Aimee Semple McPherson

Evangelist

Born: 9 October 1890
Died: 27 September 1944 (drug overdose)
Birthplace: Ontario, Canada
Best known as:

The popular 1920s preacher who disappeared

Aimee Semple McPherson was the popular traveling evangelist who founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. At age 17 she married traveling Pentecostal minister Robert Semple; after his death two years later she remarried and then became an evangelist herself. As her popularity grew she settled in Los Angeles, where she raised money and in 1923 built the 5500-seat Angelus Temple. Her services mixed Jerusalem and Hollywood, with bands, choirs and other crowd-pleasing touches enhancing her dynamic preaching. Radio broadcasts increased her audience and made her a national phenomenon. Public interest peaked when "Sister Aimee" disappeared while swimming near Venice, California on 18 May 1926. After a month of mystery and rumors, she reappeared suddenly in Arizona, claiming to have been kidnapped and held hostage in the Mexican desert. The police clearly doubted McPherson's story but could prove nothing. The incident, along with a later remarriage and divorce, tarnished McPherson's reputation. She continued preaching but was less in the public eye, and died in 1944 while visiting Oakland for the dedication of a new Foursquare church.

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