How Aimee Semple McPherson influenced my life’s direction

Norma Mourer was a child when her father listened to Aimee Semple McPherson preach on the radio. Little did she know it would lead to a lifetime in Foursquare ministry.

Norma Mourer

When I was a little girl, money was tight, and my family did not have some of the possessions that we might think are essential by today’s standards. Still, we were happy and got along just fine. When someone in the family got sick, we waited to call the doctor until after we called the preacher to pray for divine healing. It was just the thing to do, and no one really thought much about it. God is our Healer, and we believed He would take care of any illness that struck our family.

I was the second oldest of eight children born in Montana to loving parents who worked hard on our 200-acre wheat farm. Our family attended a small, independent, Pentecostal congregation, and my dad constantly sought more of the Lord in his personal life and in his family. One of our luxuries of life was a beautiful crystal set that brought news and entertainment right into our living room. It was through this set that my dad first heard Aimee Semple McPherson preach.

Dad was so taken by Sister McPherson’s messages that he began to pray about relocating our family to be nearer to the ministry she had started, The Foursquare Church, in Los Angeles. Los Angeles was so far away, and a huge unknown for Dad, but I think he would have moved there if God had not provided something closer.

Sister McPherson had visited Portland, Ore., to conduct revivals and crusades. Dad felt it was close enough to Montana that we should go there and become involved in the extension of her ministry that was taking shape in the Northwest. I was probably 7 or 8 when I first experienced one of Sister’s ministry meetings at the Portland Civic Auditorium. People lined up hours before the doors opened just to get a good seat inside.

I remember watching people literally jump over rows of seats to be as near to the front as possible when Sister spoke and prayed for the sick. People who arrived in wheelchairs walked away under their own power after they were anointed with oil and prayed for. Sometimes, people would fall under the power of the Holy Spirit and lie on the floor for a long time until they could get up again. Each time, the person was transformed, either physically or spiritually, or both!

Aimee Semple McPherson signed my graduation diploma and first license to preach. One of the highlights of my days as a student under her tutelage was when I had the opportunity to help her develop a Sunday morning sermon.

My family was instrumental in helping establish the Portland, Ore., Foursquare church, and we especially grew under the ministry of Dr. and Mrs. Harold Jefferies, beloved pastors and district supervisors of the Northwest District of Foursquare Churches.

Dr. Jefferies recognized that countless youth in our congregation were called to full-time ministry but did not have the resources to relocate to L.I.F.E. Bible College (now called Life Pacific University) in Los Angeles. He arranged to open a Northwest branch of the college in Portland to provide much of the same teaching for people who wanted to stay near home while they trained for ministry.

The Portland Campaign (1928)

A handsome young man named Roy Mourer came to Portland from Bellingham, Wash., following God’s call to pastoral ministry. He already had some pastoral experience and was co-pastoring an independent congregation in Portland while he attended college at the Portland Foursquare church.

I met Roy while attending Bible college, and he pursued me until we fell in love. Not only were we ready for our next step in love, but also we were ready for our next step in ministry. The next step was a move to Los Angeles, where we planned to complete our studies at L.I.F.E., graduate and become licensed ministers with Foursquare. So, we married in August in Portland, and enrolled at L.I.F.E. that fall.

Of course, Dr. Jefferies used his influence to introduce us to Sister McPherson and Foursquare leaders in Los Angeles. With Roy’s prior pastoral experience, the organization appointed him to pastor the Foursquare branch church in Montebello, Calif., while we attended day classes at L.I.F.E. This was our life until we both graduated and became ordained preachers.

My prayer for every young minister of the Foursquare Gospel is that you will take every opportunity that God brings your way. Do what God says to do, get the proper training, and then walk through every door God opens before you.

Aimee Semple McPherson signed my graduation diploma and first license to preach. One of the highlights of my days as a student under her tutelage was when I had the opportunity to help her develop a Sunday morning sermon. Our conversations about the sermon were conducted on the telephone, as she was so busy with other assignments. However, she knew exactly what she wanted to speak about and the text she would use.

I remember discussing the text with Sister on the phone and hearing her heart about the passage. From there, she set me loose to develop the outline in whatever way I saw best. Imagine my surprise when I heard Sister preach the following Sunday morning from the exact notes I had prepared. She didn’t change a thing.

Another memory I have about those years at Angelus Temple is when Sister held the microphone for Roy as he preached. He was an animated speaker and liked to move from one side of the platform to the other. A problem arose when people in the audience couldn’t hear him because he stepped away from the podium. Worse, most of the services in that day were broadcast live on KFSG radio, and a speaker standing far from the microphone created dead air on the radio.

I will never forget Sister jumping out of her seat and taking a microphone in hand. She shadowed every move Roy made, making sure his voice was picked up by the microphone so people in the audience and listening on the radio could hear every word.

Roy and I pastored a number of congregations in Southern California and the Northwest, and served as staff pastors with Dr. and Mrs. Jefferies in Portland. With the recommendation of Dr. Jefferies, Roy was appointed as district supervisor of the Foursquare Northwest District of Churches, from 1953-1969. It would be his final assignment until the Lord took him home to heaven in 1969.

Looking back on my life as a Foursquare minister, I recognize how Aimee Semple McPherson influenced me at critical stages. My father wanted my siblings and me to be raised with a deep passion for God and His church, so he moved us to be near the ministry Sister began in the Northwest.

I met Roy because of the Bible college Sister started and from there we spent many wonderful years together spreading the Foursquare Gospel just as Sister had done. The fullness of the Holy Spirit has carried me through good times and bad, and the truth of God’s Word remains steadfast and sure even as my life here on Earth comes to a close.

My prayer for every young minister of the Foursquare Gospel is that you will take every opportunity that God brings your way. Do what God says to do, get the proper training, and then walk through every door God opens before you. You will be glad you did.

(1917-2009) was a longtime Foursquare minister with her husband, Roy. This article is adapted from a video interview conducted in May 2004.
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Comments

  1. Excellent articles. Many of whom I’ve met. I cherish the memories I have of Norma Mourer. She was my first supervisor’s wife.

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