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The Angelus Temple 2002 Rebirth


The 1924 annual report for Angelus Temple in Los Angeles listed 12,000 saved, 3,000 baptized in water, 3,000 new members, 3,600 healings and thousands filled with the Holy Spirit. The Temple’s early years were filled with revival, and people were touched over and over as miracles took place day after day. This revival led to the incorporation of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in 1927. The movement has grown to worldwide dimensions and is now commonly called the Foursquare church. I have been part of this family of believers since 1979 when I came to California from New Jersey.

The Angelus Temple, Church of the Four Square Gospel, built by Aimee Semple McPherson and dedicated January 1, 1923. The temple is opposite Echo Park, near downtown Los Angeles, California.
Image: 2005 photograph / Wikimedia Commons.

The Foursquare denomination held its 2002 annual convention and 75th Anniversary in Denver. Some 2000 pastors and their mates gathered for four days of fellowship, business and inspiration. With a few exceptions, my wife and I have attended these Foursquare conventions for 20 years.

This year, there was some pre-convention tension in some conversations and in several letters to our President that had been circulated to many attendees. The concern was the recent appointment of 27-year-old Matthew Barnett as the senior pastor of Angelus Temple.

Angelus Temple is close to the heart of Los Angeles. It is across the street from Echo Park, which features a lovely lake just off the Hollywood Freeway. The first service at the Temple was held on January 1, 1923, and included unveiling a plaque that dedicated the Temple to the cause of Interdenominational Worldwide Evangelism.

Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the Foursquare, built this now venerable old sanctuary. Church lore describes 5300 seats that were filled over and over all week long for the first ten years of the Temple’s life. The Temple reached out to help the community while daughter churches sprung up throughout southern California and beyond. During the Great Depression, 1,500,000 people were fed each year through the ministries of the Temple. The Temple impacted ten percent of the population of LA in its early years. Next door a Bible College was built and thrived, peaking in 1929 at 1,000 students. Men and women were there prepared to take the Foursquare Gospel to all corners of the globe.

As the years rolled by, Angelus Temple’s congregation changed from one born out of a miracle revival to an older, well-entrenched group of people who had grown up under Sister’s leadership. Aimee died in 1944, and her son Rolf assumed the leadership of the denomination and the pastorate at the Temple. Rolf McPherson, or “Doc” as he is known in Foursquare circles, later appointed others to pastor the Temple while he concentrated on establishing and building the denomination.

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Category: Church History

About the Author: H. Murray Hohns went home to be with Jesus on November 28, 2012. He was on staff at the largest church in Hawaii and served on his denomination's investment committee from 1999 until his death. Hohns held two degrees in Civil Engineering, an MA in Theology from Fuller Seminary, and served as an instructor at Foursquare's New Hope Christian College (formerly Pacific Rim Christian College) in Honolulu. He wrote six engineering books and hundreds of articles in every type of newspaper, magazine and journal.

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