*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 9th of December 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org; I’m Dan van Voorhis.
I have a confession to make- I have always felt a pull towards the lives of obscure Medieval Saints and 20th-century itinerant Pentecostal preachers. Maybe it’s akin to collectors who have their favorite rare oddities- something remarkable and exotic- possibly lesser-known, perhaps of foreign origins.
And as a historian of the Christian church, I find parallels in these two groups- primarily when it comes to what I believe is the 3rd most used word on this show: hagiography. That is, writing about the saint’s lives. Or perhaps we could understand it as the writing about ordinary people as if they were saints. Or magic, even. And lest I seem to mock people for gravitating to spectacular- possibly, slightly fabricated stories about people they admire- I will tell you that I will be first in line to see the Kurt Warner biopic this Christmas starring Zachary Levi.
So this brings us to a fascinating character about whom we know very little- but between her context and a few hagiographies, we can start to piece together the story of Lilian B. Yeomans.
Lilian was born in 1861 in Ontario, Canada, to Augustus and Amelia Yeomans. The Yeomans moved to the United States in the 1860s, where Augustus would serve as a medic for the Union Army. Augustus returned to Canada in the 1870s and died in 1880. His wife and daughter Lilian decided to carry on in medicine, but Canadian colleges did not yet admit women to study medicine. Lilian and her mother attended the University of Michigan, where they received their medical degrees and moved back to Manitoba.
Unfortunately, Lilian began using her medicine as a sleep aid and developed morphine and chloral hydrate addictions. To kick the habit, she tried hypnotherapy, miracle cures, and Christian Science to no avail. In 1898 her sister took her to John Alexander Dowie’s Christian Healing Home in Chicago. It was there that she could kick the habit due to what she saw as the power of God. At her sickest, she claims to have picked up a Bible and heard the voice of God telling her to go to church.
After this delivery, Lilian and her sister decided to work as medical missionaries amongst the Cree in northern Canada. In Canada, Lilian began to hear of the ministries of A.H. Argue and A.B. Simpson. Both were Canadians influenced by the Azusa Street Revival, and they brought this peculiar, ecstatic expression of faith to the great white north. Lilian and her sister claimed to have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1907 and began their evangelistic meetings.
[If you aren’t familiar with the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” this is modern Pentecostal teaching of a baptism beyond water baptism that signifies assurance of faith and is usually expected to be accompanied by speaking in tongues]
Lilian began writing for the magazine the Pentecostal Evangel, and here she came to the attention of Charles Price and Aimee Semple MacPherson. We know she continued to write and was invited to teach at McPherson’s L.I.F.E. Bible College in Los Angeles. She and sister Aimee had a falling out seemingly over what Lilian believed to be Sister Aimee’s moral failings. And then Lilian Yeomans seemingly disappeared- she spoke on the Pentecostal bible teaching circuit, but perhaps she was blackballed by Sister Aimee. Maybe she had a change of heart about her ministry. The writings about Lilian are few and written with a bent towards hagiography and moralizing., Nevertheless, we know her as the first Canadian female medical doctor, one of the first Canadian female pentecostal revival preachers, and someone connected to the Angelus Temple/Sister Aimee story still looking for severe historical treatment.
Lilian Yeomans died on this day in 1942. Born in 1861, she was 81 years old.
The last word for today comes from Mark 3:
3 Jesus returned to the synagogue. A man with a withered hand was there. 2 Wanting to bring charges against Jesus, they were watching Jesus closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, “Step up where people can see you.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it legal on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they said nothing. 5 Looking around at them with anger, deeply grieved at their unyielding hearts, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he did, and his hand was made healthy. 6 At that, the Pharisees got together with the supporters of Herod to plan how to destroy Jesus.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 9th of December 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man whose favorite Canadians you didn’t know were Canadians include Keanu Reeves, The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, and Pacey from Dawson’s Creek. He is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who loves those Canadian-style Ruffle’s. And Ketchup flavored chips. I love Canadian chips. I am Dan van Voorhis
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.