Manie Payne was born in Carlow County , Ireland. Though I don’t know how or why she made it to the United States, she did. She married Theodore Pollock Ferguson in Mansfield Ohio in 1883. Theodore was a former Presbyterian minister who later converted to the holiness movement and became an itinerant preacher. He moved with Manie to Los Angeles during the boom of 1885-1886. He and Manie, or Mother Ferguson, as she was known, founded a nondenominational mission called the Los Angeles Mission. This was later renamed the Peniel Mission. The name was chosen from Genesis 32:30 when Jacob established Peniel, the face of God, for he saw God face to face and did not perish. They held street-corner meetings in the afternoons and evangelistic services at night. They did not claim to be a church, but expected converts to join an established denomination. It used many of the same methods as the Salvation Army. Manie was the guiding force in expanding Peniel along the west coast, and on into Africa, Asia and South America with the main focus of helping single women. In 1894, Manie and Theodore built a 900 seat hall, a sort of nondenominational mega-church of the 1890’s. Eventually, most missionaries left for other ministries and the remaining Peniel Mission is in Stockton California.
Manie wrote many poems and hymns. Her most famous is “Blessed Quietness”. In this time of Lent, it’s worthwhile to spend some time in quiet, and I don’t get enough. With Manie’s many activities, she probably got very little quiet time needed for spiritual growth. I most appreciate her fourth verse, which includes the lines “See, a fruitful field is growing . . . and the streams of life are flowing in the lonely wilderness.”