Emma Curtis Hopkins (1853-1925)
Emma Curtis Hopkins, the author of "High Mysticism" and "Scientific Christian Mental Practice" was a student of Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science, who started her own school, and some argue that she was the founder of the New Thought movement.
Mrs. Hopkins' gift for teaching showed itself early. Before she was fifteen years old, she entered Woodstock Academy (Conneticut) as a student and because of her genius was given a place on the faculty as a teacher.
Later in life she returned to being a student, taking class instructions in Christian Science, following which she served editorially on the staff of the Christian Science Journal -- only to find her purpose asserting itself and drawing her into the role of independent leadership and of a great teacher.
Authors, preachers, homemakers -- came to her for instruction and she touched them with the quickening power of her illumined soul. As independent teacher, Mrs. Hopkins taught in many cities (among them New York, Chicago, Kansas, San Francisco) having large classes wherever she went. Later she founded a seminary in Chicago. It was a regularly incorporated school and the graduates were ordained ministers and so recognized by the State of Illinois. Students came from all parts of the country to study with her and go out and carry the message of healing and comforting to the people.
Among her students were many who later became prominent teachers and leaders within the New Thought movement, including Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, founders of the Unity School of Christianity, H. Emilie Cady, author of the Unity textbook "Lessons in Truth," as well as Frances Lord, Annie Rix-Militz, George Edwin, Malinda E. Cramer, co-founder of Divine Science, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, New Thought poetess, Elizabeth Town; and considerably later Ernest Holmes, founder of the Church of Religious Science.
After an economic crisis wiped out Charles Fillmore's successful real estate business and his wife Myrtle became sick with tuberculosis, the Fillmores followed the recommendation of a friend and went to a lecture given by Dr. E. B. Weeks, a student of Emma Curtis Hopkins. As a result of this lecture, Myrtle was cured of her illness and the roots of the Unity School of Christianity were set. The Fillmores later went to study with Hopkins herself and continued to develop their religious movement wholeheartedly.
Mrs. Hopkins was way ahead of her times in the freedom offered students in a group activity which the faculty of the seminary became. Her innate teaching quality shows in the leadership her teaching quickened in students who established independent movements now ministering to mankind.
Here's what Charles Fillmore had to say about her: "She is undoubtedly the most successful teacher in the world. In many instances those who enter her classes confirmed invalids come out at the end of the course perfectly well. Her very presence heals and those who listen are filled with new life. Never before on this planet have such words of burning Truth been so eloquently spoken through a women."
This tribute was paid to her in Unity (1925): "Her brilliance of mind and spirit was so marked that very few could follow in her metaphysical flights, yet she had marked power in quickening spirituality in her students."
New Thought has had the unique position among emergent religious movements of having, from the very beginning, women play an integral role in leadership. A critical differentiation between New Thought and Christian Science coincided with the increasing establishment of women and feminist ideas in both of these emerging religious movements. In 1881, Mary Baker Eddy was already well established as the leader of Christian Science. Emma worked on the Christian Science Journal until 1885 when she left to form her own institution. The resulting Emma Hopkins College of Metaphysical Science was highly successful and made huge impact particularly in terms of advancing women in the field.
Specifically, in the first graduation ceremony of the Emma Hopkins College of Metaphysical Science in 1889, Hopkins graduated a total of 22 individuals of which 20 were women. Not only did her school encourage women to take these leadership roles, but she actually based her theology on an interpretation of the Trinity based on ideas initiated by Joachim of Fiore which stated that there were three eras in the history of this traditional trio. The first was the patriarchal idea of "God the Father", the second was a time of freedom for the general population which was signified by the birth of Jesus, and the third, "the Spirit, the Truth-Principle, or the Mother-Principle," focused on the power of women. The latter element of this interpretation of the Trinity was embodied by the pioneering roles which each of these women had in helping to even the playing field of the genders.
Mrs. Hopkins lived until 1925. After her death her sister Estelle Carpenter took over, aided by a teacher, Eleanor Mel. A Miss Ethelred Folsom, who had studied with Mrs. Hopkins and apparently had accompanied her on a trip to Europe, set up an organization to perpetuate Mrs. Hopkins' influence and people were invited to come to classes in Mrs. Hopkins' teachings, and her works were published and distributed under the name "The Ministry of the High Watch."
"Scientific Christian Mental Practice" is Emma Curtis Hopkins' masterpiece, and is one of the greatest of all works based on mysticism. "When the Lord is your confidence you will never find yourself at all deceived by the ways and speech of men and women, though they be very brilliant, if they speak outside of the Principle that demonstrates healing and goodness and life."