EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was adapted from the doctoral dissertation, “Aimee Semple McPherson and Spanish-Speaking Ministry in Los Angeles: Lessons for the 21st-Century Foursquare Church” by Jim Scott, D.Min.
McPherson Mexican Mission
From 1923 until the time of her death in 1944, Aimee Semple McPherson led an intentional missional outreach that resulted in the planting, or adoption and development, of 63 Spanish-speaking congregations. One congregation, the McPherson Mexican Mission, grew to more than 1,000 members, and a number of others were 500 members strong. These congregations trained hundreds of pastors and leaders, and some established strong Bible institutes in California and other states.
The growth of Spanish-speaking ministry was so pronounced in California and elsewhere in the U.S. that divisions had to be created within the existing districts. In 1929, this growth provided the opportunity for the appointment of Rev. A.M. Lopez as the “Pastor in Charge of the Mexican Work in the Southern District” in Texas.
Brother Lopez led a significant Spanish-language conference to celebrate all that God was doing and to cast vision for the future. The call went out to pray that God would raise up more “American Workers” from L.I.F.E. Bible College, who would learn to speak Spanish and go to this “mission field” with the hope of having “at least 100 more Mexican churches within the next year or two.” These were exciting and faith-filled days!
Sister McPherson’s passion to reach and partner with the Spanish-speaking community was experienced in many practical—and for her day, radical—ways. She led a megachurch by any standard, while mobilizing her English-speaking congregation to pray, give and go to the mission field in Los Angeles, effectively creating a cross-cultural component in her local outreach strategy.
The workers who built the facilities for Spanish-speaking congregations frequently came from Angelus Temple. Sister Aimee sounded this call to home missions in the Foursquare Crusader magazine in April 1930:
“We must, we must have a Spanish tabernacle,” she wrote. “The people are hungry for the Word of God and are looking for us to give them the light! Oh, won’t you help me to get to them. Los Angeles is the second largest Mexican city in the world, the largest being Mexico City, Mexico. We have been doing a foreign missionary work and sending out missionaries, but right here in our own city is an opportunity to do as wonderful a work as in foreign fields.”
Spanish-language ministry was increasingly familiar at Angelus Temple, and the first Spanish Department was launched in 1928 under the leadership of Brother Patricio Lopez. Church services and classes were held in Spanish both in the sanctuary and in the auditorium. Foursquare materials and Sister’s sermons were translated into Spanish, as well. La Familia was marvelously celebrated in fall 1929, when the Spanish-speaking congregants were invited to become members of Angelus Temple.
This is Part 2 of 3 in a feature article series.
To read Part 1, detailing Aimee Semple McPherson’s call to reach the city of Los Angeles and the Hispanic community, click here.
To read Part 3, covering the training of students at L.I.F.E. Bible College for Spanish-speaking ministry and church planting, click here.