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Four-Square Gospel
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Name: International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
Founded: January 1, 1923
Lineage: Christian > Protestant > Pentecostal

Name: Aimee Semple McPherson
Born: October 9, 1890 in Salford, Ontario
Died: September 27, 1944

The Church of the Four-Square Gospel was founded by Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944) in Los Angeles in 1918. At the age of seventeen, she had been questioning her parents' Methodism and declared herself an atheist. However, she attended a Holy Ghost Revival where she heard the preaching of Robert Semple, an Irish evangelist. At this time, she fell in love both with Semple and with his message.

Semple and Aimee were married on August 12, 1908, but the relationship would not last because Robert died just two years later. After another four years, she married Harold McPherson - a man who was looking for a very traditional marriage and traditional wife, but that was not to be. They ended up divorcing and Aimee opened the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, started a radio station, opened a Bible college - all of which would become the foundation for her Four-Square Gospel Church.

The "four square" is salvation, the presence of the Holy Spirit, healing and millennialism. Hers was basically a Pentecostal church to which was added Aimee's personal charisma and sense of good marketing. Like other Pentecostal churches, the primary source of beliefs and inspiration lies in the Bible, and members accept such doctrines as Baptism by the Holy Spirit, the power of Christ to divinely heal faithful believers, and the future Second Coming of Christ.

Today there are perhaps 235,000 members in 1,900 churches in the United States and Canada.

Aimee Semple McPherson originally eschewed the "Pentecostal" label because of the controversial nature of the movement, but the growth of her church was inseparable from the growth of Pentecostalism; thus, their fates were fundamentally linked. The fact that the church was lead by a woman was also controversial, especially for the time. Pentecostal churches are very conservative by nature and having a woman in a position of such personal leadership is unusual.

McPherson gained a great deal of notoriety when she was allegedly kidnapped in May, 1926, while swimming in the Pacific. She reappeared in June with a bizarre tale about being held captive in a shack in the Mexican desert. There were rumors that she was involved in an affair with a married radio operator and more. the city of Los Angeles put her on trial for fraud, but she was acquitted. Her death in 1944 was attributed to an overdose of sleeping pills.

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