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Notable Women In Faith: Past & Present

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Aimee Semple McPherson

AIMEE SEMPLE MCPHERSON

Rev. Aimee Semple McPherson is the epitome of a celebrity preacher.  She built a megachurch before America had any, and at the height of her ministry, she was the most publicized preacher and evangelist in America.

Born in 1890 in Ontario, Canada, McPherson began her public profile when as a teenager she wrote a letter to the editor of a Canadian newspaper questioning the teaching of evolution with the use of taxpayers’ money.  This was her first exposure to fame as people nationwide responded to her letter.

While attending a revival meeting in 1907, she met a Pentecostal evangelist visiting from Ireland.  She was transformed by his message and soon dedicated her life to God.  A year later, they were married.  They studied the Bible together and soon moved to Chicago and joined Williams Durham’s Full Gospel Assembly.  Semple contracted malaria and dysentery during their evangelistic tour to China, and he died in Hong Kong.  Despite the loss of her husband, McPherson held evangelistic services and Bible classes on board the ship that was returning to the United States.

McPherson was solid in her conviction that she heard the voice of God calling her to preach.  She travelled America and the world, and with her unique style of theatrical preaching, she assembled some of the largest crowds in America.  Her ministry would go on to attract celebrities and politicians, including US presidents.

It was in 1918 that McPherson moved to Los Angeles.  Her ministry rented the 3500-seat Philharmonic Auditorium, and despite its size, crowds would wait for hours to get into the auditorium.  She would eventually build America’s largest domed church named Angelus Temple.  As an outgrowth, the church became the headquarters for what we now know as Foursquare Church, a global denomination with more than 8 million members and churches across the globe.

Aimee Semple McPherson died in a hotel room in Oakland, California in 1944 during a series of revivals.  She was found by her son, who went on to lead the organization for the next 44 years.

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