Reverend Adele Myrtle Clemens (1901 - 1972) was the founder of Divine Harmony Spiritual Church which she originally operated in New York City's Carnegie Hall during the early 1940s. For a time she was an associate of the controversial Reverend Major J. Divine (also known as Father Divine), and her work was also sponsored by Hereward Carrington, head of the American Psychical Institute and one of the most prominent figures of his time. She was a prolific speaker and gave many lectures on metaphysical topics along with evangelical tours all across the country. She was the author of several books and pamphlets. Reverend Clemens moved her church to Hollywood, California, and finally to her home town of Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Later in life she gained further notoriety for her artwork, which was exhibited all over the country. Although she had no formal training, she pioneered new techniques in coloring and design which garnered acclaim from many critics and experts of her time. She organized and led the Studio Artists Group in Wilkes-Barre for many years which offered instruction and guidance for aspiring artists. She also taught numerous art and craft classes at the YWCA in Wilkes-Barre.

Early Life

Adele Myrtle Clemens was born in 1901 near Forty Fort, Pennsylvania. She was the eldest child of William and Rosa Clemens. Family lore held that William and his children were related to the famous author and social critic Samuel Langhorne Clemens, also know as Mark Twain. Early in life Adele became interested in spirituality and the arts, which would become her two lifelong passions. Her mother Rosa held similar interests and taught Adele card reading as well as encouraging her children's creative passions.

Time as a Vaudeville Performer

Adele's brother, John Clemens, was interested in both writing and music. John submitted his stories to science-fiction magazines and also took piano lessons from Alessandro Baccari (who then went by Mario Mani) - an artist, photographer, musician, and playwright of some notoriety who had moved to Wilkes-Barre from New York City. Adele frequented Baccari's exhibitions and likely even modeled for some of his work. Eventually Baccari began staging elaborate plays in the city and cast local acquaintances in roles - one of those cast was Adele who appeared as models or living statues. In the early 20s, Baccari's plays went on the road as his star rose even higher and Adele toured all over the east coast.

While on this whirlwind tour, in Philadelphia she met and married a man named Howard Brodie in 1922. Mr. Brodie turned out to be a man of questionable character who habitually changed the spelling of his name, lied about where he was from, was arrested for acts of fraud, and was also a serial womanizer having been arrested for writing bad checks to shower women with gifts and also having been married to at least three women in three years during the time Adele was involved with him. In fact it is unknown whether he was actually divorced from his previous wife (or wives) when he and Adele were married. This coupling did not last long (not even a year), and Adele returned home to Wilkes-Barre where she dedicated herself to her art and spiritual pursuits.

Rise as Spiritual Leader

Adele dedicated herself to the study of art and religion, and began to offer her card reading, numerology, and astrology services professionally in Wilkes-Barre, running regular advertisements in the papers. She traveled extensively and was a voracious student of metaphysics. Soon she had her own office in the Oddfellows building in Wilkes-Barre which was dedicated to her services, and had joined the American Institute of Psychical Research where she gained the attention of noted metaphysics expert Dr. Hereward Carrington.

Dr. Carrington managed the schedules of many experts on metaphysical topics and would later sponsor many of Adele's lectures and spriitual ventures. In 1938, Adele married family friend John Brandon, a WW1 veteran, who gave his full support to her spiritual and artistic pursuits. By 1940, Adele had begun advertising lessons in Divine Harmony, and was also giving lectures on metaphysical topics. Added to her list of services now was a rental library of spiritual and occult books Clemens had collected during her travels. Adele began to accept speaking engagement all across the country.

Carnegie Hall and founding of Divine Harmony Spiritual Church

Adele's brother, John Clemens, had by this point had become an accomplished concert pianist and had taken a job at the Campbell Inn resort in New York. There he had met Max Saxon, an art enthusiast from New York City, and the two became life partners. In 1940, John and Max founded the Saxon and Clemens company which specialized in affixing ornate frames to fine artworks. They opened a shop on Madison Avenue. Adele, enjoying great success, joined them in New York City and occupied a studio in the towers at Carnegie Hall. This studio space was a part of what was America's first art colony - today sometimes referred to as the "Lost Bohemia." The studio apartments were occupied by some of the most famous artists, actors, musicians, dancers, and photographers of the day. Leonard Bernstein, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Bella Lugosi, and many others all lived and worked there at various points.

It was during this period of time Adele also began a short association with Father Major Divine's Peace Mission. She became ordained in Spiritualist Ministry and for 16 Sundays she led services at the Church of Divine Revelation in Harlem. She simultaneously founded Divine Harmony Spiritual Church in her studio at Carnegie Hall. This combination church/art studio would become the distinguishing characteristic of Reverend Adele's Divine Harmony Spiritual Church. During this time, Reverend Adele ministered to both the elite of Carnegie Hall and the oppressed in Harlem equally. She documented her methods for candlelight services in Mikhail Strabo's book "How to Conduct a Candlelight Service" which is still used as a guide by many practitioners today. She also continued her passion for art and made numerous contributions to the Saxon & Clemens company.

Return to Wilkes-Barre and time in Hollywood

In 1944 Adele's husband John Brandon had become very ill and she returned to Wilkes-Barre to be with him in his final months. He passed away in June of 1944. Adele remained in Wilkes-Barre and re-established Divine Harmony Spiritual Church there while also continuing to lecture across the US on spiritual topics. She also opened her own art studio and gallery which, just like in New York, occupied the same space as the church. From the period of 1944 through 1947, Adele gave numerous public art exhibitions.

In 1948 Adele moved to Hollywood, California in a partnership with a Korean artist she had met in New York named Ilyup Chooh. Chooh had moved to the west coast and opened the Pasadena Art Gallery. While in Hollywood, Adele had many art exhibitions including at least one along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Adele expanded on her famous clientèle she had amassed in New York and gained many famous patrons who were employed in the movie business. By 1950 she had moved back to her home town of Wilkes-Barre.

Later Years and Artistic Accomplishments

Although Adele continued to accept speaking engagement as well as continuing her spiritual services, by the mid 1950s she was focusing heavily on her artistic pursuits. She began to hold numerous exhibitions - sometimes several per year - and also started to teach art classes. In 1956, along with her friend and fellow artist Joseph Dukinas, she founded the Studio Artist Group of Wyoming Valley which offered instruction and resources to aspiring young artists. Adele put her full weight behind the group, planning many outings, exhibitions, and classes. By the 1960s it was said that every artist in Wilkes-Barre had likely at some point learned something from Adele Clemens.

By 1972 she was still a towering presence in the art community when hurricane Agnes struck Wilkes-Barre, causing a devastating flood that destroyed much of the town. Her studio and Divine Harmony Spiritual Church were badly damaged if not destroyed. Although Adele began to pick up the pieces, she died a month later on July 21, 1972. She was buried in Memorial Shrine Cemetery in Carverton, Pennsylvania.

Legacy and Impact

Over 80 years after she founded Divine Harmony Spiritual Church, and over 50 years after her death, Reverend Adele's influence still continues. Her numerous contributions to the Saxon and Clemens art company are now highly sought after collector's items. She was the author of several books and pamphlets, among them a book on church candle services she co-authored with Mikhael Strabo, and a one-sheet entitled 'Following in His Footsteps.' Reverend Clemens was a pioneer in the spiritual church movement and her published methods on candlelight services are still influential today.

Although several attempts were made at re-launching Divine Harmony Spiritual Church, it wasn't until Reverend Jon Saint Germain opened the doors of the current incarnation on June 17, 2016 that the church resumed regular services. Reverend Adele's story had largely been lost since her death and there was precious little information about her. In 2018, Reverend Saint Germain and his son, an avid genealogist, launched an extensive research effort which led to the book "An Artist Among the Spirits - The Celebrated Life of Adele Clemens." This research effort is still ongoing today. We are repeatedly astonished by new information we uncover about Reverend Clemens and the amazing life she led, and we know there are still yet more discoveries to be made.