- McPherson, Aimee Semple
- ( 1890-194 4)evangelist and founder of Foursquare Gospel ChurchAimee Semple McPherson was born on October 9, 1890, near Ingersoll, Ontario. Named Beth Kennedy, as a child she took the name Aimee Elizabeth. She was raised in the Salvation Army.She was 17 when she married Robert James Semple (1881-1910), an evangelist for the new Pentecostal movement. Three years later, though Aimee was pregnant, they left for Hong Kong to work with the fledgling Pentecostal church started by Alfred G. Garr (1874-1944). After her husband contracted typhoid fever and died, Aimee took her newborn back to the United States, where she joined with her mother as part of a traveling revival team. In 1912, she married salesman Harold Steward McPherson.Aimee Semple McPherson launched her own career as a traveling evangelist in 1916, with Los Angeles as her base of operations. To supplement her work, she founded The Bridal Call periodical. Opposing her career, McPherson divorced her.By 1923, she had built the 5000-seat Angelus Temple in Los Angeles and opened the Lighthouse of International Foursquare Evangelism (L.I.F.E.) Bible School. Accepting ordination from BAPTISTS, she then founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. The "Foursquare Gospel" is derived from Albert Benjamin Simpson's "Fourfold Gospel," which emphasized Jesus as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and coming King. McPherson changed Sanctifier to Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, a reference to the unique pentecostal teaching.In 1924, McPherson became the first female to receive a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license, which she used to start her own radio station, the first in America owned and operated by a religious institution. It took the call letters KFSG (Kalling Four Square Gospel). Her broadcasts gave her a new level of national fame, far beyond that achieved by her flamboyant services at Angelus Temple.In 1926, McPherson disappeared for a month after swimming in the Pacific Ocean. The search for her body was front-page news until she reappeared in Mexico and claimed she had been kidnapped. While followers accepted the story, a more skeptical press speculated about an illicit affair. However, she was able to live down the scandal and continue building her institutions.By the time McPherson died on September 27, 1944, there were more than 400 congregations attached to the Church of the Foursquare Gospel in North America and some 200 mission stations in countries overseas, many led by female ministers. While she was by no means the first female ordained to the ministry, nor even the first to found a denomination, none before her were able to make such an impact on popular American religion or attain such an international presence. Her son, Rolf Kennedy McPherson, succeeded her as head of the church.Further reading:■ Edith L. Blumhofer, Aimee Semple McPherson. Everybody's Sister (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1993)■ Aimee Semple McPherson, In the Service of the King: The Story of My Life (New York: Boni & Liveright, 1927); , The Second Coming of Christ: Is He Coming? How Is He Coming? For Whom Is He Coming? (Los Angeles: Aimee Semple McPherson, 1921); , This Is That (Los Angeles: Bridal Call, 1919)■ Thomas, Lately, Storming Heaven (New York: William Morrow, 1970).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.