Alma Bridwell White
Founder and bishop of The Pillar of Fire
Alma grew up with eleven siblings in rural Kentucky. Converted as a teenager, she earned a teacher-training certificate, taught in a local school, and then moved to Montana at age nineteen with relatives. In 1887 she married Kent White, a Methodist minister. Kent and Alma set up an independent mission in Denver that evolved, despite Kent’s protests, into a denomination, The Pillar of Fire. Their marriage disintegrated, and they were never reconciled. The denomination spread across the United States and Great Britain. Its headquarters was in the self-sufficient town Alma founded in Zarephath, New Jersey, where residents lived, worked, worshipped, and attended school from elementary age through college. Her commitment to Christian education prompted the establishment of schools in Cincinnati, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Jacksonville, and Denver. In 1918, she became the first woman bishop in the United States. She supported the platform of the National Women’s Rights Party, including the Equal Rights Amendment, and published her feminist teachings in her periodical, Woman’s Chains.