The story of the Canadian Foursquare Church began with the life of a woman evangelist born in Ingersoll, Ontario in 1890. After losing her husband to Malaria while serving as a missionary in Hong Kong, Aimee Semple McPherson returned to North America where God stirred her heart with a mighty passion for evangelism. In response Aimee spent years working her way through America preaching in tent meetings, churches and wherever she could find or create an opening for the Gospel. She was undeterred by the opposition she faced as a woman preacher, the hardships of the road or the challenges of finding financial support for her work.
Eventually thousands came to hear Aimee’s gifted preaching and many saw or experienced the signs that accompanied her ministry.
One biographer wrote:
"It would be convenient if we could find some evidence that Sister Aimee's miraculous healings were faked for the benefit of publicity; but there is no such evidence. Alas, the documentation is overwhelming: very sick people came to Sister Aimee by the tens of thousands, blind, deaf, paralyzed. Many were healed, some temporarily, some forever. "(Epstein, 111)
Through it all Aimee’s focus was on her love for Jesus and on her dedication to the work that he had called her to. The Foursquare message that she preached was very Christocentric:
Jesus our Saviour, Jesus our Healer, Jesus our Baptizer with the Holy Spirit and Jesus our Soon-coming King. The theme verse she chose for the movement also centered on our Lord:
“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
People reported that Aimee’s preaching made Jesus very real to them and they could sense His presence as she spoke.
In 1923 Aimee dedicated the opening of Angeles Temple, her 5,000 seat center of ministry in Los Angeles.
Here Aimee preached illustrated sermons accompanied by full stage sets and casts of actors. She created such a stir that even Hollywood actors came out to hear her. Aimee’s cutting edge approach to ministry also led her to open a radio station, start a Bible College and open a commissary to care for the poor. During the depression years Angeles Temple was known as the place where anyone could get a meal, no questions asked.
Although a truly remarkable woman in her own right, Aimee’s Semple McPherson’s greatest impact came through the lives of those she inspired and those who were trained through the Foursquare Church she founded. Since Aimee’s day the Foursquare church has spread through these men and women into 136 nations. In 2012 over 2.3 million salvations were reported through the ministries these people founded. Some of the Foursquare national church movements are among the fastest growing church movements in the world today.
The inscription Sister Aimee had carved into the cornerstone of Angeles Temple – “dedicated unto the cause of interdenominational and worldwide evangelism” – continues to strike a chord within the hearts of Foursquare ministers today.
One of the ministers inspired by Aimee and trained by the Foursquare bible college in Los Angeles was a woman by the name of Anna D. Britton. In 1927 she moved to Vancouver, BC and went to work establishing L.I.F.E. Bible College of Canada and planting a church that grew to include 1,000 believers. She initiated church plants within the three western provinces of Canada and served as their supervisor for many years. The Foursquare church in Canada continued to grow as a district of the U.S. church until 1981, when a change in requirements by the Canadian government led the Foursquare churches in Canada to be incorporated together as a national church.
This national church has been led by presidents Dr. Victor Gardner (1981-1992), Tim Peterson (1992-2007), Dr. Barry Buzza (2007-2012) and Steve Falkiner (2012-present).