|Name:||Aimee Semple McPherson|
|Birth Day:||October 9, 1890|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
She learned her piety from her mother who would work with the poor in Salvation Army soup kitchens.
While attending a revival meeting in 1907, McPherson met Robert James Semple, a Pentecostal missionary from Ireland. She dedicated her life to Jesus and converted to Pentecostalism. At the meeting, she became enraptured by Semple and his message. After a short courtship, they were married in an August 1908 Salvation Army ceremony. Semple supported them as a foundry worker and preached at the local Pentecostal mission. They studied the Bible together, then moved to Chicago and joined William Durham's Full Gospel Assembly. Durham instructed her in the practice of interpretation of tongues.
After her recuperation in the United States, McPherson joined her mother Mildred working with the Salvation Army. While in New York City, she met accountant Harold Stewart McPherson. They were married in 1912, moved to Providence, Rhode Island, and had a son, Rolf Potter Kennedy McPherson, in 1913.
As part of William Durham's Full Gospel Assembly in Chicago, McPherson became known for interpreting glossolalia, translating the words of people speaking in tongues. Unable to find fulfillment as a housewife, in 1913, McPherson began evangelizing, holding tent revivals across the Sawdust Trail. McPherson quickly amassed a large following, often having to relocate to larger buildings to accommodate growing crowds. She emulated the enthusiasm of Pentecostal meetings but avoided their unbridled chaos, in which participants would shout, tremble on the floor, and speak in tongues. McPherson set up a separate tent area for such displays of religious fervor, which could be off-putting to larger audiences.
During this time, McPherson felt as though she denied her "calling" to go preach. Struggling with emotional distress and obsessive–compulsive disorder, she would weep and pray. In 1914, she fell seriously ill with appendicitis. McPherson later stated that after a failed operation, she heard a voice asking her to go preach. After accepting the voice's challenge, she said, she was able to turn over in bed without pain. In 1915, her husband returned home and discovered that McPherson had left him and taken the children. A few weeks later, he received a note inviting him to join her in evangelistic work.
In 1916, McPherson embarked on a tour of the Southern United States, and again in 1918 with Mildred Kennedy. Standing on the back seat of their convertible, McPherson preached sermons over a megaphone.
In 1917, she started a magazine, Bridal Call, for which she wrote articles about women's roles in religion; she portrayed the link between Christians and Jesus as a marriage bond. Along with taking women's roles seriously, the magazine contributed to transforming Pentecostalism into an ongoing American religious presence.
Harold McPherson followed her to bring her home, but changed his mind after seeing her preaching, and joined her in evangelism, setting up tents for revival meetings and preaching. The couple sold their house and lived out of their "Gospel Car". Harold McPherson, despite his initial enthusiasm, wanted a more stable and predictable life, and returned to Rhode Island. In 1918 he filed for separation, then petitioned for divorce, citing abandonment; the divorce was granted in 1921.
In 1918, McPherson moved to Los Angeles. Mildred Kennedy rented the 3,500-seat Philharmonic Auditorium, and people waited for hours to get into the crowded venue. Afterwards, attendees of her meetings built a home for her family. At this time, Los Angeles was a popular vacation destination. Rather than touring the United States, McPherson chose to stay in Los Angeles, drawing audiences from both visitors and the city's burgeoning population. Her ministry to tourists allowed her message to spread nationwide.
In Baltimore in 1919 she was first "discovered" by newspapers after conducting evangelistic services at the Lyric Opera House, where she performed faith-healing demonstrations. During these events the crowds in their religious ecstasy were barely kept under control. Baltimore became a pivotal point for her early career.
McPherson published the weekly Foursquare Crusader. She began broadcasting on radio in the early 1920s. In April 1922, she became the first woman to preach a sermon wirelessly. With the opening of Foursquare Gospel-owned KFSG on in 1924, she became the second woman granted a broadcast license by the Department of Commerce, which supervised broadcasting at the time.
In June 1925, after an earthquake in Santa Barbara McPherson interrupted a radio broadcast to request food, blankets, clothing, and emergency supplies. In 1928, after a dam failed and the ensuing flood left up to 600 dead, McPherson's church led the relief effort. In 1933, an earthquake struck and devastated Long Beach. McPherson quickly arranged for volunteers offering blankets, coffee, and doughnuts. McPherson persuaded fire and police departments to assist in distribution. Doctors, physicians, and dentists staffed her free clinic that trained nurses to treat children and the elderly. To prevent the power from being turned off to homes of overdue accounts during the winter, a cash reserve was set up with the utility company.
In August 1925, McPherson chartered a plane to Los Angeles to give her Sunday sermon. Aware of the opportunity for publicity, she arranged for followers and press at the airport. The plane failed after takeoff and the landing gear collapsed, sending the nose of the plane into the ground. McPherson used the experience as the narrative of an illustrated sermon called "The Heavenly Airplane", featuring the devil as pilot, sin as the engine, and temptation as propeller.
By early 1926, McPherson had become one the most influential women and ministers of her time, influential in many social, educational and political areas. McPherson crusaded against Darwinian evolution and became a supporter of William Jennings Bryan during the 1925 Scopes trial, about local laws prohibiting the teaching of human evolution. Bryan and McPherson worked together in the Temple, and they believed that Darwinism undermined morality, "poisoning the minds of the children of the nation." McPherson organized an all-night prayer service, preceded by a Bible parade through Los Angeles."
The reported kidnapping of Aimee Semple McPherson caused a media frenzy and changed her life and career. After disappearing in May 1926, she reappeared in Mexico five weeks later, stating she had been held for ransom in a desert shack. Subsequent grand-jury inquiries precipitated continued public interest.
On May 18, 1926, McPherson disappeared from Ocean Park Beach in Santa Monica, CA. Presuming she had drowned, searchers combed the area. McPherson sightings were reported around the county, often many miles apart. The Temple received calls and letters claiming knowledge of McPherson, including ransom demands. After weeks of unpromising leads, Mildred Kennedy believed her daughter to be dead.
Drawing from her childhood experience with the Salvation Army, in 1927 McPherson opened a commissary at Angelus Temple offering food, clothing, and blankets. She became active in creating soup kitchens, free clinics, and other charitable activities during the Great Depression, and fed an estimated 1.5 million. Volunteer workers filled commissary baskets with food and other items, as well as Foursquare Gospel literature. When the government shut down the free school-lunch program, McPherson took it over. Her giving "alleviated suffering on an epic scale".
In 1927, McPherson set out on a "vindication tour", taking advantage of the publicity from her kidnapping story to preach. She even visited nightclubs, including Texas Guinan's speakeasy, where she addressed the crowd. Her visits to bars added to McPherson's notoriety: newspapers reported heavily on them; and rumors erroneously implied she was drinking, smoking and dancing.
Mildred Kennedy did not agree with McPherson's strategy of tearing down barriers between the secular and religious. In 1927, Kennedy left the Temple, along with other church members including 300 members of the choir. Attempting to curtail her daughter's influence, Kennedy initiated a staff-member confidence vote against McPherson, but lost. The two had argued over management and McPherson's changing dress and appearance. Kennedy's administrative skills had been crucial to growing McPherson's ministry and maintaining Temple activities. A series of management staff replaced Kennedy, and the Temple became involved in various unsuccessful projects such as hotel building, cemetery plots, and land sales, plummeting into debt. In response to the difficulties, Kennedy returned in 1929, but because of continued disagreements with McPherson, resigned again in July 1930. The following month, McPherson suffered a physical and nervous breakdown. For 10 months, she was absent from the pulpit, diagnosed with acute acidosis.
Allegations of love affairs directed against McPherson started during the 1926 kidnapping trial. Suspected lovers generally denied involvement. Alarmed by her style of dress and involvement with Hollywood, a Temple official hired detectives in 1929 to shadow McPherson. The detectives found no evidence of affairs. After McPherson's death, unsubstantiated allegations of affairs continued to emerge. Canadian journalist Gordon Sinclair claimed a 1934 affair in his autobiography. Another claim by comedian Milton Berle alleged a brief affair with the evangelist. Berle asserted that he met McPherson in Los Angeles where both were doing a charity show. Another book by Berle published during McPherson's life did not claim an affair. Biographer Matthew Sutton asserted that Berle's story of a crucifix in McPherson's bedroom was inconsistent with the coolness of Pentecostal-Catholic relations during that era. Other contradictions in Milton Berle's story were noted as well. During that period, from publications, church and travel records, the evangelist's appearances and whereabouts could be traced almost every day, and there was no record of the charity show Berle alleged. McPherson had her own charities. Moreover, she was incapacitated with illness a full five months of that year, By 1931, McPherson kept herself chaperoned to guard against allegations."
McPherson remarried in 1931 to actor and musician David Hutton. After she fell and fractured her skull, she visited Europe to recover. While there, she was angered to learn Hutton was billing himself as "Aimee's man" in his cabaret singing act and was frequently photographed with scantily clad women. Hutton's personal scandals were damaging the reputation of the Foursquare Gospel Church and its leader. McPherson and Hutton separated in 1933 and divorced in 1934. McPherson later publicly repented of the marriage for both theological and personal reasons and later rejected gospel singer Homer Rodeheaver when he proposed marriage in 1935.
When she returned, she introduced her "Attar of Roses" sermon, based on the Song of Solomon. In October 1931 McPherson held a revival in Boston, a city with large Unitarian, Episcopalian, and Catholic populations, traditionally hostile to Pentecostal messages. On opening night, McPherson spoke to fewer than 5,000 in the 22,000-seat sports arena. The following day, her campaign's tone shifted and attendance climbed sharply. The final day of afternoon and evening services saw 40,000 people attending, exceeding the stadium venue's capacity and breaking attendance records.
In 1932, the commissary was raided by police, allegedly to locate a still used to make brandy out of donated apricots. As a consequence, the commissary was briefly shut down, and the staff was let go. However, students from her Foursquare Gospel Church's L.I.F.E. Bible College filled in.
In the 1930s McPherson and the Foursquare Gospel Church explored Pacifism, a component of Pentecostalism. McPherson also considered Gandhi's views on pacifism, and Clinton Howard, chairman of the World Peace Commission, was invited to speak at the Temple. In 1932, she promoted disarmament. Foursquare leaders, alarmed at rapid changes in military technology, drew up an amendment inclusive of varied opinions on military service. Two views were held acceptable: the idea that one could bear arms in a righteous cause; and the view that killing of others, even in connection to military service, would endanger their souls. McPherson monitored international events leading up to the Second World War, believing that the apocalypse and the Second Coming of Christ were at hand.
McPherson caused concern among some Los Angeles churches. Though she shared many of their fundamentalist beliefs, her lavish sermons and faith-healing events, along with her status as a female divorcee, were unprecedented, and her style of dress was drawing emulators. Her illustrated sermons attracted criticism from some clergy members for allegedly turning the Gospel message into mundane entertainment. Faith healing was considered to be unique to Apostolic times. Rival radio evangelist Robert P. Shuler published a pamphlet titled McPhersonism, in which he called her ministry "out of harmony with God's word." Debates such as the Bogard-McPherson debate in 1934 drew further attention to the controversy.
McPherson was not a radical literalist. She believed that the creation story in the book of Genesis allowed great latitude of interpretation, and did not insist on young-earth creationism. In another meeting with students, McPherson heard an assertion that Christianity had outlived its usefulness. The encounter persuaded her to travel and gain new perspectives. In 1935, McPherson embarked on a six-month world tour, partly to study the women's movement in connection with India's independence struggle and speak with Mahatma Gandhi, who gave her a sari made on his spinning wheel. Impressed with Gandhi, McPherson thought he might secretly lean toward Christianity. Other highlights included visiting Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar, hearing Benito Mussolini speak in Italy, and sitting on a wrecked military vehicle on a still-uncleared battlefield in Verdun, France.
All-night prayer meetings were held at the Temple starting in 1940 as Germany occupied Europe. She asked other Foursquare churches around the country to follow suit. She sent President Franklin Roosevelt's secretary, Stephen Early, an outline of her plans, and various officials expressed appreciation, including the governor of California.
She insulted Adolf Hitler and Hideki Tōjō, and became involved in war bond rallies. McPherson sold $150,000 worth of bonds in one hour in 1942, breaking previous records, then repeated the performance in 1944. The U.S. Treasury awarded her a special citation and the army made McPherson an honorary colonel. Her wartime activities included sermons linking the church and patriotism. She felt that if the Allies did not prevail, churches, homes, and everything dear to Christians would be destroyed.
Her efforts toward interracial revival continued. She welcomed black people into the congregation and pulpit. While race riots burned Detroit in 1943, McPherson publicly converted the black former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson on the Temple stage and embraced him.
Rubber and other drives were organized, and unlimited airtime on her radio station, was given to the Office of War Information. She asked listeners to donate two hours a day for such tasks as rolling bandages. Money was raised to provide military bases with comfortable furnishings and radios. Newsweek published an article about McPherson, "The World's Greatest Living Minister" in 1943, noting that she had collected 2,800 pints of blood for the Red Cross; servicemen in her audience are especially honored, and the climax of her church services is when she reads the National Anthem. McPherson gave visiting servicemen autographed Bibles. She wrote:
On September 26, 1944, McPherson went to Oakland, California, for a series of revivals, planning to preach her popular "Story of My Life" sermon. When McPherson's son went to her hotel room at 10:00 the next morning, he found her unconscious with pills and a half-empty bottle of capsules nearby. She was dead by 11:15. It was later discovered that she had called her doctor that morning complaining of feeling ill from the medicine, but he was in surgery. She then phoned another doctor who referred her to yet another physician. However, McPherson lost consciousness before the third could be contacted.
Her continual work at church alliance-building finally bore posthumous fruit. Foursquare Gospel Church leaders joined the National Association of Evangelicals in 1952 and helped organize the Pentecostal World Fellowship. Pentecostalism, which once advocated separatism and was on the fringes of Protestantism, became part of mainstream Christianity.
McPherson was the subject of or inspiration for numerous books, periodicals, films, and plays. Characters who were modeled on McPherson included Sharon Falconer in Sinclair Lewis' novel Elmer Gantry (played by Jean Simmons in the film adaptation), faith-healing evangelist Big Sister in Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust (played by Geraldine Page in the film adaptation) and Upton Sinclair's Eli Watkins, a corrupt small-town minister, and they were all based on events which occurred in her life. A musical titled AIMEE!, by Patrick Young and Bob Ashley was played in 1981. Two musicals about McPherson, Scandalous and Saving Aimee, both by Kathie Lee Gifford, David Friedman, and David Pomeranz, were produced, the former was performed on Broadway, with McPherson being portrayed by Carolee Carmello. An Evangelist Drowns (2007), a one-woman play based on McPherson's life, includes fictionalized accounts of relationships with Charlie Chaplin and David Hutton. Spit Shine Glisten (2013), loosely based on the life of McPherson, was performed at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. The musical Vanishing Point, written by Rob Hartmann, Liv Cummins, and Scott Keys, intertwines the lives of evangelist McPherson, aviator Amelia Earhart, and mystery writer Agatha Christie. It was included in the 2010–2011 season at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Aimee married first husband Robert James Semple in 1908.
Currently, Aimee Semple McPherson is 132 years, 1 months and 26 days old. Aimee Semple McPherson will celebrate 133rd birthday on a Monday 9th of October 2023. Below we countdown to Aimee Semple McPherson upcoming birthday.