History of the Foursquare Church

The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel developed out of the evangelistic, ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson. But while she became the Founder of the movement, she would have been the first to repudiate the idea that she originated the Foursquare message. Though the Foursquare movement, like all other Pentecostal and Full Gospel organizations, commenced in the twentieth century, the Foursquare message in Bible days.

The aim of our goal is nothing less than to recover for the present-day-church all the benefits and blessings which crowned with glory the apostolic church. The Foursquare Gospel, succinctly spoken, is man released from the hold of sin, redeemed to be all he was originally intended to be empowered to offensively permeate this planet with resurrection life, and infused with the hope of the imminent return of the King.

It was in the uplifting of Jesus Christ as the answer to every human need that the very expression "Foursquare Gospel" originated Sister McPherson had proclaimed the Foursquare message for about fourteen years before she suddenly grasped the term "Foursquare" to describe that gospel. The inspiration came from Oakland, California in late July 1922 during her final revival campaign in the United States during the opening of the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles.

When this phrase "Foursquare Gospel" was born, Sister McPherson was unaware how prominently the word "Foursquare" appeared in the Scriptures. Further study showed that the expression begins in the Bible with the description of the Foursquare altar in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament and ends with the surveying of the Foursquare City in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.

When Everett and Ruth Denison landed in Manila in mid-January 1949, little did they know that they were the forerunners of a movement that was to spread all over the Philippines. Today, fifty years later, the Church of the Foursquare Gospel in the Philippines is one of the major religious denominations in the country, making great strides in the areas of evangelism, missions, church planting, and leadership training.

The Denisons did not actually start with nothing; before their arrival, there were already five congregations in Luzon and one in Iloilo City associated with the Foursquare Church in the United States. These were started by early Filipino balikbayans who were converted and trained in Angelus Temple, the denomination's central church in Los Angeles, California. Notable among these early pioneers were Vicente De Fante, Sr., of Iloilo City, Gregorio Ilawan of Cavite and David Abrogena of Ilocos Norte. They were a motley group, however, with virtually no contacts with each other. It took the Denisons to coordinate these works, formally register with the government in 1949, and provide leadership for a coherent pioneering effort.

Denison established Calvary Foursquare Church in Manila which soon became the center of coordination. Churches and outstations multiplied. Tiny Tots Kindergarten was established alongside the Manila church and later on developed into what is now Manila Christian Day School, an event that presaged widespread Foursquare involvement with Christian Schools and Christian Education. Before this period ended, the first national convention was held, bringing together almost 80 Foursquare churches nationwide.

This period was one of phenomenal church growth and expansion. The denomination made dramatic inroads into the island of Mindanao and the Visayas region so much so that by this time, over half of all Foursquare churches were located outside of Luzon. International Foursquare headquarters deployed additional missionary units in strategic regional centers. Expatriate missionaries were, however, feverishly "working themselves out of their jobs" by mentoring national leaders who were to form the backbone of Filipino leadership in a few years. By the end r: this period, there were over 200 churches, 3 Bible Colleges, and 2 Christian Schools. Impressed by the results of so few missionaries with meagre resources, James Montgomery wrote his book on the Foursquare Church, "New Testament Fire in the Philippines."

In 1973, a year ahead of the termination of the Laurel-Langley Agreement which granted parity rights to Americans, the Church of the Foursquare Gospel in the Philippines registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a religious corporation with a Filipino President, Ernesto B. Lagasca. It was one of the first major denominations to nationalize leadership, and the stage was set for greater growth as an indigenous movement. Younger leaders were trained and mentored, enabling the leadership structure to be fine-tuned. New districts were organized and r.vo more Bible Colleges were opened. This period was also characterized by the emerging missions awareness of the denomination as shown by the fact that during this time, six missionary units were sent to Japan, Korea, and Papua New Guinea. A strong missions program was supported by a sound infrastructure that enabled the denomination to sustain church growth on the home front while maintaining its commitments overseas. This period ended with 568 churches all over the country.

The Foursquare Church in the Philippines was poised for greater growth, though not as phenomenal as that of early years. One more Bible school was opened with three of the six schools engaging in active extension programs, taking training opportunities to population centers. Soon the care and welfare of workers were addressed by the denomination, giving birth to the Workers Benevolent Fund that has benefited its members in numerous ways, realizing that the cutting edge of the movement has been evangelism and church planting, church growth strategies and programs were instituted. New districts were created by dividing the existing ones and spreading leadership. As of December 1998, there were 1200 Foursquare churches nationwide manned by 2000 credentialed ministers. The latest church growth program, Harvest Plan 2002 foresees that number topping 1350 by the end of this year. At present, there are 14 missionary units serving in Thailand, Hongkong, Papua New Guinea and Spain. The denomination also maintains a limited but active presence among some of the Muslims in Mindanao, and among several tribal groups in different regions of the Philippines.

As the Church of the Foursquare Gospel in the Philippines celebrated its Golden Jubilee, there was much to thank God for. Convening its delegates and friends at the University of the Philippines and at the Araneta Coliseum on April 14-18, the denomination rose up as one with the theme, "Gintong Alay sa Maykapal... Isang Pagdiriwang." Led by its then president, Dr. Felipe S. Ferrez Jr., and graced by the then International President of the Foursquare Church, Paul C. Risser, the occasion served to highlight the great advances of the past and tremendous opportunities of the future.

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