Kathryn Kuhlman was born on May 9, 1907 in Concord, Missouri (USA), to German parents, Joseph Adolph and Emma Walkenhorst Kuhlman. She was born into a family of four children: Myrtle, Earl, Kathryn and Geneva. Kuhlman was converted in 1921 at a Methodist church revival meeting led by a Baptist evangelist, Reverend Hummel.

In 1923, Kuhlman completed the tenth grade, which was the end of the public school system at Concord. His sister, Myrtle, married a missionary evangelist, Everette B. Parrott, a former student of Moody Bible Institute. Myrtle urged their parents to allow Kathryn to spend the summer with them, which they reluctantly accepted.

That summer, the Parrott’s itinerary took them as far as Oregon, and Kathryn Kuhlman attended revival meetings several times as a witness.

At the end of the summer, the Parrott’s allowed her to stay with them after they tried to send her back to Concord, and Reverend Parrott promised her that she would preach occasionally, a promise he never kept.

For five years, Kathryn Kuhlman lived with the Parrott’s. During this time, the Parrott’s were influenced by Dr. Price, a Canadian evangelist who taught Parrott about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. As a result, a healing ministry was carried out in the meetings.

In 1928, Kathryn Kuhlman’s first opportunity to preach came when Everette Parrott was unable to travel to Boise, Idaho, with the team for a series of meetings. The team at that time consisted of the Parrott couple, Kathryn Kuhlman and a pianist, Helen Gulliford. At first, Mrs. Parrott was asked to replace her husband in the preaching, but had to join her husband a little later.

At the insistence of a pastor of a small church in Boise, K. Kuhlman and H. Gulliford decided to stay on and get to work themselves. K. Kuhlmann took over the preaching and H. Gulliford the music. For the next nine years, they traveled to Idaho and then to other parts of the country. In 1933, K. Kuhlman and H. Gulliford traveled to Pueblo, Colorado, where they held meetings in a Montgomery Ward warehouse for six months. At the request of a businessman, K. Kuhlman traveled to Denver and began holding meetings at another Montgomery Ward depot in the city.

Soon after, the team went to the Monitor Paper Company warehouse, which they later dubbed the “Revival Tabernacle.

K. K. Kuhlman enlisted the help of three sisters, Mildred, Lucille and Biney Anderson, the ‘Anderson Trio’, for the music portion of his ministry. In 1935, the team moved to an abandoned truck garage, which they named the Denver Revival Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle’s programs grew with K. Kuhlmann’s ministry in Denver. They included a Sunday school and a women’s group. K. Kuhlman also began a radio program on station KVOD called “Smile All the Way.

K. Kuhlman shared her ministry in Denver with several visiting evangelists. She met evangelist Phil Keer, who among other topics preached on divine healing; his influence on Kuhlman would grow in the future.

In 1937, K. Kuhlman met evangelist Burroughs A. Waltrip, who was invited to preach at the Denver Tabernacle. Waltrip and K. Kuhlman first formed a professional alliance that later led to their marriage. This also led to the deterioration of Katyn’s ministry in Denver and Waltrip’s ministry in Mason City, Iowa.

The central problem was that Waltrip had left his children and wife in Texas and she decided to divorce him shortly thereafter.

H. Gulliford left his position as a result, and Kuhlmann’s replacement and manager, speaking on behalf of the congregation, told K. Kuhlman that she would no longer be welcome in Denver.

Despite the advice of her friends in the congregation, K. Kuhlman and Waltrip were married in 1938.

Some time later, they moved to Radio Chapel in Mason City, where news of Waltrip’s divorce had not yet spread. His friends in Mason City eventually learned of his divorce and moved away from his ministry. So he and Kuhlman left Mason City and traveled across the country, although their ministry was facing an inevitable halt, as their past could not be hidden any longer. After six years of marriage, Kuhlman finally left Waltrip in 1944, and in 1948 Waltrip obtained a divorce.

The first place Kuhlman went after her separation was to Franklin, Pennsylvania, where she held several meetings.

Rumors about her and Waltrip continued to follow her, making it difficult to hold meetings each time.

After the separation, however, Kuhlman worked to rebuild her ministry of the Word. The turning point came in 1946 when Kuhlman was invited by Matthew J. Maloney to lead a series of meetings.

After a favorable response, Kuhlman began preaching on the radio on stations WKRZ in the Oil City, Pennsylvania, area.

After a few months, his program was added to WPGH, a Pittsburgh station. Around 1948, Kuhlman began meetings in nearby cities, including Pittsburgh itself.

At the beginning of her ministry, Kuhlman was only an evangelist and limited her preaching to the message of salvation.

In Franklin, she preached a few times on healing and made calls not only for people to engage with Jesus Christ, but also to be healed.

Surprised by the healings that sometimes took place, Kuhlman began to investigate these manifestations of God’s power in depth.

In 1947, she preached her first messages about the Holy Spirit. At the first meeting, a woman was healed of a tumor while listening to her preaching. Later, a man was also healed in the same way. These events marked the beginning of Kuhlman’s healing ministry.

Kuhlman had to leave the Gospel Tabernacle because of a contract issue and was temporarily using an old skating rink near Sugar Creek, which became the “Temple of Faith. Kuhlman remained loyal to the city of Franklin; she declined the offer to move to Pittsburgh, and continued to hold meetings in the “Temple of Faith” until the roof collapsed in a heavy snowstorm.

That’s when Kuhlman moved her ministry to Pittsburgh. She had visited Pittsburgh once before, preaching for six weeks in 1943. This time she met Maggie Hartner, who later became her secretary and close friend. Under Hartner’s influence, Kuhlman decided to hold a series of meetings in 1948 at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh. The meetings were very successful, and upon returning to Franklin, the ministry moved forward. Her radio programs were broadcast to other areas, and she began other meetings in nearby towns, as well as in Youngstown, Ohio. Hartner continued to encourage Kuhlmann to locate her ministry in Pittsburgh, which she finally did in late 1950, after the Temple of Faith disaster. She set up her office at Carlton House and held regular meetings at the Carnegie until 1971.

Although she was strongly encouraged to go to Pittsburgh, although she received favorable press and had a blessed ministry here, she was not welcome by many.

Local pastors accused her of removing members from their congregations. The accusations did not hurt her, thanks in part to the support she received from the town’s mayor. However, other conflicts arose. Kuhlman was invited by Rex Humbard to his home in Akron, Ohio, for a series of meetings. Kuhlman accepted and unknowingly entered the territory of the fundamentalist pastor, Dallas Billington, who led Kuhlman into a lengthy dispute over healings in his meetings and the fact that a woman was ministering (Kuhlman was later recognized in 1968 by the Alliance of the Evangelical Church).

This dispute even included an offer of $5,000 to anyone who could prove that he could heal through prayer; Kuhlman’s marriage to a divorced evangelist also came up for discussion.

In 1965, Kuhlman expanded her ministry to California with a series of meetings in Pasadena. She held meetings in the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles until 1975.

In 1973, Kuhlman held her first meeting in Canada, in Ottawa. Maudie Philips was in charge of the organization; she had come all the way to Pittsburgh to attend Kuhlman meetings since 1969. In 1970, Maudie assisted in setting up the Canadian branch of the Kathryn Kuhlman Foundation. This branch was set up to meet the expectations of Kathryn Kuhlman’s ever-growing audience.

After the 1973 meeting, Mr. Philips’ skills in organizing such events were used for Kuhlman meetings in many cities in the United States.

Gradually, Kuhlman put together a staff to assist him. Jimmy Miller, who accompanied her on piano, and Charles Beebee, on organ, had been with her since her early days in Pittsburgh. Arthur Metcalfe became choir director in 1952 and remained so until his death in 1975. Jimmie MacDonald, a vocal leader, and Dina Kartsonakis, a young keyboard artist, were also on her musical staff, and both worked in Kuhlman’s television broadcasts and meetings.

As for the management of the ministry, Walter Adamach was its accountant and was a valuable instrument in the formation of the Kathryn Kuhlman Foundation. Gene Martin was responsible for the Foundation’s overseas missions. Jamie Buckingham oversaw the publication of books. Kuhlman added Kartsonakis’ brother-in-law Bartholomew to his staff as a distributor for television programs and as a personal administrator.

Steve Zelenko became his radio sound engineer, and Bill Martin was his announcer.

Kuhlman’s meetings consisted of the choir and congregational singing, followed by a message about the need to be “born again,” the power of the Holy Spirit or healing, and then a time when people testified about their healings or asked to be prayed for.

As Kuhlman prayed for them and laid his hands on them, they could be “immersed in the Spirit” or be “empowered” by the Spirit, an experience Kuhlman linked directly to Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus. One of Kuhlman’s assistants would pick them up as they fell to the ground, and the meeting would continue. Kuhlman never claimed that these healings came from herself, but always attributed the healings to God alone.

Kuhlman’s healing ministry and her association with certain charismatic leaders made her a leader in the charismatic movement. Her activities also included regular attendance at meetings of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Group, and running a charismatic clinic in Melodyland, a charismatic center in California.

While she encouraged people to seek the gifts of the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, she remained quiet about her career and personal experience.

Kathryn Kuhlman’s fame grew with her ministry, both because of the healings that took place and because of the attention she received from the media.

To extend the reach of her ministry, in 1965 she began broadcasting on CBS with Dick Ross, her producer. She was featured in several media outlets, including People, Christianity Today and Time. Then she participated in interviews with Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore.

She also had the opportunity to meet celebrities from both the artistic and religious communities, such as Pope Paul VI in 1972.

As in the past, media opinion was not always favorable to Kuhlman. In 1974, for example, a doctor, William Nolen, wrote a book in which he questioned the healings that had occurred in Kuhlman’s meetings, and described Kuhlman as ‘medically ignorant’. But she had no shortage of support in this debate: H. Richard Casdorph, another physician who was sympathetic to Kuhlman and her ministry, met with Nolen on the Mike Douglas show to dismiss these accusations.

While Kuhlman gained greater fame through television, she was reluctant to allow her meetings to be recorded, and allowed it on only four occasions: at the Melodyland Charismatic Convention, at the two world conferences in 1974 and 1975 on the Holy Spirit, and at a meeting in Las Vegas.

Although primarily recognized for her healing ministry, she was also honored for her work in Pittsburgh (25th anniversary) with a commemorative medallion, designed by Evangelos Frudakis.

In 1972 she was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Oral Roberts University; then she was named an honorary member of the International Full Gospel Businessmen’s Group, an award given in Los Angeles, and was listed in the Who’s Who of California, then America.

Kuhlman’s health problems (heart problems) were first diagnosed in 1955, but became more severe in the last years of his life. The strain of a busy schedule, especially in 1970 when she had to travel to cities other than Los Angeles and Pittsburgh for meetings, contributed to her health problems.

She also continued her television ministry and visited the institutions supported by the Foundation.

She also endured the strain of personal problems with Kartsonakis and Bartholomew.

Lawsuits were filed and both men were fired in 1975. Kuhlman’s health declined dramatically in 1975. She was hospitalized in Tulsa during the summer and in Los Angeles late that year.

Kuhlman died on February 20, 1976 in Tulsa after open heart surgery.

Her death was not without turmoil, due to the fact that she was famous and had left a rewritten will to Dana Barton ‘Tink’ and Sue Wilkerson; the Wilksons had known Kuhlman since 1972, but had become close companions in early 1975 and remained so until her death.

After many years of ministry activity, Kathryn Kuhlman established the Foundation in 1957, with headquarters in the Carlton House in Pittsburgh.

The Canadian branch of the Foundation was established in 1970. The Foundation was responsible for the administration of Kuhlman’s ministry in all matters relating to its organization. In addition to coordinating his meetings and television programs, the Foundation also provided financial support for various projects around the world. The Foundation continued to operate after Kuhlman’s death, managing the dissemination of his messages and responding to requests from his audience.

In 1982, the Foundation discontinued the radio broadcast of the messages across the country.

Thanks to Wheaton College and the Billy Graham Center Archives for this biography.

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