Former pastor and longtime educator Dorothy Jean Furlong went to be with the Lord on Saturday, Oct. 26. A fixture at L.I.F.E. Bible College (Now called Life Pacific University) in California for 30 years, and L.I.F.E East in Virginia for another 10 years, Dorothy Jean taught many of the men and women who have filled Foursquare pulpits.
She was born in July 1923, the same year that Angelus Temple opened. Later, after enrolling at L.I.F.E. in 1942, she studied under Foursquare’s founder, Aimee Semple McPherson.
“Dorothy Jean Furlong’s roots in The Foursquare Church go all the way back to our beginning,” says Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr. “She was a highly admired and dedicated servant of God who helped prepare countless numbers of men and women for ministry. She was to L.I.F.E. Bible College what Henrietta Mears was to the Hollywood Presbyterian Church. She spent what many would have viewed as ‘retirement years’ by moving east and investing in our students on the campus of Christiansburg, Va. She was an amazingly selfless leader and influencer. Her zeal for the cause of Christ and faithfulness to Christian education left a legacy that will live far into the future.”
“We are deeply grateful for the many years of service and dedication that Dorothy Jean Furlong gave to Life Pacific University,” says LPU President Angie Richey. “Though she retired many years ago, her influence at LPU has carried on through the lives of her former students who have gone on to serve as faculty, leaders, and presidents at the university. She is renowned for the high expectations she set in the classroom and her unwavering determination to see her students rise to any occasion. Dorothy Jean is woven into the fabric of our history and heritage at LPU, and we celebrate the worthy example she has given us for a life well-lived.”
Dorothy Jean grew up under the ministry of Harold and Ione Jeffries, pastors of the Portland, Ore., Foursquare church. After she accepted Jesus as her Savior at age 12, the couple helped inspire her down a ministry path.
In a 2016 article, Dorothy Jean recalled forming a desire for ministry as a 6-year-old child. Some visiting evangelists were staying with her family at the time, and when they asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she told them she wanted to be a preacher.
Dorothy Jean began pursuing that path at L.I.F.E., where she graduated in 1945. She was licensed and ordained in 1946, the year she served as interim pastor of a Canadian church in Esquimalt, B.C.
However, her exposure to Sister McPherson’s ministry also brought a course correction to her original plans. Though impressed by her mentor’s genuine love and concern for people, Dorothy Jean also realized she didn’t have the same gifts.
“My life was influenced and shaped by the ministry of Sister McPherson, although I learned fairly early that I wasn’t called to be an evangelist like her,” she said in her 2016 article. “Preaching new sermons every night of the week was a bit much for me, and I decided that I was a teacher not an evangelist.”
Together with Juanita Conger, Dorothy Jean pastored churches in Canada, Oregon and Idaho. In 1955, she became director of Christian education and choir leader of the Pomona, Calif., Foursquare church.
Dorothy Jean became a part-time faculty member at L.I.F.E. in 1957 and joined the faculty full time in 1960. She was director of the college’s first Christian service department, and also served through the years as director of promotions, director of college relations, executive assistant to the president and academic dean.
As academic dean, she oversaw the faculty and instruction, admissions and records, and represented L.I.F.E. at meetings of the American Association of Bible Colleges. Dorothy Jean developed an excellent reputation for her classes in educational psychology, and principles of administration and supervision.
While at the school, she also produced a film about Sister McPherson titled, From Milk-Pail to Pulpit: The Life Story of Aimee Semple McPherson. She received her Doctor of Divinity degree from L.I.F.E. in 1977, and at the 1988 graduation ceremonies was honored with the title of academic dean emeritus. In 1989, she was invited by Sterling Brackett, president of L.I.F.E. East, to become the Virginia school’s academic dean, a position she held for 10 years.
On Nov. 3 a eulogy in Dorothy Jean’s memory will be read at the Sunday services for residents of The Fountains at the Carlotta in Palm Desert, Calif.
Gifts in honor of Dorothy Jean can be sent to Foursquare Missions Press.