Matthew Sutton on Aimee Semple McPherson
Date: January 17th, 2011

Aimee Semple McPherson undoubtedly ranks high on any list of charismatic, colorful and influential preachers in American history.  As founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a denomination that today claims over 8 million members, McPherson’s impact on the nation’s religious landscape looms large.  Prof. Matthew Sutton, associate professor of history at Washington State University, leads us on a journey through Sister Aimee’s life.  We begin by detailing the era of the 1920s in Los Angeles, California — the environment that McPherson became intimately attached to.  We then rewind the tape to look at Aimee’s birth and childhood in 19th century Canada, then follow her path through two marriages and her arrival in California.  Prof. Sutton discusses Aimee McPherson’s revivalist style, her changes whilst in Los Angeles, and her insertion into a number of the political controversies of the day.  We examine the contrasting life of a divorced female preacher in a conservative, fundamentalist faith tradition.  Our podcast also looks at perhaps the most famous and odd incident in what was an already photogenic life — Aimee McPherson’s alleged kidnapping in 1926.  Prof. Sutton finishes off with his reflections on this vibrant and all-too-human personality.  Recorded: December 28, 2010.


Matthew Sutton’s website at Washington State University.

American Experience: Sister Aimee (PBS Documentary based on Matthew Sutton’s research).

Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America by Matthew Sutton.


Margaret Poloma on Pentecostalism, the Assemblies of God, and Godly Love.

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