When she died in September 1930, Mother Mary Moise was hailed as a great social worker and a woman of uncompromising faith. In 1904, she was awarded first prize at the World Fair for her work with homeless women. Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1850, Mother Moise possessed a Southern gentility and charm that endeared her to many social outcasts in the St. Louis area, where she labored first under the auspices of the Episcopal Church and later as leader of a Pentecostal mission, Bible school, shelter and hotel for itinerant Pentecostal preachers.Her husband, Albert Welborne Moise, was a distinguished graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and a lawyer. Mr. Moise did not accept his wife’s increasing dedication to missions work, and the two separated amicably sometime after 1905. Apparently, the mission continued to receive benefaction from Mr. Moise’s business clients. The fact that the Moises were buried together suggests that rather than any sort of dissolution of their marriage, there was a workable understanding about their respective plans. He chose relative affluence and success, and she chose ministry to the dejected, living meal to meal and provision to provision.
Her inner-city work was dedicated to social pariahs and fallen women. She operated various works in St. Louis including: Bethany Christian Home, Door of Hope, the Pentecostal Rescue Home and the Dorothy Phillips Mission, named for an unfortunate girl who committed suicide. No on was too destitute or stained by the world to receive food, shelter, medicine, and prayer at one of Mother Moises’s facilities. Police often remanded prostitutes to the care of Mother Moise, a true testament to the efficacy of her labor.
Exactly when Mary Moise converted from Episcopalian to Pentecostal is not precisely clear. In 1907, Bro. Seeley D. Kinne came to the city of St. Louis from the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles and opened the first Apostolic Faith work over the Monarch Laundry (Warner “St. Louis Era” 1). It was probably then that Mother Moise became acquainted with Kinne’s work. Certainly, she was already a convert before 1909 , when Mother Mary Barnes, another Pentecostal pioneer worker and evangelist, joined the staff of the mission and conducted many of the preaching services. Mary Barnes had a reputation as a fiery and anointed preacher and often traveled with her prayer and evangelism bands through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, holding Pentecostal meetings in tents and brush arbor (Warner “MMM of St. Louis” 6). In St. Louis, Mothers Moise and Barnes worked together, offering young women and vagrants a message of salvation and transformation through the power of God.
In January 1915, Bro. Glenn A. Cook, a former elder in the Azusa Street Mission under W.J. Seymour, arrived in St. Louis on a campaign through the Midwest, spreading the doctrine of baptism in Jesus’ Name. The truth of the New Testament baptismal formula had been recovered during the World Wide Pentecostal Camp Meeting in Arroyo Seco, California in 1913. After examining the scriptures and seeking God’s direction, Bro. Cook and Bro. Frank Ewart rebaptized one another in the Name of Jesus. Bro. Cook, who had been instrumental in spreading the Pentecostal message throughout the Midwest, no came bearing the revelation of the Oneness of God. Mother Moise, Mother Barnes, and nearly forth others at the mission accepted Bro. Cook’s message and were rebaptized in the Mississippi River in the Name of Jesus.
Only Heaven records the stories of the lives touched and changed by the work of the Mother Mary Moise. Many Pentecostal leaders found Apostolic truth under her roof and tutelage. She sacrificed a lifestyle of comfort and ease to answer the call to minister as a servant to those in sorest need. Her life and testimony of faith and service are an example to all of God’s people to lay up incorruptible, heavenly treasure.
Warner, Wayne. “The St. Louis Era.” AG Heritage 1 (1), pp. 1-2.
Warner, Wayne. “Mother Mary Moise of St. Louis: a Pioneer in Pentecostal Social Ministry.” AG Heritage 10 March 1986, p. 6.