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International Church of the Foursquare Gospel

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Title: International Church of the Foursquare Gospel  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Aimee Semple McPherson, Angelus Temple, Open Bible Standard Churches, Jack W. Hayford, Full Gospel
Collection: Arminianism, Christian Denominations Established in the 20Th Century, Christianity in Los Angeles, California, Christianity in Nigeria, Evangelical Denominations in North America, Finished Work Pentecostals, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Members of the National Association of Evangelicals, Pentecostal Denominations, Pentecostalism in the United States, Religious Organizations Based in the United States, Religious Organizations Established in 1927
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

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
Region Worldwide
Founder Aimee Semple McPherson
Origin 1923 Los Angeles, California
Congregations 60,000
Members 8 million

The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, commonly referred to as the Foursquare Church, is a Protestant evangelical Pentecostal Christian denomination founded in 1923 by preacher Aimee Semple McPherson. 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.


  • Name 1
  • Beliefs 2
  • Structure 3
    • Local churches 3.1
  • History 4
    • Founding 4.1
    • Developments after Aimee Semple McPherson 4.2
  • North America 5
    • Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada 5.1
  • Nigeria 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


The church's name refers to the four-fold ministry of Jesus Christ as Savior, Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, Healer, and Soon-coming King.[3]


The beliefs of the Foursquare Church are expressed in its Declaration of Faith, compiled by its founder Aimee Semple McPherson.[4] McPherson also authored a shorter, more concise creedal statement.[5]

The church believes in the verbal inspiration of the Bible, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the deity of Jesus Christ.[6] It believes that human beings were created in the image of God but, because of the Fall, are naturally depraved and sinful.[7] It believes in the substitutionary atonement accomplished by the death of Christ. The church teaches that salvation is by grace through faith and not by good works.[8] Believers are justified by faith and born again upon repentance and acceptance of Christ as Lord and king.[9] Consistent with its belief in human free will, the Foursquare Church also teaches that it is possible for a believer to backslide or commit apostasy.[10]

The Foursquare Church teaches that sanctification is a continual process of spiritual growth.[11] Christian perfection and holiness can be attained through surrender and consecration to God. This spiritual growth is believed to be promoted by Bible study and prayer.[12] The Foursquare Church believes in the baptism with the Holy Spirit as an event separate from conversion that empowers the individual and the wider church to fulfill the church's mission of evangelization. The Foursquare Church expects Spirit baptism to be received in the same manner as recorded in the Book of Acts, namely that the believer will speak in tongues.[13] The evidence of the Spirit-filled life is the Fruit of the Spirit. The church believes that spiritual gifts continue in operation for the edification of the church.[14]

The Foursquare Church believes that divine healing is a part of Christ’s atonement. It teaches that the sick can be healed in response to prayer.[15] The Foursquare Church anticipates a premillennial return of Christ to earth.[16] It believes that there will be a future final judgement where the righteous will receive everlasting life and the wicked everlasting punishment. The Foursquare Church observes believer's baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion as ordinances.[17] Open communion is practiced.[18] Anointing of the sick and tithing are practiced as well.[19]


The Foursquare Convention is the chief decision making body of the Foursquare Church. Meeting regularly every two years, the convention's voting membership includes international officers and licensed ministers. Each Foursquare church located in the United States has the right to send one voting delegate per every 50 church members.[20] National Foursquare Churches outside of the United States may send one official delegate to the convention.[21]

A board of 12 to 20 directors manages the Foursquare Church. In addition to overseeing the Church's activities, the board of directors appoints officers and is responsible for licensing and ordaining ministers. Members of the board include the president, vice presidents, and at least nine ministers representing geographic regions. Church members in good standing may also be appointed to the board.[22]

Local churches

Local Foursquare churches are subordinate parts of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and are operated according to the bylaws of the international church. There are two categories of Foursquare churches.[23] A "charter member church" is a member church that has no legal existence apart from the international church and whose property is owned by the international church. The second category is "covenant member church", which include "pioneer churches" and previously non-member churches. Pioneer churches are recently established church plants that have not been upgraded to charter member status. Covenant member churches might also be previously non-member churches that join the Foursquare Church but choose not to transfer their real property to the international church.[24]

Non-member churches may choose to affiliate with the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel without becoming a full member of the international church. These "community member churches" retain their separate legal identities and autonomy. They are not under the control or authority of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and they license or ordain their own ministers. Community member churches affiliate with the Foursquare Church "on a relational basis of shared principles, endeavors, goals and purpose". This relationship between the international church and the community member church can be terminated by either party with or without cause.[25] Members of community member churches are not members of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.[26]



Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944), an evangelist known as "Sister Aimee," founded the Foursquare Church in 1923. Los Angeles was her center of operations, and Angelus Temple, seating 5,300 people, was opened in Echo Park in 1923. McPherson was a flamboyant celebrity in her day, 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.[27][28]

Developments after Aimee Semple McPherson

After Aimee Semple McPherson's death in 1944, her son Rolf K. McPherson became president and leader of the church, a position he held for 44 years.[29] Under his leadership, the denomination grew from around 400 churches to over 10,000. 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. 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.[30]

In October 2003, under Risser's tenure, the church sold Los Angeles radio station KFSG-FM to the Spanish Broadcasting System for $250 million.[31] 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.[32] Risser resigned his leadership position under fire in March 2004.

Dr. Jack W. Hayford, founder of The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, California served as the president of the Foursquare Church from 2004 to 2009. Hayford 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 continued survival in spite of its staggering financial losses estimated at $15 million under the failed leadership of Paul Risser.[33]

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.[34] "Church Multiplication" also supports the house church movement through resources that support the expansion of "Foursquare Simple Church Networks."[35]

Dr. Glenn Burris Jr. has held the position of president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel since June 2009. In 2014, facts came to light that under Burris' leadership, the Church lost yet another $2 million in a failed investment of a Broadway play based on the life of Aimee McPherson.

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 (2014) serves as General Supervisor, and she generously and fairly rewards the church leadership for their diligent day-to-day efforts.

Two colleges are affiliated with the Foursquare Church. 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

Over 30 churches from Louisiana and Mississippi are said to be formalizing into the Foursquare Church as of October, 2010.

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.[36] 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 1955 through the ministry of Rev. & Mrs Harold Curtis who established the LIFE Theological Seminary at Herbert Macurley Road, Yaba, Lagos.[37] The missionary couples trained a group of young boys and taught them the doctrines of Foursquare as contained in the 22 tenets of faith of the movement.[37] Today, the church is the second largest in Nigeria. The church is currently headed by Rev. Felix Meduoye in Nigeria.[37]

See also


  1. ^ "Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches"2008 . 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. ^ "Our Purpose", International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Accessed January 11, 2013.
  4. ^ Declaration of Faith of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Accessed January 11, 2013.
  5. ^ Creedal Statements of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Accessed January 11, 2013.
  6. ^ ICFG Creedal Statements 1-3
  7. ^ III. The Fall of Man, ICFG Declaration of Faith.
  8. ^ ICFG Creedal Statements 9.
  9. ^ VI. Repentance and Acceptance and VII. The New Birth, ICFG Declaration of Faith.
  10. ^ ICFG Creedal Statements 24.
  11. ^ VIII. Daily Christian Life, ICFG Declaration of Faith.
  12. ^ ICFG Creedal Statements 25-27.
  13. ^ X. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, ICFG Declaration of Faith.
  14. ^ XII. The Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit, ICFG Declaration of Faith.
  15. ^ XIV. Divine Healing, ICFG Declaration of Faith.
  16. ^ ICFG Creedal Statements 36.
  17. ^ IX. Water Baptism and the Lord's Supper, ICFG Declaration of Faith.
  18. ^ ICFG Creedal Statements 14 and 23.
  19. ^ ICFG Creedal Statements 10, 11, 21.
  20. ^ Foursquare Church Bylaws 2012 edition, Article V 5.5, p. 7.
  21. ^ Foursquare Church Bylaws, Article XVIIII, p. 46.
  22. ^ Foursquare Church Bylaws, Article VI, pp. 9-12.
  23. ^ Foursquare Church Bylaws, Article III 3.3, p. 3.
  24. ^ Foursquare Church Bylaws, Article III 3.8 A-B, p. 4.
  25. ^ Foursquare Church Bylaws, Article III 3.8 C, p. 5.
  26. ^ Foursquare Church Bylaws, Article IV, p. 5.
  27. ^ The Kidnapping of Aimee Semple McPherson, from the "Los Angeles: Past, Present & Future" Project at the website of the University of Southern California libraries
  28. ^ Wins Best Independent Film"Aimee Semple McPherson".  
  29. ^ a b "Our History". Victoria Foursquare Church website. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  30. ^ "September 13–15, 2002 Retreat Details". Archived from the original on December 15, 2004. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  31. ^ Lattin, Don (2004-06-05). "Popular evangelist elected to head Foursquare Church".  
  32. ^ Lattin, Don (2004-06-03). "Foursquare sinner forgiven: Former president's investing may have cost church $15 million".  
  33. ^ "History: 1944-Present". Church's official website. Archived from the original on 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  34. ^ "Church Multiplication: Missional Conversation". 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. 
  35. ^ "Church Multiplication: Simple Church". 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. 
  36. ^ The Canadian Foursquare Church
  37. ^ a b c source needed

Further reading

  • 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.
  • Daniel Mark Epstein. Sister Aimee

External links

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