There may be few better examples of truth being “best caught not taught” than in Foursquare’s rich heritage of multigenerational ministry. Talk to members of families who trace a line of service back to The Foursquare Church’s earliest days, and two things ring loud and clear: the powerful example of godly parents and the ongoing impact of Sister Aimee.
INTERNATIONAL SERVICE: THE EDWARDS FAMILY
Though he was the third generation in his family to grow up on the mission field, in Panama and Venezuela, Jonathan Edwards says there was “never any pressure” to follow in the family footsteps. “It was always something personal and to be celebrated—that we were part of something bigger, called the kingdom of God,” recalls the executive pastor of The Sanctuary (Canyon Country Foursquare Church) in Santa Clarita, Calif.
“We believed very strongly in prayer,” adds grandfather Leland Edwards. “It has been that way down through the generations. It was the call of God on our lives.”
As with other longtime Foursquare families, the origins of that call can be traced back to an encounter with Sister Aimee. After visiting one of her tent meetings and being inspired by what they heard and the miracles they saw, Leland’s parents attended the first service of Angelus Temple in 1923 and later were among the church’s first missionaries.
Baptized by Sister Aimee as a youngster, Leland later translated for her when she visited Panama, where he was continuing the work begun by his father. Later serving as director of Foursquare Missions International for more than 20 years, until retirement, he continues to evangelize and disciple others through his Facebook messages, Skype and emails.
GROWING UP FOURSQUARE: THE JAMESON FAMILY
George Jameson recalls growing up at Angelus Temple, after his parents attended one of Sister Aimee’s revival meetings in San Francisco and decided that the family needed to be part of her church.
He often ran the spotlight when Sister Aimee preached, and he appeared in some of her famed illustrated sermons. He chuckles when he recounts being the only witness to a healing when Sister Aimee prayed for a man with a broken leg outside Angelus Temple one day.
“It was never mentioned in church,” he notes, “because miracles were so commonplace.”
Though retired, he continues to preach and teach, sharing his memories of Foursquare’s origins.
“It is very important for them to hear,” he says, noting how it is easy to lose sight of how radical Sister Aimee’s ministry was in its time. “Some of the young ministers don’t even know the stories, and they are absolutely shocked when they hear about how the church grew.”
Having pastored in six states and seen his son and granddaughter follow him into the ministry, George attributes the “wonderful legacy” to “the environment in which we grew up. It was lived in the home—our life was to serve Christ.”
Larry Jameson echoes his father’s words. “Humility and honoring the Lord creates an environment that allows families to live out their God-given potential,” says the senior pastor of Lifegate (Downey Ave./Paramount Foursquare Church) in Paramount, Calif. He and Debbie, his wife and co-pastor, have seen their children become the family’s fifth generation in ministry—daughter Carly Gomez as a children’s pastor, and son Lucas in lay service.
“There are some great sides to ministry, but it is not always easy,” Larry comments. “Unless you are called, it can kill you.” A reminder of that calling hangs on his office wall, but the ministerial credentials are not his. They belong to his great-grandfather, ordained by Sister Aimee in 1924, and they serve as “a reminder of my roots, my heritage—what God has done in our family.”
By: Andy Butcher, a freelance writer living in the Orlando, Fla., area