Of all of the denominations covered in turn by Your Worship, the Foursquare Church is one of the least known. Nonetheless, this Pentecostal denomination has, according to the central Foursquare Church, over 5 million members worldwide. Although in practice the Foursquare Church is very similar to many other Christian groups, its history is unusual.
It was founded, to begin with, by a woman – something very rare in the history of religion. Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the church, experienced an epiphany of sorts at the age of 17. In 1918, then 28 years old, she settled in Los Angeles, where she began to engage in religious and charitable works. Within five years she had dedicated the Foursquare Church’s first house of worship, a testament both to the strength of her belief and to her extraordinary persistence.
In the past eighty-five years, the Foursquare Church has grown to an unbelievable degree, while continuing to adhere to and expand upon the Foursquare Gospel, McPherson’s original doctrine. This Gospel, unsurprisingly contained within four main points, “represents the four-fold ministries of Jesus,” according to the Foursquare Church. These four ministries are the Savior, the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, the Healer, and the Soon-Coming King; each of these, for Foursquare worshippers, represents one of the aspects of Jesus. The Foursquare Church also organizes new ministries into four stages of development, echoing this theme. The number four, in this denomination, is symbolic of balance, and is an important component of the Foursquare Church’s philosophy.
The major belief held by members of this denomination, however, is the accuracy of the Bible as a source of knowledge and lifestyle. Each of the Foursquare Church’s doctrinal points is explicitly drawn from and supported by a passage from the Bible; this denomination seems to be, if nothing else, very organized and very clear on the precise sources for each of their beliefs.
In contrast to some more pessimistic Christian groups, the Foursquare church also holds one very hopeful belief: that the souls of those who believe will be saved through grace, and not by chance. In other words, every repentant believer will receive mercy from God, rather than judgment. It’s a very Christian and very optimistic view of the world.
There are three Foursquare Churches in the Santa Barbara area, listed below.