What a wonderful Christmas! Where in all the world could one go to find a scene equal to that in Angelus Temple this Christmas afternoon? Thousands of boys and girls of all ages filled every available space in the large auditorium. Childish voices rendered praise to the Christ Child of Bethlehem.

Aimee Semple McPherson, evangelist and The Foursquare Church founder, wanted everyone in her city to feel loved at Christmas.

There were the newsboys from the street corners, the boys and girls from the orphanages, and those of the poorest families in the city. Such dear little boys and girls with ragged clothing, wistful eyes and eager faces.

Fleets of motor cars furnished by our own loyal membership, wonderful friends, and motor buses of the transportation companies had been hurrying to and fro throughout the city, bringing their precious loads to the doors of Angelus Temple, then hastening away to some other address to bring still more little boys and girls who otherwise would have had very little, and some no, Christmas cheer whatsoever.

Days when they had not had enough to eat, nights when they had been cold as they lay upon their pallets under scanty covers, those who did not know the joy of a mother’s caress or the greetings of a father as he returned from his work in the evening—all these hardships were forgotten.

Each new group of arrivals was astonished and excited. Ohs and Ahs filled the air as they caught sight of the wreaths, Christmas trees both large and small, the great silver bell in the center with its festoons to the cornice, the smaller bells, the paintings, candles, artificial snow—never did Angelus Temple look more beautiful, more resplendent, than in her Christmas dress this year—from the great illuminated star atop the dome down to the little city of Bethlehem with its manger and the star resting above it.

The great tree was loaded with presents, and the spacious platform, built larger for the occasion, was piled high with toys of every kind and description. Much to the delight of all present, old “Santa’s Sister,” with a “God bless you,” came and distributed the wonderful toys that had been donated from loving hearts everywhere.

The last toy was gone, and the great platform looked deserted save for the beautiful tree with its many lights, when down the aisles trooped 40 little boys and girls—new arrivals. What should be done? There was not even candy and nuts left, for everyone had been given good measure, heaped up and running over.

“Boys and girls,” asked Sister McPherson, “what shall we do? These folks have just arrived, and there isn’t a thing for them!”

“Here, let them have this dolly.”

“Give them this drum—oh, yes, and take this stocking full of candy, fruit and nuts.”

“Here is this little automobile, brother and I can play with the same train.”

In shorter time than you could realize, presents, fruit, candy and nuts came from all over the house, and the new arrivals were just as happy as the rest. Great bundles of clothing were given away: shoes, stockings, dresses, suits, warm undergarments and everything to keep the little people warm, happy and comfortable.

Two little brothers, whose father was dead, came into the office, and the elder asked if his little brother could have a pair of shoes. A child was never happier over the finest, most expensive toy in the largest department store in the great metropolis than that little one as he was fitted with a pair of warm, comfortable shoes. The evangelist, eyes bright with tears, held up the little canvas shoe, displaying a great hole in the toe through which one’s fingers could easily be run, thus showing the urgent need which had been met.

Widows asked for food and clothing—no toys—just wanting the family to have something to eat and to wear. Of course, aside from the needs of the little flocks, toys and candies were supplied.

All week, baskets of food and clothing had been arriving—bread, cookies, celery, fruit, chicken, meat—everything had been given that would make Christmas dinner for the poor and the needy complete. Hundreds and hundreds of baskets of provisions were prepared and dispensed to proper destinations by autos in every section of the city, some of the drivers being out all night and into the early hours of Christmas morning.

Our thousands of boys and girls, Christmas Eve, had brought with them something for the tree the next day. Each of them had helped to render the “Pathway of the Stars” and thus pointed the wanderer through the desert places of life to the Christmas star, which would guide them to the feet of the Christ Child in the lowly manger bed where they could offer their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Each of the dear little boys and girls had received their stockings of candy, nuts and fruits while old Santa, who was so proud of their scripture verses and the wonderful way in which they had all helped, busy as he was just could not help but come and smile upon them, wishing them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, bidding them Godspeed.

Christmas night, the choir, who had been spending months and months in rehearsals together with the Angelus Temple Silver Band, the woodwind ensemble and all the best talent to be found among the world-famed artists, gave to Angelus Temple and everyone listening over radio to KFSG the best of Christmas music.

Such was the Spirit of Christmas in Angelus Temple. Everyone from the oldest to the youngest labored unceasingly to make it an occasion unequaled anywhere in the world by any organization or denomination.

Ah! Not only at Christmastide, with its joy and gladness, is this Spirit present, but Sister McPherson has outlined a wonderful plan whereby we may have a room set aside that will be lined with shelves of canned goods, bins of potatoes, a general fund for fresh foods from the grocery, warm clothing and bedding to be dispatched by our own fleet of motor cars to families who send word that they are in trouble—father out of work or seriously injured, mother sick and children hungry.

Of course, the needs of the family will be investigated and further provisions made, but when children are cold and the baby is crying for milk, no time will be spent in two or three days investigating beforehand. We will go immediately with relief!

Here in Angelus Temple, we are constantly meeting thousands upon thousands every week of the year, and if anyone should have his or her finger on the pulse of the public need, we should, and indeed have. Many, many wonderful things are being done for the poor throughout the city by the already organized charities, but we believe that there is yet room for a different kind of service whereby we may immediately meet a need for clothing, food or covering until some organization can open its arms and take in the needy ones.

This article is adapted from “Spirit of Christmastide,” originally published in the January 1927 issue of our movement’s historical Bridal Call Foursquare magazine.