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Foursquare Gospel Church
The mission of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (ICFG) is to present Jesus Christ, God's Son, to every person in every culture and nation as The Redeemer, The Great Physician, The Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, and the Soon-Coming King. Since its founding, in 1923, that vision has been realized through evangelizing the lost and establishing local congregations in the United States and abroad, through the nurturing and training of believers into leadership on all levels of Church life, and in cooperation with other members of the Body of Christ at large in the fellowship of the Gospel and the fulfillment of the Biblical mandate to be "light" and "salt" on the earth.
Today, the Foursquare Church reaches into 99 countries of the world, with 34,350 ministers and workers serving 2,863,232 members and adherents in 24,473 churches and meeting places, as well as 10,987 home meetings. Membership in the United States in 1998 was 238,065 members and adherents, meeting in 1,851 churches. During that year, there were 96 churches started in the United States. There are two Bible colleges in the United States: L.I.F.E. Bible College in Los Angeles, California, and L.I.F.E. Bible College East in Christiansburg, Virginia, as well as 221 Bible schools and institutes in other parts of the world. The Foursquare Church actively participates in the National Association of Evangelicals, The American Bible Society, Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America, the Pentecostal World Conference, and the Evangelical Fellowship of Missions Agencies. Many of its leaders, pastors and members serve on the executive boards and committees of para-church agencies and endeavors, such as the Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization and the America 2000 Outreach.
I.C.F.G. ALSO IS...
INTERNATIONAL in Focus.
On the cornerstone of Angelus Temple, Headquarters church of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, is inscribed, "Dedicated to Interdenominational, Worldwide Evangelism..." Jesus Christ is to be the incarnate Word to this age. The task of the Foursquare Church is to present Him in the language, culture and understanding of every man, woman or child and in every nation. Using 1992 figures supplied by the Lausanne Statistics Task Force, headed by Dr. David Barrett, one out of every 310 believers in Jesus Christ, or one out of every 3,100 inhabitants in the world attend a Foursquare Church. It has been estimated that of every 100 persons who accept Jesus Christ as Savior, one will do so through the ministry of the Foursquare Church. More than 200 people groups previously classified by missiologists as yet "unreached" with the Gospel have been identified and touched by Foursquare evangelism and church planting.
In the 1990s, changing demographics added new dimensions and opportunities to the Foursquare Church in the United States. Because of the immigration of millions of people to the cities of the United States from other nations, many Foursquare churches have been started, with others expanding their previous focus, to provide evangelism and worship opportunities to the "new arrivals." Sub-cultures, such as Baby-Boomers, Baby-Busters, the elderly, as well as the advancement in media technology have called for greater creativity in the presentation of the gospel.
CHRIST-CENTERED in Doctrine.
The "Foursquare Gospel" is a Christ-centered emphasis with a many faceted doctrine. It presents Jesus Christ as Savior of the world, Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, the Great Physician, and the Soon-Coming King. It shares with the entire classical Pentecostal movement the truth of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking with tongues, and in bodily healing in the atonement. It embraces with all Bible-believing churches the full range of Biblical and evangelical truth. Furthermore, its task is to present Christ in the language, culture and understanding of the hearer, rather than of the speaker or church body. Jesus Christ is to be the incarnate Word to this age. The Foursquare Gospel Church is holiness and Trinitarian, proclaiming the Bible as "true, immutable, steadfast and as unchangeable as its author, the Lord Jehovah." Water baptism is by immersion and the Lord's Supper is observed in all churches. Those who are physically sick are healed in answer to the prayer of faith. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is taught as a special enduement of power, promised by God the Father and sent by Jesus Christ to enable the believer for bold witness. The second coming of Christ is taught as imminent "in clouds of glory."
"Foursquare" is a Biblical term used of the tabernacle in the Book of Exodus, of the Temple of the Lord in Ezekiel 40:47, and of Heaven, as described in the Book of the Revelation. The term "Foursquare Gospel" was given in the inspiration of revival to the denomination's founder, Aimee Semple McPherson, during an evangelistic campaign in Oakland, California, in 1922. It represents that which is equally balanced on all sides, established and enduring. Such confidence in the power of the Gospel is also expressed by the verse, Hebrews 13:8, displayed in Foursquare churches proclaiming, "Jesus Christ the Same, Yesterday and Today and Forever."
FLEXIBLE in Ministry.
Official business of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel is conducted by a President, a Board of Directors, the Foursquare Cabinet and an Executive Council. The highest seat of authority is the convention body, which alone has the authority to make or amend the bylaws of the Church. District Supervisors are appointed for districts in the United States, and are ratified by the pastors of the respective districts every four years. The ministry of each local congregation is cared for by a pastor and/or staff, a church council, deacons and deaconesses and elders, and is expected to contribute monthly to home and foreign missionary work. Pastors of local churches are appointed by the Board of Directors upon recommendation of the District Supervisor. Unique and cherished is the principle that both men and women are allowed to minister on all levels of leadership within the Church, including the Foursquare Cabinet and Board of Directors.
On December 30, 1927, just six years following the building and dedication of Angelus Temple by Aimee Semple McPherson and those who had been blessed with her ministry, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel was incorporated and registered in the State of California. Mrs. McPherson served as president of the Church during her lifetime and oversaw the denomination's expansion together with a Board of Directors. Upon her death in 1944, her son, Rolf Kennedy McPherson, became president and faithfully presided in the position until May 31, 1988. Upon Dr. McPherson's retirement from the presidency, the position was filled by Dr. John R. Holland. Dr. Holland served as President until July 31, 1997. Presently, Dr. Paul C. Risser is President, ICFG.
In addition to its aim of worldwide evangelism, the Foursquare Church seeks to develop in its members Spirit-filled, Christlike character, attitudes and obedience to Biblical commands and principles, bringing glory to God. When the local church comes together, it offers praise to the Creator/Savior, celebrates our redemption through grace and communicates the daily mercies of our Lord. The worship pattern of each congregation will be as diverse as its local setting, ethnicity, culture, language, taste in art form and the spiritual development of its members. The goal is that God's presence and power be experienced in the life of the worshipper. For the past seven decades, and most definitely in every major developmental phase of the Body of Christ during that time, members and leaders of the Foursquare Church have been used by God in the composing, arranging and presenting of music, writing and drama which have influenced the worship of the Church worldwide. People such as Aimee Semple McPherson, Phil Kerr, Audrey Meier, James Boersma and Jack Hayford are just a few examples. While maintaining a strict adherence to the preeminence of Christ-centered worship in the life of its congregations, the Foursquare Church has allowed and even encourages freedom of form with the Bible as our standard in its expression.
Such inherent openness and responsiveness to the fresh, creative ministry of the Holy Spirit can also be seen in the diverse ministry strategies found within Foursquare churches. Located in the San Fernando Valley, the First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California (The Church On The Way), is pastored by Dr. Jack Hayford. From a handful of members in the late 1960s, the congregation has now grown to a membership exceeding 9,000 people. The services are highlighted by strong worship and "straightforward, down-to-earth" Bible teaching.
Thirty miles south of The Church On The Way is another dynamic Foursquare church called, "Hope Chapel." Originally started by Rev. Ralph Moore among a nucleus of hippies in the 1970s, the ministry of this church is more relaxed in style, and based on the small group ministry pattern. Alternative, and extremely successful, forms can be seen in the more traditional Valley Christian Center (Foursquare) in Fresno, California and pastored by Roger Whitlow; the racially mixed congregation in Chicago Heights, Illinois, pastored by Greg Howse; the baby-boomer-oriented congregation in the Eastside Foursquare Church near Seattle, Washington and pastored by Jim Hayford; and the outstanding ministries of Ron Mehl and the Beaverton, Oregon Foursquare Church, and Faith Center Foursquare Church, in Eugene Oregon, under the leadership of pastor Steve Overman.
There are more than eighty Hispanic Foursquare churches across North America, including the 1,500 member Hispanic congregation at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, California, pastored by Raymundo Diaz. Churches that minister to the Afro-American community include the Overcoming Faith Foursquare Church in Savannah, Georgia, pastored by Rev. Ricky Temple; the Crenshaw-Imperial Foursquare Church, with Rev. Arthur Gray as pastor; and the Church of the Harvest Foursquare in South Central Los Angeles, California, under the leadership of Rev. Clarence McClendon. Many Korean and Filipino Foursquare congregations have been started, as well as Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Iranian, Armenian, Taiwanese and others.
In addition to the planting of churches, communication has been a priority of the Foursquare Church. The official publication of the movement, the Foursquare World ADVANCE, presently reaches into nearly 100,000 homes, institutions and churches across North America. The Foursquare Church operates KFSG-FM, the longest-operating Christian radio station in North America, and the third radio station commissioned in Los Angeles. Its churches are involved in various television and radio ministries throughout the nation.
Believing that through His suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has provided hope for the whole person, the congregations and members of the Foursquare Church have become active in meeting the social needs within their communities. Such ministries have included social services activities such as food for the needy, emergency aid, care for the suffering, acceptance of the rejected, and responding to the despair of those who have experienced disaster. Many Foursquare churches have organized and conduct Christian schools, ranging in grades from pre-school to secondary. In 1995, the number of day schools operated by Foursquare churches totaled 135. There have also been counseling and support groups provided to those who have unique needs.
Embracing the heritage of its early days, in which its commissary provided food and clothing to more than 1.5 million people during the Great Depression, Angelus Temple presently conducts special commissary services on Friday evenings which provide a message of hope and a hand of help to 1,500 people a week, as well as to more than 100 other agencies.
Foursquare Women International is dedicated to affirming, equipping, mobilizing and releasing the women in the Foursquare Church. The goal is to serve the local church by helping Foursquare women discover their true identity in Christ Jesus, release their gifts in faithful service within their local church, stand together in expressing to their communities and country those values which exalt God and benefit their neighbors, and enjoy the freedom which Christ has given each Spirit-filled woman in her home, church and career. In February 1995, women from across North America and from several other nations gathered in Ft. Worth, Texas for the First Foursquare Women's Leadership Conference.
GROWING in size.
Over the past decade, the number of Foursquare churches in the United States has grown from 1,250 (in 1986) to 1,851 (in 1998). This represents a 47% decatal church growth rate. Members and adherents in the United States number 238,065 and there are 4,900 ministers. The ten largest U.S. congregations are: Beaverton, Oregon; Van Nuys, California (The Church On The Way); East Hill Foursquare Church in Gresham, Oregon ; Billings, Montana; Faith Center in Eugene, Oregon; Valley Bible Foursquare Church in Bakersfield, California; Bend, Oregon Foursquare Church; Valley Community Foursquare Church in El Monte, California; Valley Christian Center in Fresno, California; and the Everett,Washington Foursquare Church.
The size of the Foursquare Church overseas has increased to a total of 22,566 churches and meetings places, serving 2,622,128 members and adherents. There are 104 missionary representatives serving overseas alongside 29,306 national ministers. The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel has established churches in 96 countries outside the United States and Canada. Recognizing Christ's command to "Go into all the World," the 1998 operating missions budget for the U.S. Foursquare Church stands at $5.1 million.
Not surprising is the fact that the Foursquare Church in several nations is larger than the U.S. Church, in number and in size. In the nation of Brazil, there are 8,278 Foursquare churches and meeting places. In 1996, in that country alone, approximately 181,460 people found Christ as Savior. In the city of Mendosa, Argentina, under the ministry of Roberto Prieto, over 50,000 people have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior over the last decade. Thousands more have been physically healed or delivered from demonic forces. In Nigeria, the Foursquare Church not only continues to grow within that nation, but has sent missionaries into many surrounding countries of West Africa. The Foursquare Gospel Church in the Philippine Islands has a determinate strategy of planting new churches at home, while at the same time, the National Church has sent Filipino missionaries to Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Japan and other parts of Asia. The Foursquare Church in the Philippines reports 5,168 established churches and meeting places. The goal of Foursquare missions is four-fold: to evangelize and establish churches in countries where there is no Foursquare witness; to teach and develop leaders in Christian maturity and giftedness; to organize national leadership to serve the Foursquare churches in each respective country; and to partner with those national churches in special support roles and cooperative outreach. Touching the greatest number of people with the least number of missionary personnel, making the most use of its sacrificial missionary giving is a God-given directive for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
The overarching spirit of the Foursquare Church around the world is that of a family, rich in relationships. The attitude of humility, reverence and submission to the Father's will that rises to compassionate concern for others is Jesus' answer for the needs of our world. We seek to present Jesus to this generation in a manner that it can understand, with a message that answers its needs, and with a hope that speaks to its destiny. ICFG has been blessed with an emerging generation of young ministers and leaders who are moving with remarkable understanding and wonderful results in ministry.
Due diligence is also given to the "business" of the Church. ICFG adamantly maintains a conservative policy of business and finance, as well as prudence and accountability in its carrying forth the "work" of the Church.
Above all, the Foursquare Church seeks to maintain Biblical soundness while remaining open to the Holy Spirit in what He is doing in this moment of time to bring forth a fresh birthing of God's calling within us as a Spirit-filled community, as well as ministry to multitudes of hurting men and women.
|Psa 136:1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.