Aimee Semple McPherson The Greatest Woman of the Twentieth Century

Brand new critically acclaimed movie, Aimee Semple McPherson,
on the life of The Greatest Woman Of The Twentieth Century


Written by Rasa Von Werder
September 19, 2004

Aimee Semple McPherson could be remembered for many things. First, the greatest faith healer who ever lived. God's power anointed her to heal hundreds of thousands of people. She was the first woman to drive coast to coast in the early 1900's - before roads were built - in a big old car preaching, and living in a tent by the car. She did not go alone. She had her two children with her who she took care of, and she even published a magazine while on the road! She did all this with little help. First husband McPherson went with her, but then he declared the evangelical life wasn't for him and quit it and her. She went on with the help of her mother - who was only sixteen years older than her.

In those early years she had no itinerary. She trusted God would move her to preach wherever she went. She preached at street gatherings, both to white and to black. She preached under the tent she carried. She went from town to town WITHOUT INVITATIONS OR PLANS and somehow, some way found venues. She crisscrossed the United States many times, through all sorts of weather, changing tires herself on this big old roadster. This is before they had rubber tires, and with no paved roads the trips were hazardous, rough and rocky.


Aimee, 1915
On a farm in Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada. Her mother, Minnie Kennedy, on her knees consecrated this child to God's service before birth. They participated in the Methodist and Salvation Army religions, the latter of which could have been a role model for Aimee in the area of female preachers. The outlandish, heretical Salvation Army preached total equality for the sexes.



How did she get the guts to do all this? The anointing. She tried to fight it, but finally gave in. God has a way of dealing with souls that resist Her call. Aimee got so sick resisting she almost died. God said to her,


And go she did!

She could be remembered for that.

She could also be remembered as the first woman TO OWN HER OWN RADIO STATION. (Feb. 1924 Radio KFSG, first ALL RELIGIOUS radio station in the world, and she owned it!)


Robert & Aimee Semple, Chicago, 1910

Aimee prodded her Dad to see this interesting young evangelist. As they sat there his dazzling way of speaking gripped her heart and filled her with the fear of God's wrath. She RAN out of the auditorium. Her intense, emotional conversion soon followed. Not only was she born again, but thereafter filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit. A few weeks later she was sitting up with some sick children when Robert Semple entered, also on a mission to sit up with the sick children. They spoke about God. He was feeling her out. She said she'd do anything for The Lord and go anywhere. It just so happened he was on his way to China. He said,

"Aimee, I love you...will you marry me and go with me to China?"

A lump in her throat, she kneeled with him and prayed about it. As her eyes closed she saw them both going on a long journey. Opened eyes and closed eyes and saw again, herself on a journey ALONE. She was eight months pregnant when Robert died in Hong Kong, gave birth to her baby and returned alone. She said that Robert Semple was the greatest school of evangelism she'd ever known. She learned much from him in the two blessed years they had together.



She had become a great celebrity while on the road. She launched into the deep. Bigger venues were opened to her because wherever she went souls were saved and big healings occurred. She was a phenomenon, and money came in, as it always does behind a healer.

She then opened the LARGEST STANDING TABERNACLE IN THE WORLD across Echo Park in Los Angeles. (Angelus Temple groundbreaking Feb. 1921, opening New Year's 1923) It's still in working order today. She could be remembered for that. This stadium held 7,000 people in one round room, with two huge stages where Aimee had double choirs. (In a recent photo it did not pass me that the Temple is ROUND and DOMED - both symbols of THE FEMMININE DIVINE!) As she wafted onto the stage, one lady said she was the most beautiful woman she'd ever seen.


Angelus Temple was a singular creation, a phenomenon for its time, completely designed and paid for by the work of Rev. McPherson. As she travelled and preached she sent money to the builders, the first part being $5,000. for the foundation. It held 7,000 people for each service, and Sundays her "Illustrated Sermons" reached 21,000. The radio station broadcasted religious programming 24/7 - the first of such in the world, and she was the first woman ever to own her own station.



It seemed no disease could resist the touch of Aimee Semple McPherson; no ailment, no handicap could stand before her. Blind eyes saw, deaf ears heard, crippled walked, a woman asked for teeth and WITHIN THREE WEEKS A BURNING SENSATION STARTED A WHOLE BRAND NEW SET OF TEETH IN HER MOUTH, a man bent for forty years stood straight, a man WITH NO EYES HAD WHIRLPOOLS OF LIGHT CIRCLING HIS SOCKETS AND EYES WERE FORMED. It was unbelievable. She had dozens of healer helpers, but the power from God was strongest in her. God had chosen Aimee and Aimee listened.

They seated and ministered to 21,000 people every Sunday at the tabernacle. During the depression, Aimee fed hundreds of thousands. She had her radio station going 24/7 and 10% of Los Angeles belonged to her Church!(God had appeared to her in Los Angeles and said,



Aimee & Her Children, 1917
Boston Gardens, 1933
By an ironice twist, Roberta, the child of holy Robert Semple turned against her mother. Rolf, the child of backslider Harold McPherson, stayed loyal and faithful to his Mom throughout. He's alive and well today and was recently interviewed at the Angelus Temple, speaking lovingly about Mom....1933 to 1934 was the last national tour of Sister Aimee. She produced two of her own operas and published another book after that.

She danced all night in the Spirit, crying and singing, and all the hairpins fell out of her hair.

She was the Queen of the Front Page. She was on it every other day. People wanted to know about her more than about anyone else. The papers wrote about her because she sold papers.

In spite of all this, how does the world remember Rev. McPherson? I've done a little research on her through several books and internet. One site, which is a sort of "fan" site, called her,

"The most tragic woman in America."

Tragic? I don't think so. The only tragedy I see is not in her, but in the media which fails to remember her accurately. The tragedy is that people aren't learning about her, admiring and emulating her. She's a Sheroe that we need for the young women. But if you're a woman.........History is written by men.

Attention women: As long as we live in a Patriarchy, you will be written out. Only the salacious, the prurient, the lies and exaggerations will be recorded for you. Mostly they will write you out, but if you are included, it'll be for evil. Women get publicity when they stand in the shadow of men. It gives the impression that our only importance is there. And so, mistresses of Kings and Princes and femme fatales who dated famous men get attention. Most - not all - self made women get the screws. There are millions of women that have been screwed out of recognition by Patriarchy. It's like they built this whole world all by themselves, and women just went from bedroom to kitchen? It didn't happen that way. Women had at least an equal part of history in the world, but their lives are pushed into the margins EVEN WHEN THEY DID THINGS GREATER THAN MEN. WHOEVER CONTROLS THE MEDIA CONTROLS HISTORY. WHOEVER RECORDS, WRITES WHAT HAPPENS, WRITES WHATEVER HE WANTS.

So then, how is she remembered?


Sister Aimee had a joyful childhood, filled with positive activities and education. But the adulthood of the world's most famous evangelist/faith healer has to be rough. She got to know the Cross of Christ in many ways. Her mother was an interfering, grabby bitch. Her third husband, David Hutton, a three-hundred pound baritone, had dollar signs in his eyes when he married her. They tie the knot one month after her nervous breakdown. The Don Juan was not sitting idly while he waited for Ms. McPherson. Aimee had to pay off one woman for "breach of contract," and scores of others were claiming the same. He was told by the police in Ohio to disappear as he was getting not only verbally, but physically violent with her. Why did she marry such a creep? She was human. Her Mom and both her kids got married and went off, and she suffered from loneliness; not because nobody was around her but because no one was close to her, and this scoundrel was the only one who asked...They were divorced after three years....Toward the end of her life she and the Church were hit with 52 lawsuits. Her most famous sermon at that time was "Attar of Roses," which symbolized the suffering and Blood of Jesus, and the essence of the Holy Spirit. She understood what pain was.

When her ministry was in full bloom, her Church flourishing and bringing in tons of money, her name in headlines every day, she was kidnapped. ( May 18, 1926 ) It had happened before and she was released (apparently kidnapping was more common before they they gave it the death penalty) but this one was heinous. It was for ransom.

She was at the beach with her secretary, writing a new sermon. The secretary went to the stand to get some juice. Some people came up to her and said they had a sick baby in the car. Aimee, as usual, went with them eagerly. As she bent over to reach a bundle in the lap of a woman in the back seat, chloroform was put over her mouth and nose and she was pushed in.

When the secretary came back, no Aimee. She thought she saw her in the water, but Aimee did not come back. The search for Aimee was comprehensive. A diver even drowned trying to find her.

Ransom notes were received by Minnie Kennedy, Aimee's mother, but she threw them into the waste basket. Aimee was dead, and they held a big memorial for her.

By the way, you'd be amazed at this fact. Minnie Kennedy was probably not overwhelmed with grief at her daughter's demise. She was one of several people who desired to take Aimee's Church away from her! She had plotted and failed. Now Aimee was gone, she could have what she wanted; the money that went with the Church. That's what everyone wanted - the money. It's hard to imagine that a mother would do that to her own daughter - but I've heard worse. Minnie said,

"If you left the Church in Aimee's hands, she'd bankrupt it!"


Everything about Aimee Semple McPherson was positive. She had a heart of Gold, and she never judged or condemned anyone. She was soft on sinners - nothing like the fundamentalists of today. (She was blacklisted by the Assemblies of God Church because of her divorce.) She had the purest, kindest soul imaginable. Her only desire was to do good, help souls and bring them to Eternal Life. Few ministers in the past and few today, contain a heart as Pure as hers was. As usual, those who are as successful as she, are the subjects of great jealousy, and it's the other ministers that are the most jealous. And of course, she was a woman, so you cannot expect men to raise up her legend to the public. The male ministers are too busy promoting themselves to give her a word of praise.


And bankrupt it she did! Aimee could collect lots of money, but she didn't manage it. She gave, and gave, and gave. Minnie was another story. When Minnie died she left $300,000. (Today that would be MILLIONS.) When Aimee died, she had no personal wealth.

When all the hoopla was said and done AIMEE REAPPEARED.

She walked in from the desert at Agua Prieta (near Douglas, Arizona) on June 23, 1926.

Now the torture really began. She had been kidnapped, drugged, made ill with whatever would contribute to her eventual death, escaped from the shack where she was tied up for almost five weeks, and instead of the Press feeling sorry for her THEY TURN HER INTO A VILLAIN. They began writing the stories that would say things like:



Whoever the bunglers were who investigated the case, they could find no evidence of where she had been. Instead of believing her, they fueled, along with all the nitwits that helped, endless stories of what could she have done, and why, and where had she been...all circling around the suspicion of immorality. Then she was sued, on Sept. 16, 1926, for CORRUPTION OF MORALS and OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE! The case was soon dismissed, but this CRAP is remembered first and foremost to the person seeking her legend. It's like the SHIT GLOWS LIKE A NEON SIGN, where the truth lies hidden, as if it mattered little.

The best book I have found on Aimee Semple McPherson is by Daniel Mark Epstein - "Sister Aimee."



Sister Aimee published her own magazine, The Bridle Call, which went national, instituted the L.I.F.E. Bible College, owned her own religious radio station, published incredible books like This is That. She was so great the woman should be known by the whole world.

No one that I know of, male or female, has matched her accomplishments in the area of spirituality success. She was a spiritual genius.



I also recommend highly the Roberts Liardon biography on video of Ms. McPherson from Spirit/Life Bible College in Laguna Hills, California. 949-833-3555.



Now back to the label of "tragic person." What is a tragic person?

Someone who failed to fulfill their promise. Someone who was given something great and turned it away. Someone who was a coward when being brave could have given them the whole world and God....Someone who died before they lived. Someone who had a wonderful gift coming, but died of despair in waiting for it. These are tragedies. Aimee Semple McPherson fulfilled her promise. She was anointed by God and ran with it, being a wonder woman and pioneer on many levels, the greatest Sheroe of the 20th Century. If she was a tragic figure because she suffered and died, then Jesus was tragic, and Joan of Arc was tragic, and all His martyrs and saints were tragic.

What fools these mortals be! The great saints live, and they suffer, and they die. Their lives are heroic and glorious. They go from glory to glory, even when they've been crucified and vilified, burned at the stake and torn apart by lions. Saints get ABUSED. They are battered and bruised, maligned and slandered. Every saint gets it sooner or later. Some get it in the beginning, early in life, and some get it late. Aimee got her worst crosses late. But she had done her work, won her victories, proved God's Truth. What more do you expect from a human being?

Let us bless Our God who created and anointed Aimee Semple McPherson. May her glorious legend go on forever!




You might not understand my devotion to Our Lady fully, but I will explain it to you, and I know you will understand and not be offended. We are not in league against Jesus in any way!

About Our Lady: In the understanding of the Catholic Church, Our Lady is the partner of Jesus. Far from equals, as Jesus is God and She a mortal, but She the supereminent of all mortals. That's the Catholic Church. I see Jesus and Mary as Avatars, as equals. If you are bothered by this, please humor me and don't let it ruin our friendship. But I cannot lie to you or pretend about my beliefs! It's right there in black and white on the Rasa site anyway. Devotion to Mary in the beginning to me, as a child, was the spiritual Mother, the symbol of the Great Nurturer. Jesus was my Father figure as a child, later an intimate friend, and eventually, Spouse because I was willing to die with Him. Mary became not only the Mother of my soul, but also my body, and replaced, in my psyche, the physical mother who mentally/emotionally abused me to the point that she wished me dead. (I have not allowed my pains to turn me into a bitter, hateful monster. God has given me grace to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones...I can't wait to write my life story depicting what God has done with the pains and abuse.) There is so much I have learned! I am proud of my STRIPES! I will not hide them nor be ashamed of them. I am One with Jesus, and what Glory there is in the Cross! The pains are never an excuse for continued sin (although they might cause momentary sin) or an excuse for failure or becoming a twisted, perverted person. Pains are like weights. They are resistance training. You come up against a stumbling block. It resists your path. You fight against it, overcome it, think around it, and it becomes a stepping stone. Once again, you have beaten the weight. You got stronger. Your self esteem, confidence, faith and trust get bigger. You are a bigger person......

Today, I have started lifting weights again and am on a perfect diet. I beat the food demon. The story of this is on the site. I hope you at least glance at it and get the idea.

Back to image:

Please check my article on Aimee Semple McPherson. In the beginning she was poor and had scarcely enough money to buy a decent dress for her services. She was a powerhouse but in time, Satan attacked her body and her psyche. Her anointing remained the same (anointing never changes) but anointing has to work through mind, body and soul. Satan cannot take away or change anointing but he can assail your physical self, and he tries every trick there is to cripple the Spiritual Giants. In her case, as in most, it was people wanting her money, and later, the loneliness. Her own mother tried to take away the Church (for the money) and she had over 50 lawsuits at the time of her death, all people wanting the money of the Church. True, she was not practical with money and led the Church to a place of bankruptcy - but that was because PEOPLE WERE CONNING HER OUT OF MONEY ALL THE TIME. Her mind was only on God, whence she got her POWER. Another "catch 22" situation: Put all mind on God, don't care about material things. God gives power. Money comes. People all want the money. People don't help, they harm. Now Church is in danger of bankruptcy." Had she had ONE FRIEND which could have been her mother, that friend could have taken care of the material matters and let Aimee take care of the spiritual. BUT HER MOTHER DID NOT HELP AT THAT POINT BUT WANTED TO TAKE AWAY THE CHURCH TO EXPLOIT IT, so Aimee was without a true friend. Aimee was WORN DOWN AND OUT by these physical assaults and problems and suffered a bad emotional breakdown. She spent her last years recovering from what Satan and people had done to her, and died much too young, by a combination of illness during the kidnapping ordeal and medication for sleep.

What I noticed about her image was this: In the beginning she looked beautiful but toward the end, when she was assaulted so terribly, she was looking like a super-glamorous movie star instead of a minister, and she did not give the image of her true self. It was as if she had deteriorated spiritually or was confused, and became too wordly in her image. She wore, for instance, a wide-brimmed hat cocked to the side, and a thick fox collar around her neck, and a slinky dress. No longer looked like the great faith healer as she depicted in the past! To me, the glamour was a bad sign, not a good one. She was beautiful enough before, and this was TOO MUCH.

Back to me: The only person I can think of I could model myself on would be Aimee. It's a big undertaking, a big role model, but God can do anything. It's all in the GRACE. It's not money, it's grace. With grace, anything is possible. With grace, Aimee started the first all-religious 24/7 religious station OF ALL TIME. With grace (the money was from grace) she built the world's largest free-standing TEMPLE. She was the most famous and talked-about woman of her time. Her legend has not continued to the degree it should have, because of PEOPLE. Because of people not loving great women, perhaps. In a Patriarchal society, only male icons are venerated. Female icons are buried to be forgotten. I truly believe that. It serves Patriarchy to reinforce male role models and to denigrate females (so they just focus on her scandal and the kidnapping that they call spurious) because if you build males up in the past, you make males of today look good. It is truly a conspiracy against womankind, to keep women under control of males. Now to the next big question.....You said why not ask God what God wants me to do? I have, and this is what God said, more or less, over the years:

"I have sent you to planet Earth to be a role model for women. You will break through difficulties and pave the way for others, weaker and less sure of themselves. Let them go through the door so women can get a foothold of power. I want women to become strong and to stop wars. Men will never do so. Save the planet means restore the power of women because women - and women alone - will be the instruments of God in stopping wars. Bring peace to the planet, stop pollution, stop overpopulation, stop destruction of animals and habitat and environment. Women must control governments and economic systems, with like-minded men at their sides. Men will never, never do what God wants when they are in a position of power. YOUR SPECIFIC ROLE, MY CHILD, IS FEMALE EMPOWERMENT. How you arrive at that is trying more and more and at each step of the way. I will either slap your wrist or give you grace to continue. But you must try, and keep trying. Be strong and never give up and do not fear death or any type of disaster or failure. Fear nothing but loss of your intimacy with God, and you will succeed. I predict, I assure you that you will succeed. What you have done so far is only the beginning. Jesus and Mary are your intimates, and all the Avatars and saints of all religions are rooting for you. God will do miracles. There will be miracles of healing and publicity and success. It's too hard to figure out in detail what will happen, because God will do miracles as the scenario opens up. There are many contingencies, and God will not interfere with anyone's free will unless it's a life and death situation. Just keep moving, keep praying, and everything will happen.....You, my daughter, will finally be happy. Your entire life has been incredible pain, but because of this pain, you will help alleviate the pain of many people. Go, and be glad you are chosen by God.....Amen"



October 9,1890
Salford, Ontario, Canada

September 27, 1944
Oakland, California

Lies buried in Los Angeles, California







Personal Experiences Sermons and Writings of Aimee Semple McPherson
The best book on the market on Aimee Semple McPherson according to RVW
Aimee Semple McPherson is the superstar of the 12 God's Generals as chronicled by Roberts Liardon.
Foursquare Publications
1910 W. Sunset Blvd,
Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
15 East Street
New York, NY 10010

Spirit/Life Bible College
in Laguna Hills, California.


Daniel Mark Epstein, SISTER AIMEE : THE LIFE OF AIMEE SEMPLE MCPHERSON, is a poet, essayist and playwright. Among the awards he has received are the Prix de Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Robert Frost Prize. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.


© 2004 - 2006 RASA VON WERDER