top of page

Sister Aimee Semple McPherson? Big Light of Faith, Truth & Love

Sister Aimee Semple McPherson?  Big Light of Faith, Truth & Love
“Sister Aimee” brought the Gospel to millions and was the elist in America. She lived her life 100% for Jesus.

“Everybody’s Sister” brought the Gospel to millions and was the most well-known person in America during the 1920s and 1930s. I have written about her before, ON THE BLOG and before that in my book, SPIRITUAL LIVES.

Her position in that book comes shortly after the lives of two enemies of the Gospel, Harry Emerson Fosdick, the champion of modernism and enemy of “fundamentalism,” and Margaret Sanger, the champion of abortion and enemy of “the tyranny of Christianity.”

God raised up another woman to champion His Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That amazing ambassador for TRUTH was Aimee Semple McPherson, widely known to those who love her as “Sister Aimee.”

While Fosdick and Sanger moved in elite, liberal circles, Sister Aimee was “Everybody’s Sister.” Born on a farm in Ontario, she grew up in the Salvation Army.

Sister Aimee: the Canadian years in the Salvation Army

Aimee was born into a Christian family, her father a Methodist, and her mother was an active member of the Salvation Army. Aimee played “Salvation Army” with her mom and learned its methods, music, and ministry. One of their marching songs became a model for her life:

Who are these in town and city With their music, song, and drum Lifting up the name of Jesus In the alley, street, and slum?
‘Tis the Army of Salvation, ‘Tis the Army of the Lord. On to conquer every nation With the mighty two-edged sword.

Albert Edward Webber, 1887

Professor Edith L. Blumhofer uses this song to open her book, AIMEE SEMPLE MCPHERSON, EVERYBODY’S SISTER. The song is prophetic. Aimee’s heartbeat was in tune with that drum and her spirit filled with this music.

Hers was a martial life, she a warrior from her youth. She gave her life to Jesus and spent it seeking to lift Him up.

Her first skirmish in this came when she wrote against using taxpayer funds to teach evolution in Canadian schools. She wrote that this was dethroning God as Creator and undermining Christian teaching.

Her letter struck a chord with the people of Canada, received national attention, and encouraged her to continue her fight against evolution for the rest of her life.

But she was not against things, only against sin, because sin kept people from Jesus. When the small Salvation Army group she belonged to grew to 120 converts, the local newspaper remarked:

It may be estimated that there remain about 3,471 more sinners upon whom the Army can, with advantage to the community, exercise a regenerating influence. Blumhofer, 37

This desire to win souls for Jesus became the driving force in Sister Aimee’s life. But first, she wanted the power Jesus promised His disciples as He ascended into heaven. She began praying earnestly, declining dramatic events that she and her mother loved, to seek Jesus with all her heart.

Sister Aimee finds Pentecost

When she was seventeen, Aimee was baptized with the Holy Ghost. She spoke in tongues after her diligent seeking brought the Holy Ghost power Jesus promised. In defiance of her mother’s wishes, she began to attend the Pentecostal mission and soon after married the minister, Robert Semple.

They studied the Bible together and were “in one accord in one place.”
He had the gift of speaking in tongues and she the gift of interpretation.

Sister Aimee goes on the Great Commission

Robert and Aimee dedicated themselves and their marriage to the Lord and followed His call to be missionaries to China. Shortly after they arrived in Hong Kong, they came down with malaria. He died, but she recovered, now a widow at 19 who soon gave birth to a daughter, Roberta.

Aimee’s mother sent her the fare for a return voyage to America, and she took her infant daughter with her, started a Sunday school aboard ship, and held evening services for the passengers.
She was on fire for Jesus.

Sister Aimee renews her commission

When she returned to America, she settled in with her mother in New York and resumed working with the Salvation Army. She married Harold McPherson and resisted a call to preach.

When she found herself deathly ill in the hospital, she heard these words: “Now will you go?”
When she responded, “Yes, Lord,” she was immediately healed and began preaching.

Sister Aimee drives the Gospel Car

Aimee and Harold outfitted a Gospel Car with Bible verses and began their ministry with tent meetings:

What is my task? To get the gospel around the world in the shortest possible time to every man and woman and child.

That Packard convertible had a simple question painted across its doors: Where will you spend ETERNITY? Blumhofer p 118

The Lord has given us a Gospel automobile with which we are able to hold eight or ten meetings a day distributing thousands of tracts and handbills and carrying big signs of tent meetings. Sister Aimee, 1917

These were lean days for them financially. Sometimes they had to fish for their supper, but on they went, full of joy and the Spirit of the Lord.

She was a dramatic and anointed preacher: One reporter went on record with this:

“Never did I hear such language from a human being. Without one moment’s intermission, she would talk from an hour to an hour and a half, holding her audience spellbound.” — a REPORTER’S DESCRIPTION

She discovered a gift for divine healing when she answered a request for prayer by laying hands on a woman who was immediately healed. She got up out of the wheelchair and walked under her own power.

As the healing ministry grew, Sister Aimee set up a special healing tent, where thousands came for prayer.
The press credited her with more secularly verified healing than any other healing ministry.

She was criticized for this but saw the powerful effect the healings had not only on those healed but on those who witnessed the healings:

When they see and hear such miracles…. they are jolted from their indifference and complacency…. there is nothing left to do but believe.
Involuntarily they clap their hands and weep and cry Hallelujah! Just like other folks – wouldn’t be human if they didn’t.
And soon this living, loving Christ of Galilee has won their hearts and they rise to follow and worship Him. Blumhofer p 166

She was a woman of the people, bold and fearless, going into saloons and playing the piano and singing Gospel songs. When she got to Los Angeles, she was a great hit and filled every venue. She used some of her Salvation Army training to make every service exciting. YOU CAN SEE ONE HERE:

Wikipedia reports: Though McPherson condemned theater and film as the devil’s workshop, its techniques were co-opted. She became the first woman evangelist to adopt cinematic methods to avoid dreary church services.

Serious messages were delivered in a humorous tone. Animals were frequently incorporated.
McPherson gave up to 22 sermons a week, including lavish Sunday night services so large that extra TROLLEYS and police were needed to help route the traffic through Echo Park.

Sister Aimee finds the Foursquare Gospel

Sister Aimee preached the Bible and the “Old Time Religion.” When she ministered in San Diego, she adapted the words to “it is good for San Diego, and its good enough for me.”

She renamed her message as the Foursquare Gospel:

Jesus the Savior, Jesus the Healer, Jesus the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, and Jesus the Soon-Coming King.

She wrote this song to celebrate:

We’ll hold the Foursquare banner high. And beneath its folds we’ll life and die! May it proudly wave, ‘til Christ’s power to save Leaps each bounding ocean wave.
Then let our banner be unfurled. Forward march to all the world, And forth the Foursquare message pour ‘til He reigns from shore to shore.

Aimee Semple McPherson, 1935

She insisted on making the Gospel real in people’s everyday lives. “True Christianity is not only to be good but to do good.”

Sister Aimee builds Angelus Temple

In 1923 Angelus Temple was dedicated and became the largest congregation in America.

Built at a cost of the then huge sum of $250,000 ($4.2 million in 2022), it became the first “megachurch.” It seated 5300, had “10,000 enrollments” and over forty million visitors during the first seven years.

Sister Aimee builds a denomination

Sister Aimer also established the International Foursquare Church and set up a Bible College to train ministers to share the Foursquare Gospel around the world. As of 2016, there are 1,700 U.S. congregations and 66,000 worldwide with eight million members.

Sister Aimee becomes the most famous person in America

Through her radio broadcasts, magazine, and high media visibility, she was the most well-known person in America in the 1929s and 1930s. Millions loved her but many hated her as well.

The liberal churches hated her message and “fundamentalism,” the conservative churches her flamboyance, speaking in tongues and healing ministry.

Her status as a woman minister outraged many, as did her marital status and multiple divorces. A mysterious kidnapping attracted national attention and gave her even higher visibility. Alleged affairs and drug use were rumored. She became tabloid material.

Despite this, Sister Aimee continued to preach. In her last national revival tour, 1933–1934, two million persons heard 336 sermons.

The Boston Evening Traveler newspaper reported:

Aimee’s religion is a religion of joy. There is happiness in it. Her voice is easy to listen to.
She does not appeal to the brain and try to hammer religion into the heads of her audience…
Fundamentally she takes the whole Bible literally, from cover to cover.

She used to sing a song we learned in Sunday school at Emmanuel Pentecostal Church in Elizabeth, NJ in the 1950s:

We’re a happy lot of people, yes, we are! We’re a happy lot of people, yes, we are! For our sins are all forgiven and we’re on our way to heaven, We’re a happy lot of people, yes, we are!

It was, I believe, the joy of the Holy Ghost that carried her on and on, knowing that Jesus was with her all the way.

O’er my head the lightning flashes, Dark’ning clouds the heavens fill: But I’m sheltered ‘neath the cross tree, In the center of God’s will. There I fear no power of darkness For tho’ man the body kill, Yet my soul shall live forever In the center of God’s will.

Aimee Semple McPherson, 1935

Sister Aimee finishes her course

Suddenly, on September 27, 1944, Sister Aimee died. Her funeral was held at Angelus Temple on her 54th birthday, October 9, 1944.

45,000 people waited in long lines, some until 2 a.m., to file past the evangelist, whose body lay in state for three days at the Temple.
It later took 11 trucks to transport the $50,000 worth of flowers to the cemetery.

Though they had left McPherson’s employ on bad terms, her former assistant pastor Rheba Crawford Splivalo, daughter Roberta, and her mother Mildred Kennedy were also in attendance.

An observer, MARCUS BACH, WROTE:

A thousand ministers of the Foursquare Gospel paid their tearful tribute. The curious stood by impressed.
The poor who had always been fed at Angelus were there, the lost who had been spirit-filled, the healed, the faithful here they were eager to immortalize the Ontario farm girl who loved the Lord.

Millions of dollars passed through McPherson’s hands. However, when her personal estate was calculated, it amounted to $10,000.

Sister Aimee: Amazing Ambassador for Truth

God chose this Ontario farm girl to be the greatest soul-winner of the 20th century. She met Jesus as a girl and gave Him all her heart.

He anointed her as the most powerful and joyful preacher/evangelist of our time, and she was full of the Holy Ghost.
You can sense this as your read her tracts or listen to her sermons. She had the wonderful words of life.

Her journey was not an easy one. She faced severe challenges, sickness, loss of loved ones, and enemies on the left and the right.

Her character and integrity were constantly attacked so that to this day her amazing record of preaching to thousands and winning thousands for Jesus is overlooked by unbelievers while her kidnapping, divorces, and allegations of infidelity are center stage in the worldly press.

Jesus uses imperfect people, like St. Paul and John Alexander Dowie, and He has used Aimee Semple McPherson mightily.

Her ministry and Foursquare Church are her legacies. She celebrated the Pentecostal message and sparked worldwide revivals that have continued to this day. What a blessing she has been to me as I spent time with her this week.

78 years after her death, I think of that verse about Abel in Hebrews 11, about champions of faith, “He being dead yet speaketh.”
This is true about Sister Aimee Semple McPherson.

I am looking forward to seeing her in heaven, although I expect her place to be much closer to Jesus than most of ours. Until then, I will think of her with joy and imagine it is her voice I hear every time I hear this song:


Jesus has a table spread Where the saints of God are fed, He invites His CHOSEN people, Come and dine; With His manna He doth feed And supplies our every need: O ’tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!
Refrain Come and dine, the Master calleth, Come and dine; You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time; He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine, To the hungry calleth now, Come and dine.
The disciples came to land, Thus obeying Christ’s command, For the Master called unto them, Come and dine; There they found their heart’s desire, Bread and fish upon the fire; Thus He satisfies the hungry every time. Refrain
Soon the Lamb will take His BRIDE To be ever at His side, All the host of Heaven will assembled be; O ’twill be a glorious sight, All the saints in spotless white; And with Jesus they will feast eternally.


Come and dine. John 21:12

Aimee Semple McPherson’s favorite song.

listen here or sing along!

41 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page