McPherson, Aimee Semple


McPherson, Aimee Semple
orig. Aimee Elizabeth Kennedy

born Oct. 9, 1890, near Ingersoll, Ont., Can.
died Sept. 27, 1944, Oakland, Calif., U.S.

Canadian-born U.S. Pentecostal evangelist.

Born on a farm, she began preaching at age 17, and in 1908 she went as a missionary to China with her husband, Robert Semple. After his death she came to the U.S., where her second marriage, to Harold McPherson, ended in 1918 when she became an itinerant evangelist and healer. She settled in Los Angeles and founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. For nearly 20 years she preached to large audiences at her Angelus Temple; she also built a radio station, wrote books and pamphlets, and established about 200 missions. In 1926 she disappeared mysteriously for five weeks; on her reappearance her tale of kidnapping was greeted with skepticism. A third marriage ended in divorce, and she faced numerous trials for financial irregularities. She died from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills.

* * *

▪ American religious leader
née  Aimee Elizabeth Kennedy 
born Oct. 9, 1890, near Ingersoll, Ont., Can.
died Sept. 27, 1944, Oakland, Calif., U.S.
 controversial American Pentecostal (Pentecostalism) evangelist and early radio preacher whose International Church of the Foursquare Gospel brought her wealth, notoriety, and a following numbering in the tens of thousands.

      Aimee Kennedy was reared by her mother in the work of the Salvation Army. She preached her own brand of the Christian gospel at age 17 and in 1908 was married to a Pentecostal evangelist, Robert J. Semple. Under her husband's influence she converted to that belief, and she did missionary work with him in China. After his death in Hong Kong in 1910 she returned to the United States. In 1912, while working with her mother and the Salvation Army in New York City, she married Harold S. McPherson; the marriage later ended when she turned to full-time itinerant evangelism and healing.

      Aimee McPherson's first official sermon occurred at Mount Forest, Ontario, in 1915. From the beginning she worked in spiritual healing and encouraged speaking in tongues and other common attributes of fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christianity. Under her mother's management she traveled through the United States and other countries, but from 1918 she made her headquarters in Los Angeles, where for almost 20 years she preached to large audiences in the Angelus Temple, built for her by her followers at a cost of $1.5 million.

      In 1923 the temple was dedicated as the Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a name deriving from McPherson's vision of a four-faced creature she interpreted as typifying Christ's fourfold role as Savior, Baptizer, Healer, and Coming King. Based on tenets of hope and salvation for the needy, her Foursquare Gospel appealed especially to migrant Southerners and Midwesterners who found themselves frustrated by the complexities of life in urban southern California. In 1927 she incorporated the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

      A born showman, McPherson preached every night at the temple, and Sunday services were attended by thousands of worshipers, who sat spellbound throughout extravaganzas that included patriotic and quasi-religious music played by a 50-piece band, prayers, and singing, all climaxed by a dramatic sermon. McPherson based much of the appeal of her movement on faith healing, adult baptism by immersion, and a pervading aura of optimism and spectacle. The temple radio station broadcast her services, and she published weekly and monthly magazines and operated numerous other enterprises. She compiled a book of sermons, This Is That (1923), and wrote In the Service of the King (1927) and Give Me My Own God (1936). She frequently made newspaper headlines, most notably in 1926, when she disappeared for several weeks (she claimed to have been kidnapped). She was also accused of a number of financial improprieties, but none was proved and none detracted from her appeal to her loyal following. During the 1930s she was dogged by numerous lawsuits—at one time 45 assorted legal actions were pending—and by disagreements with her family.

      By 1944 McPherson's Foursquare Gospel movement had grown to include some 400 branches in the United States and Canada and nearly 200 missions abroad, with membership numbering about 22,000. Her Bible College, founded in 1923 and from 1926 housed in the Lighthouse of International Foursquare Evangelism next to the Angelus Temple, had graduated more than 3,000 evangelists and missionaries. McPherson died from an overdose of sleeping pills that was declared accidental. Her son Rolf McPherson continued the movement.

Additional Reading
Biographies include Lately Thomas, Storming Heaven (1970); Daniel Mark Epstein, Sister Aimee (1993); and Edith L. Blumhofer, Aimee Semple McPherson (1993).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • McPherson, Aimee Semple — ( 1890 194 4)    evangelist and founder of Foursquare Gospel Church    Aimee 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… …   Encyclopedia of Protestantism

  • McPherson,Aimee Semple — Mc·Pher·son (mĭk fûrʹsən), Aimee Semple. 1890 1944. Canadian born American evangelist who founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (1927) and was known for her flamboyant preaching and extravagant religious services. * * * …   Universalium

  • McPherson, Aimee Semple — (1890–1944)    Missionary and Sect Founder.    McPherson was born Aimee Kennedy in Canada. She experienced an evangelical conversion through the preaching of Robert J. Semple and she subsequently married him. Together they went as missionaries to …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • McPherson, Aimee Semple — orig. Aimee Elizabeth Kennedy (9 oct. 1890, cerca de Ingersoll, Ontario, Canadá–27 sep. 1944, Oakland, Cal., EE.UU.). Evangelizadora pentecostal estadounidense de origen canadiense. Nacida en una granja, comenzó a predicar a la edad de 17 años y… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Aimee Semple McPherson — Nacimiento 9 de octubre de 1890   …   Wikipedia Español

  • Aimee Semple McPherson (film) — Aimee Semple McPherson (2006) is a feature length dramatic biopic about evangelist Sister Aimee Semple McPherson.The cast includes Mimi Michaels, Rance Howard, and Kiera Chaplin. Richard Rossi wrote, directed and also acted in the film. Rossi… …   Wikipedia

  • Aimee Semple McPherson — Infobox Person name =Aimee Semple McPherson image size = 250ps caption = birth name = Aimee Elizabeth Kennedy birth date = birth date|1890|10|09 birth place = Salford, Ontario death date = death date and age|1944|09|27|1890|10|09 death place… …   Wikipedia

  • Aimee Semple McPherson — noun United States evangelist (born in Canada) noted for her extravagant religious services (1890 1944) • Syn: ↑McPherson • Instance Hypernyms: ↑evangelist, ↑revivalist, ↑gospeler, ↑gospeller …   Useful english dictionary

  • Semple — may refer to:* Jake Semple, a fictional character from the book Surviving the Applewhites * Semple Stadium, the home of hurling for TipperaryPeople with the given name Semple:* Aimee Semple McPherson (1890 1944), Canadian born evangelist and… …   Wikipedia

  • McPherson — may refer to: Contents 1 People 1.1 In sports 1.2 In politics 1.3 …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.