History of the Foursquare Church
The 20th-century evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson was a woman ahead of her time. She crossed the United States with two young children in an era when women were not permitted to vote. She established an evangelistic ministry and built a large evangelistic center at a time when women were expected to marry, have children and leave religion and other “important” pursuits to men. But God had a plan for her life that did not take into account human ways of doing things.
As an evangelist who preached the gospel not only across the United States but also around the world, Sister Aimee incorporated the cutting edge communications media of her day. People were healed by the thousands when she prayed for them, but she herself took no credit for the healings, instead giving full credit to God.
Upon opening the doors of Angelus Temple in Los Angeles in 1923, Sister Aimee developed an extensive social ministry, feeding more than 1.5 million people during the Great Depression. She summarized her message into four major points, which she called “the Foursquare Gospel”: Jesus is the Savior, Jesus is the Healer, Jesus is the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, and Jesus is the Soon-Coming King. She founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, also known as The Foursquare Church, which continues to spread the Foursquare Gospel throughout the world to this day.
The Foursquare Church
The Foursquare Church, officially named the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, is a Pentecostal denomination that resulted from the dynamic evangelistic ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson, who opened the historic Angelus Temple on Jan. 1, 1923.
Following the opening of Angelus Temple, our founder did not take time to rest on her laurels. The first “branch” church from Angelus Temple had its beginnings in Oct. 1923 in Long Beach, Calif. Other Los Angeles-area church plants rapidly ensued in Pasadena, Santa Monica, and Santa Ana; all four churches are still open today. As time passed, Foursquare branched out to the rest of the United States; we now have churches in most of the 50 states, including Hawaii and Alaska.
The launch into foreign ministry fields also began in the 1920s. In 1927 Sister Aimee commissioned Vincente and Teodora DeFante as missionaries to the Philippines. Foursquare is still alive and well in the Philippines, which has a very strong national church presence. A former missionary herself, our founder’s desire to go around the world with the Foursquare Gospel led to The Foursquare Church’s being known as a missionary movement. At this time we have approximately 100 missionary units deployed throughout the world. From our earliest days, foreign missions was a primary emphasis—and remains so today.
Another early Foursquare initiative was establishing an educational institution to train Foursquare ministers and missionaries. The Echo Park Evangelistic and Missionary Training Institute opened in 1923, not long after Angelus Temple opened. The institute’s name was changed in 1926 to L.I.F.E. (Lighthouse of International Foursquare Evangelism) Bible College. Today the school is known as Life Pacific College in San Dimas, Calif.; it is a WASC accredited college.