For 25 years, pastors have been faithfully prepared for ministry by the faculty of Angelus Bible Institute (ABI) in Los Angeles. This June, the number of ABI graduates will top 1,000.

Dr. Harold Helms—former senior pastor of Angelus Temple from 1981-1999 and interim president of The Foursquare Church from August 1, 1997 through June 30, 1998—served as ABI’s first president. Dr. Raymundo Diaz, now ABI chancellor, was the first dean. In addition to the faithful leadership of these two men, Gerardo Goyenaga, Roberto Diaz and Marco Reynoso have also served ABI continuously and with distinction for the past quarter-century.

At the request of the late Dr. Rolf K. McPherson in 1986, ABI held its first classes in English and Spanish in the 500 Room at Angelus Temple, a site renowned for passionate prayer meetings during the ministry of Foursquare Founder Aimee Semple McPherson. Five of the 11 alumnae who made up the first graduating class of ABI still pastor Foursquare churches today.

The 25th ABI graduation on June 26, 2011, will take place in the main auditorium of Angelus Temple. During the ceremony, institute leaders will recognize individuals with 15 and 25 years of service to ABI, and the first-ever Ezra Award will be presented to a benefactor who has been key to the success of the institute.

Since its founding ABI has expanded globally, with more than 20 training centers in California, North Carolina, Florida, Mexico, Argentina and El Salvador. Plans are underway to expand the institute’s presence in Argentina and to establish 30 Bible institutes there during the next six years.

Through a partnership between ABI and Angelus Temple Hispanic Foursquare Church, Eduardo and Marina Vannoni will relocate to Argentina to lead the expansion. Eduardo is currently an assisting minister at Angelus Temple Hispanic Foursquare Church. Additionally, seven institutes are slated to begin training leaders in Guatemala. Other institutes will be planted soon in Las Vegas, Atlanta, and in the Heartland District.

Referring to the upcoming anniversary, ABI President Mario Barahona expressed his gratitude for the longevity of the institute and the way in which ABI graduates have served The Foursquare Church around the world.

“We praise God for the harvest and the continual expansion of ABI,” Mario says. “We deeply honor the past, celebrate the present, and are challenged and hopeful about the future.”

By: Rod Light, an ordained Foursquare minister and educator in Los Angeles