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Aimee Semple McPherson

Aimee Semple McPherson who was she and what did she do?  Well she appears to be more than the average woman of her time.  Her life began simple enough in 1890 in Salford, Ontario, Canada.  Her parents both were involved strongly in the Salvation Army and raised her in a strict Christian household. Aimee rebelled against the strict ridged Christian teaching of the time. She wanted to understand God and for Him to be able to answer some of her questions. Then in 1908 Aimee took her father to hear the evangelist preaching of Robert Semple. His preaching seemed to have affected her spiritually and mentally because after three of Semple’s sermons she decided to commit her life to God and to marry Robert Semple. Together they moved to China as missionaries. Tragically while Aimee was eight month pregnant her husband dies of malaria. Her mother then sent for her and her daughter to return to America. (Taylor),(Lewis).

After living with her mother she then moves to New York City in 1912 where she meets her second husband Harold McPherson. Aimee and Harold then have a son in 1913. Then in 1914 Aimee becomes very ill and while she was in a near comma state that she heard a voice that asked her "will you go?" and she answered "yes".  After saying "yes" she wakes up and in two weeks is fully recovered. ("Aimee Semple McPherson").  She regards this experience as a "calling" and takes her family to the open road preaching out of a 1912 Packard touring car that she called several names such as the "rolling church", and the "gospel car". The car was painted with religious slogans such as "Jesus is coming soon-Get ready", and "Where will you spend eternity". Crowds would form wherever she went to watch and listen to the woman who preached from the back of her "gospel car".  (Taylor).

Then as her "calling" pushed her on she begins to print and publish the paper "The Bridal Call". But, her newfound success and traveling caused problems in her marriage, which led to their divorce in 1921. With Howard out of the picture, she devoted herself fully to her "calling". In 1923 with the contributions from her followers she builds the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, California. Later that year she creates the L. I. F. E. Bible College. The college attracted many students and teachers, with almost one thousand students attending in 1926. (Lawrence).

Aimee appeared always to be searching for new and modern ways to reach the people so in 1924 she started radio station KFSG (Kall Four Square Gospel). The radio station was a hit. People would gather in their homes and listen to her broadcasted sermons. Through this venture Aimee became the first woman the FCC granted a commercial license to. In the church Aimee captured her audience by performing her sermons in dramatic costumes and stage plays with elaborate props and scenery. She even brought contemporary music and jazz into her church. Her faith healings were also very popular and brought many followers to her "message of salvation".  ("Aimee Semple McPherson"), (United States).

Yet, in the height of her life in May 1926 a tragic mystery strikes her life. While swimming in the ocean she disappears and is assumed drown after a massive search is performed. Many mourned what they thought was her death. But on June 26, 1926 her mother received a ransom note asking for a half a million dollars to be paid or her daughter would be "sold into white slavery". The ransom was not paid because at the same time Aimee surfaced in Mexico. But when she made it home she was faced with disbelief, scandal, humiliation, gossip, and a Grand Jury Investigation. The papers and reporters who once praised her now turned against her. What really happed is still a mystery. The charges were dropped and she returned to the church with more popularity than before. Then in 1931 scandal arises once again when she marries David Hutton. David was ten years younger than Aimee and a member of the Angelus Temple. Their marriage though did not last longer than three years and they were divorced in 1934.  (Campbell),(Taylor).

Ten years later in 1944 the world loses Aimee Semple McPherson. She is pronounced dead after what coroners claim to be an accidental overdose. Yet, controversy remains on whether or not it was suicide. Many mysteries surround Aimee Semple McPherson’s life even her death. (Taylor).

Page by, Kristen Dirksen
Copyright © 2003
Revised: 12/15/03.