Sister Aimee: Scandalous?

  • Sister Aimee used media and the cutting-edge technology of her day to carry her message across the globe. With that kind of reach, many of the details of her life story remain with us today. Read about Sister Aimee, listen to her sermons, view photographs and more.

    Discover Aimee

Meet the Real Aimee

  • Enjoy articles written by and about Sister Aimee and her work in an era when tremendous forces were changing the face of the globe. These historical insights paint a clearer picture of what it was like to be an early part of the movement Sister Aimee started.

    Remember Aimee

Aimee's Legacy Today

  • Sister Aimee captivated thousands with her dynamic personality and powerful message of hope. Communities around the world are challenged and changed today because of the work she started so many years ago. Learn more about Sister Aimee's lasting legacy.

    Follow Aimee

Aimee's Legacy Today

  • Stay updated on how the life and legacy of Aimee Semple McPherson is still making an impact today.
    Sign-up to receive the monthly Foursquare Leader Update email.


Aimee Semple McPherson

Her Story. About Aimee Semple McPherson.

 

 

A Strong, Charismatic and Complex Woman

Twentieth-century evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson was a woman ahead of her time. In an era when women were not allowed to vote, she refused to leave religion and other “important” pursuits to men.
 

Meet the Real Aimee

Sister Aimee Semple McPherson traveled across the United States and around the globe. She sparked revival, established a major evangelical center in Los Angeles and changed the lives of countless individuals—but behind every public life there is a deeper story. Born in 1890 in a small town in Ontario, Sister Aimee grew up in a Christian home, but during her teen years began to feel conflicted about faith. At the age of 17, however, she attended a revival led by Robert Semple. After three days of fierce uncertainty, she asked the Lord to save her. A year later, she married Robert, and not long after the two set sail for China to serve as missionaries. Tragically, soon after the newlyweds arrived in China, both contracted malaria, and Robert died, leaving Sister Aimee both pregnant and penniless. This event marked one of the major themes of Sister Aimee’s life: God’s working through her while she experienced deep pain.

 

After giving birth to Roberta Star Semple, Sister Aimee joined her mother who was living in New York. Sister Aimee later married Harold McPherson, a Christian businessman, and they had a son, Rolf Kennedy McPherson. Ultimately though, while she and Harold were on an evangelistic campaign in Key West, Florida, he left her. Her third marriage to David Hutton also ended in heartbreak. She had been in Europe recuperating from illness and had no idea that he had filed for divorce until a reporter told her. There was, however, more to Sister Aimee's life than heartbreak.

Overcoming the Odds

Though controversy and pain surrounded Sister Aimee’s three marriages, her love for God continued to grow. She suffered from poor health most of her life, but she overcame these trials and remarkably became the instrument through which God ministered salvation and healing to thousands. The American Medical Association launched an investigation in response to reports of astonishing physical healings, and stated that they were “genuine, beneficial and wonderful.” Notably refusing to bow to the social inequalities of her day, Sister Aimee preached to everyone: the destitute and social elite, men and women, blacks and whites, German and Japanese. She rented large auditoriums to accommodate vast crowds. At one event in San Diego, the National Guard had to be called in to control a crowd of more than 30,000. People would wait in line for hours, even hiding overnight in bathrooms and attics. In Los Angeles Sister Aimee built Angelus Temple where “illustrated sermons” brought the gospel to life in creative ways. She opened a commissary and fed more than 1.5 million people during the Great Depression. She explored new technologies and became the first woman to preach a sermon over the radio.

Aimee’s Kidnapping and Death

As Sister Aimee’s reputation grew, so did the number of threats. In 1926, she was kidnapped and held for ransom. After she escaped from the tiny shack in Mexico where she was being held captive, the media coverage went out of control. Articles circulated which insinuated that Sister Aimee faked the kidnapping to cover up an affair. A district attorney tried to indict Sister Aimee for “conspiracy to commit acts injurious to public morals.” Ultimately, the DA admitted that he couldn’t produce a single witness to testify against her. Sister Aimee’s public image took a beating, but she persevered, publicly asking everyone to forgive her antagonists. God continued to use her for the next decade. Many more thousands of people found healing and salvation in Jesus. While ministering in Mexico in 1943, Sister Aimee contracted an aggressive bacillus that attacked her intestinal tract. On September 27, 1944, a medical tube running to her kidneys ruptured and caused sleep pills, which she regularly took, to be introduced directly into her system. Sister Aimee Semple McPherson passed away as a result.

But the story and legacy of Aimee Semple McPherson continue to this day. Keep reading to learn more about this strong, remarkable and complex woman.
 

“We rejoice in the Lord, that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

—Aimee Semple McPherson
 
 
 

 

Interested in Learning More About Aimee?

There are resources at your fingertips. We’ve compiled a list of a few we think are pretty great. Check out the following for more information on Sister Aimee.
 

Listen

  • Divine Healing

    Circa Feb., 1938
    Sister Aimee captivates even now with her beloved messages. Recently released for the first time, this complete audio recording captures Sister Aimee sharing about what she calls the need for “divine healing.”

  • God Goes to Washington

    Dec. 10, 1939
    In a time of worldwide turmoil, Sister Aimee opens her sermon with a prayer request for revival. She continues with bold statements about her hope for the US and the world.

  • Heaven Can Wait

    Sept. 17, 1939
    Can heaven wait? Sister Aimee had a few thoughts on that. Find out what she had to say by listening to this impassioned sermon in which she recounts past events and current happenings with a great charge for all.

  • Life Begins at Foursquare

    Oct. 30, 1938
    Sister Aimee describes what she calls the Foursquare message in this historical piece peppered with music and references to events of the time.

  • The Un-Ending Trial of
 Aimee Semple McPherson

    This sermon, about Foursquare’s beloved founder and some of the controversy that surrounded her life, delivered by Pastor Jack Hayford, is available for purchase by visiting the Jack Hayford Ministries website.

Read

Watch + Browse

  • Foursquare’s History Page

    Recently updated and expanded to provide context for those interested in Sister Aimee, The Foursquare Church and more, this page is a great place to start an inquiry.

  • Blog Entry From Doug Bursch

    Doug, senior pastor of Evergreen Foursquare Church, and radio host KGNW Seattle shares a first-hand account of his experience with the musical “Scandalous.”

  • American Public Media’s “On Being”

    Check out this radio show from June 2011, which includes audio and video links to rare Aimee Semple McPherson footage.

  • American Experience – Sister Aimee

    This documentary, part of the PBS American Experience television series, aired in 2007 and is currently available on DVD. Visit their webpage for teacher’s resources and more.

  • Disappearance of Aimee (1976)

    This film, available used on VHS, was directed by Anthony Harvey and stars Faye Dunaway and Bette Davis.

  • A Walking Tour of the Parsonage

    Take a trip through the parsonage in Los Angeles by video. This 27-minute tour is narrated by Dean and Lory Jones.

 

Visit

  • The Parsonage of
 Aimee Semple McPherson

    The parsonage has been restored with original furniture, photographs, props, personal artifacts and displays. Modern media tools have transformed memories and memorabilia into a trip back in time, unveiling a portion of the life of Sister McPherson.

    Foursquare Heritage Center

    1801 Park Avenue
    
Los Angeles, CA 90026
    
213.989.4444

    Have questions about the parsonage? Email us.

Articles About and by Aimee

 

Aimee’s Legacy Today

 

 

Continue the Journey

Stay updated on how the life and legacy of Aimee Semple McPherson is still making an impact today. Sign-up to receive the monthly Foursquare Leader Update email.




 

 

For more information on Aimee’s Legacy through The Foursquare Church visit our History section.