International Church of the Foursquare Gospel

International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
Jesus Christ the Savior, Baptizer, Healer, Coming King
Classification Protestant
Orientation Pentecostal
Associations Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America
Geographical areas Worldwide
Founder Aimee Semple McPherson
Origin 1927 Los Angeles, California
Congregations 30,000
Members 7 million

The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, commonly referred to as the Foursquare Church, is an evangelical Pentecostal Christian denomination. As of 2000 it had a worldwide membership of over 8,000,000, with almost 60,000 churches in 144 countries. In 2006, membership in the United States was 353,995 in 1,875 churches.[1] While congregations are concentrated along the West Coast, the denomination is well distributed across the United States,[2] The states with the highest membership rates are Oregon, Hawaii, Montana, Washington, and California.[2] The church maintains its headquarters in Los Angeles, California.




Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944), an evangelist known as "Sister Aimee," founded the Foursquare Church in 1927. Los Angeles was her center of operations, and Angelus Temple, seating 5,300 people, was opened in Echo Park in 1923. McPherson was a celebrity, participating in publicity events, such as weekly Sunday parades through the streets of Los Angeles, along with the mayor and movie stars, directly to Angelus Temple. She built the temple, as well as what is now known as Life Pacific College adjacent to it, on the northwest corner of land that she owned in the middle of the city.

McPherson's celebrity status continued after her death, with biopics such as the 1976 Hallmark Hall of Fame drama The Disappearance of Aimee depicting her life, as well as the 2006 independent film Aimee Semple McPherson which particularly focused on her month-long disappearance in May–June 1926 and the legal controversy that followed.[3][4]

Post McPherson history

Her son, Rolf K. McPherson, became president and leader of the church after Aimee Semple McPherson's death in 1944, a position he held for 44 years.[5] Under his leadership, the denomination grew from around 400 churches to over 10,000.[citation needed] The Foursquare Church formed the "Pentecostal Fellowship of North America" in 1948 in Des Moines, Iowa, in an alliance with the Assemblies of God, the Church of God, the Open Bible Standard Churches, the Pentecostal Holiness Church, and others.

Angelus Temple, built by Aimee Semple McPherson and dedicated January 1, 1923. The temple is opposite Echo Park, near downtown Los Angeles, California.

On May 31, 1988, Dr. John R. Holland became the Church's third President, a position he held until July 1997.[5] In 1994, 46 years after the founding of the Pentecostal Fellowship, it was reorganized as the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America after combining with African-American organizations, most significantly the Church of God in Christ.

Dr. Harold Helms served as interim president from July 1997 until July 1998; he was followed by Dr. Paul C. Risser, who became the president on April 16, 1998, at the church's 75th annual convention.[6]

In October 2003, under Risser's tenure, the church sold Los Angeles radio station KFSG-FM to the Spanish Broadcasting System for $250 million.[7] Risser's leadership led to another high-profile controversy for the church, when, without the involvement of the denomination's board of directors and finance council, church funds were invested in firms that targeted the "close-knit evangelical community" but turned out to be Ponzi schemes.[8] Risser resigned his leadership position under fire in March 2004.

Dr. Jack W. Hayford served as the president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel between 2004 and 2009. Hayford is the founder of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California. He, along with Pastors Roy Hicks, Jr. in Eugene, Oregon, Jerry Cook in Gresham, Oregon, Ronald D. Mehl of the Beaverton Foursquare Church in Beaverton, Oregon, and John Holland in Vancouver, British Columbia, have been credited by the church with setting a plan for the denomination's growth in spite of its staggering financial losses under Paul Risser.[9]

Dr. Glenn Burris Jr. has been president the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel since June 2009.

The Foursquare denomination, under Hayford's leadership, is in "Missional Conversation" with the emerging church movement, claimed to be part of a "Church Multiplication" effort.[10] "Church Multiplication" also supports the house church movement through resources that support the expansion of "Foursquare Simple Church Networks."[11]

Church doctrine

The Foursquare Church believes in the following:[12]

  • The Bible as the infallible word of God;
  • The Trinity;
  • The Fall of Man;
  • The Plan of Redemption through the atoning death of Christ for sinners;
  • Salvation through the grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ;
  • The necessity of sincere repentance and acceptance of Christ;
  • The new birth (Sanctification);
  • The daily growth through power, prayer, love and service;
  • Baptism and Communion / Lord's Supper;
  • The baptism of the Holy Spirit;
  • The gifts and fruit of the Spirit;
  • Moderation;
  • Divine healing;
  • The imminent return of Jesus Christ;
  • Church relationship—It is a sacred duty to identify oneself with a congregation of believers to worship God, observe the ordinances of Christ, exhort and support others, labor for the salvation of others, and work together to advance the Lord’s Kingdom;
  • Civil government—Civil government is by divine appointment and civil laws should be upheld at all times except in things opposed to the will of God;
  • Final judgment;
  • Heaven, as the glorious habitation of the living God and the eternal home of born-again believers;
  • Hell, as a place of darkness, deepest sorrow and unquenchable fire, which was not prepared for man but for the devil and his angels, yet also is the place of eternal separation from God for all who reject Christ as Savior;
  • Evangelism emphasized in discipleship;
  • Tithing and offerings;
  • The security of a believer by grace through faith.

Foursquare emphasizes a believer's wholehearted relationship with God through prayer, meditation, and fasting, along with social service for and through Christ.

North America

In the United States, the church is divided into districts, divisions, and individual churches. A General Supervisor oversees the national office and district supervisors; district supervisors oversee divisional superintendents who have oversight of individual churches within the local region. Rev. Tammy Dunahoo currently (2010) serves as General Supervisor.

A number of educational institutions are affiliated with the Foursquare Church. Among these are Life Pacific College, formerly "L. I. F. E. Bible College," in San Dimas, California, and Pacific Life Bible College in Surrey, British Columbia.

The update in the 2008 Foursquare Church Annual Report provides 2007 data of the movement's statistics in the United States, as of April 1, 2008:

  • Salvations: 107,727
  • Water Baptisms: 15,788
  • Holy Spirit Baptisms: 11,221
  • Members and Adherents: 257,357
  • Churches: 1,874
  • Ministries: 6,717
  • Church Plants: 78[citation needed]

Over 30 churches from Louisiana and Mississippi are formalizing into the Foursquare Church.[citation needed]

Former U.S. Senator John Ensign (R-Nevada) is a member of the Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada

Anna D. Britton, a graduate of L.I.F.E. Bible College in Los Angeles, moved to Vancouver, B.C. in 1927, established L.I.F.E. Bible College of Canada in 1928 and grew a small group of believers into a congregation of nearly 1,000, known as Kingsway Foursquare Church. Her vision prompted her to extend the Foursquare Gospel to the three western provinces of Canada over which she served as Supervisor for many years. Other Supervisors of the Western Canada District have been, B.A. McKeown, Clarence Hall, Warren Johnson, Guy Duffield, Charles Baldwin, Harold Wood, Roy Hicks Sr., and John Holland.

Victor Gardner became Supervisor of the Western Canada District in 1974. Eventually, in order to comply with Canadian law, The Western Canada District needed to register all properties in the name of a Canadian Corporation and gain control of all finances as well. Victor Gardner led the development of the Constitution and Bylaws, the Administrative Manual and oversaw the transfer of all the legal documents so on March 5, 1981, the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada (FGCC) came into being.[13] Tim Peterson was President of the FGCC from 1992–2007. His wife, Laurene, also worked in the National Office of FGCC, and together they oversaw the establishment of a healthy corporate structure and developed National Teams.

Barry Buzza, who planted the largest Foursquare Church in Canada, Northside Church, a three-campus church in the Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, and two in Port Coquitlam) in the Vancouver metropolitan area of British Columbia was elected as President on July 1, 2007. His inauguration took place at the FGCC Convention on Thursday, October 25, 2007 at the Chandos Pattison Auditorium in Surrey, British Columbia.


The church has a major presence in Nigeria. It entered Nigeria in the 1950s.[14] It is present in Lagos.[14]

See also


Specific references and footnotes:

  1. ^ "2008 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches". The National Council of Churches. Retrieved 2009-12-16. 
  2. ^ a b "2000 Religious Congregations and Membership Study". Glenmary Research Center. Retrieved 2009-12-16. 
  3. ^ The Kidnapping of Aimee Semple McPherson, from the "Los Angeles: Past, Present & Future" Project at the website of the University of Southern California libraries
  4. ^ "Aimee Semple McPherson Wins Best Independent Film". Press release. 2006-04-16. Retrieved 2008-08-05. "Church officials, led by ICFG President Jack Hayford, released press statements calling the film "misleading" for exploring Aimee's human struggles." 
  5. ^ a b "Our History". Victoria Foursquare Church website. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  6. ^ "September 13–15, 2002 Retreat Details". Retrieved 2008-08-05. [dead link]
  7. ^ Lattin, Don (2004-06-05). "Popular evangelist elected to head Foursquare Church". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  8. ^ Lattin, Don (2004-06-03). "Foursquare sinner forgiven: Former president's investing may have cost church $15 million". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  9. ^ "History: 1944-Present". Church's official website. Archived from the original on 2007-07-31.,3.html. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  10. ^ "Church Multiplication: Missional Conversation".,3.html. Retrieved 2008-08-05. "The missional conversation has arisen as a result of many diverse followers of Jesus re-thinking and re-imagining what it means to be church in the 21st century. We are welcoming this conversation, and as the Spirit leads, inviting all to learn and contribute to what we believe will shape the prophetic future of the church." 
  11. ^ "Church Multiplication: Simple Church".,3.html. Retrieved 2008-08-05. "The main purpose of this site will be to give you a place to connect with others who are hearing God's call to explore the simple church world and to provide you with a growing body of resources pertinent to the simple church journey." 
  12. ^ "Doctrine: The Foursquare Declaration of Faith". Church's official website.,3.html. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  13. ^ The Canadian Foursquare Church
  14. ^ a b

General references:

  • Blunt, D.R. (2008). Religion and Mental Health: Perceptions and Referral Attitudes of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel Ministers in California Toward Counseling and Psychology.
  • Foursquare Gospel Publications. The Foursquare Church Annual Report 2006.
  • Glenmary Research Center. Religious Congregations & Membership in the United States (2000).
  • Mead, Frank S., Samuel S. Hill, and Craig D. Atwood. Handbook of Denominations in the United States.
  • Melton, J. Gordon (Ed.). Encyclopedia of American Religions.
  • Van Cleave, Nathaniel M. The Vine and the Branches: A History of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

External links

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