HELLO GEORGIA A spark of the divine
On November 15, 1933, George Baker, a short, sturdy looking black man, appeared before the Supreme Court Justice Lewis J. Smith in Mineola, Long Island. He was charged with being a public nuisance.
The Judge offered no mercy to this rugged, motionless and dauntless darkskinned prisoner, who stood with his eyes fixed on the accuser like laser beams.
Despite an appeal for leniency, the judge surveyed the reams of testimony of the long, boisterous trial, and sentenced Baker to a $500 fine and one year in jail.
Baker had no problem paying the fine, since he had $7,000 with him at the trial. Facing twelve months behind bars was something he was not ready to endure; nor did he have to endure it.
One of his associates, who had lived with him and a host of others in a communal lifestyle at 72 Macon Street in a two-story frame house in the all-white community of Sayville, Long Island, New York, spoke in an undertone a few cutting words:
“That judge can’t live long now. He’s offended Almighty God.”
Soon came shocking news in the community: Exactly three days after the weird prophecy was made, the judge, only 50 years old, with no apparent health problems, died suddenly of heart failure
From his jail cell, Baker was heard to say, “I hated to do it!”
What’s more, his conviction was overturned by a higher court, and George Baker, alias Major J. Devine, was set free.
News of the judge’s death and Baker’s release from jail, sparked a swelling, thunderous movement which proclaimed this militant reformer as “God Incarnate,” and popularly known as Father Divine
Who was this strange, wiry man who was called “God?.”
He was a black religious leader of millions, who, in the later 1920s and 1930s helped feed and clothe thousands of poverty-stricken, underprivileged blacks, whites, Asians and others in Harlem and elsewhere in New York and Pennsylvania.
George Baker was born around 1880, on a rice plantation on Hutchinson Island, on the Savannah River in Georgia. His parents were sharecroppers. He was given the name of George Baker, and worked with his many brothers and sisters in the cotton fields.
When George turned 19, he left Georgia for Baltimore, Maryland. There he met a black preacher, the Rev. St. John the Divine Hickerson, pastor of a Baptist church. Baker became faithful in attendance.
During a “revival meeting” at the church, another preacher, a mulatto mystic, named Samuel Morris, who taught that every believer, being the “temple of God”, was, in fact, God.
This theological concept gave Baker the absolute conviction that he was God, and he too became an evangelist on a three-man team along with Hickerson and Morris, who were proud to introduce Baker as “God in the Sonship Degree.”