Alma White 01b

Alma Bridwell White (1862-1946)

Alma Bridwell White (1862-1946) was the founder, and a Bishop, in the Pillar of Fire Church (June 16, 1862 – June 26, 1946)


She was born as Mollie Alma Bridwell on June 16, 1862 in Kinniconick, Lewis County, Kentucky to William Moncure Bridwell (1825-1907) of Virginia; and Mary Ann Harrison (1832-1921) of Kentucky. By 1880 the family was living in Millersburg, Kentucky.

Alma studied at the Millersburg Female College in Millersburg, Kentucky. An aunt invited one of the seven Bridwell sisters to visit Montana Territory, Alma was her last choice. Each of the others was afraid to make the journey, but in 1882, nineteen-year-old Alma took the chance and went to Bannack, Montana. She stayed to teach, first in public school, and later in Salt Lake City's Methodist seminary. In 1887 she married Kent White (1860-1940), who at the time was a Methodist seminarian. They had the following children: Ray Bridwell White; and Arthur Kent White.

Alma and Kent started the Methodist Pentecostal Union Church in Denver, Colorado in December of 1901. She led hymns and prayers and at times preached sermons. In 1907 a follower donated their farm for a community at Zarephath, New Jersey. In 1918, she was consecrated as a bishop by William Godbey. She was now the first woman bishop in the United States.

Time magazine wrote on October 22, 1928:

Aimee Semple McPherson [spoke] ... Worst of all, there came a rival female evangelist from New Jersey, a resolute woman with the mien of an inspired laundress — the Reverend "Bishop" Mrs. Mollie Alma White, founder and primate of the Pillar of Fire Church. Bishop White, who has thousands of disciples ("Holy Jumpers") in the British Isles, clearly regarded Mrs. McPherson as a poacher upon her preserves or worse. Squired by two male Deacons, the Reverend Bishop sat herself down in a box at Albert Hall, with an air of purposing to break up the revival. The dread potency of Bishop White, when aroused against another female, may be judged from her scathing criticisms of the Church of Mary Baker Eddy: "The teachings of the so-called Christian Science Church ... have drawn multitudes from the orthodox faith, and blasted their hopes of heaven! ... A person who is thus in the grip of Satanic power is unable to extricate himself ... [and is] left in utter spiritual desolation." Well might buxom Aimee McPherson have quailed as she faced 2,000 tepid Britons, over 8,000 empty seats, the two Deacons and "Bishop" Mrs. White.

In 1927, a transmitter and radio equipment were installed at Belleview College in Westminster, Colorado to promote the college based in the Westminster Castle. By June of 1929, the call letters had been changed to KPOF and the station was broadcasting regular sermons from Alma Temple, the Pillar's Denver Church. In March of 1931, WBNY was sold to Bishop Alma White and the Pillar of Fire Church for $5,000. The call letters were changed to WAWZ. In its initial broadcast, Alma White told listeners, "The station belongs to all regardless of your affiliation."

She died on June 26, 1946 in Zarephath, New Jersey.


  • 1862 Birth of Alma White as "Mollie Alma Bridwell" in Kinniconick, Kentucky on June 16th
  • 1870 1870 US Census in Elkfork, Lewis County, Kentucky
  • 1880 1880 US Census in Millersburg, Kentucky
  • 1887 Marriage to Kent White
  • 1896 Church established in Denver, Colorado
  • 1900 1900 US Census in Denver, Colorado
  • 1901 Methodist Pentecostal Union Church in Denver, Colorado in December
  • 1902 Ordained an Elder
  • 1904 "Pentecostal Union Herald" changed to "Pillar of Fire"
  • 1905 (circa) Separates from Methodist Episcopal Church
  • 1907 Creation of community at Zarephath, New Jersey
  • 1909 Separates from husband after he converts to Pentecostalism
  • 1917 Name of church officially changed to "Pillar of Fire"
  • 1917 Alma White College founded in Zarephath, New Jersey
  • 1918 Ordained as first woman bishop in the United States
  • 1920 Acquires Westminster, Colorado property and opens Westminster University
  • 1920 1920 US Census in Franklin Township, Somerset County, New Jersey
  • 1924 Publishes Woman's Chains, which is in print until 1970
  • 1927 KPOF radio station in Westminster, Colorado
  • 1931 WAWZ radio station in Zarephath, New Jersey
  • 1932 Church established in Morrison, Colorado
  • 1946 Death of Alma White on June 27th
  • 1946 Death of Ray Bridwell White on November 5th


  • Demons and Tongues (1910)
  • The New Testament Church (1911–1912) in two volumes
  • Truth Stranger Than Fiction (1913)
  • The Titanic Tragedy: God Speaking to Nations (1913)
  • Restoration of Israel, the Hope of the World (1917)
  • The Story of My Life (1919–1930) in five volumes
  • The Ku Klux Klan in Prophecy (1925)
  • Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty (1926)
  • Heroes of the Fiery Cross (1928)
  • Hymns and Poems (1931)
  • The Sword of the Spirit (1937)
  • Why I Do Not Eat Meat (1938)