In 1946, she preached her first series on the Holy Spirit—and a woman was healed of a tumor while listening. The second phase of Kathryn Kuhlman’s ministry had begun!

In 1948, she moved to Pittsburgh, her headquarters for the rest of her life. She held her famous “miracle services” in that city’s Carnegie Hall for 20 years, regularly filling the great auditorium. Her radio and television shows were heard all over the world. In1965, Kuhlman extended her ministry to California, filling the 7,000-seat Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles to capacity for 10 years.

The miracle services were characterized by congregational and choir singing; a message on the need to be “born again,” the power of the Holy Spirit, or healing; and a time when individuals could come forward to describe their own healing or ask for prayer. Often during the service, Kuhlman would call out the specific disorder that was being cured in a certain area of the auditorium, and the healing would be received by the appropriate individual. As she prayed for and laid hands on individuals, they would be “slain in the spirit.” One of her associates would catch them as they fell to the floor, and the service would continue around them.

Kuhlman never claimed she did the healing, but attributed it to God alone. The only gift she claimed for herself was that of “faith” or “the word of knowledge,” always referring to herself as an evangelist, never a faith healer.

Records of these modern-day “miracles and manifestations” and testimonies of those touched and healed can be found in Kuhlman’s books God Can Do It Again, Nothing Is Impossible with God, and I Believe in Miracles. She tells her own story in A Glimpse into Glory and Daughter of Destiny. Kathryn Kuhlman died on February 20, 1976, in Tulsa, following open heart surgery.

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