Biography of Famous Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson Part 2

About the famous American preacher and spiritual leader Aimee Semple McPherson, biography and history of the church evangelical.


Unfortunately, no one was available to rescue Sister Aimee when she herself needed it most. After reaching her peak in 1925, she was soon to suffer a spectacular fall from grace. In mid-May of 1926, Aimee drove to a hotel facing the Pacific Ocean, changed to a swimsuit, and then sat on the beach, working on a sermon. Her secretary left for a short while, and when she returned Sister Aimee had disappeared. The supposition was that the great revivalist had gone out for a swim, suffered a cramp or some other difficulty, and drowned.

Thousands of the faithful camped along the sands while boats patrolled offshore, searching for a clue. One grief-stricken girl actually committed suicide. A young man jumped into the water, shouting, "I'm going after her," and drowned. A professional diver died of exhaustion.

Meanwhile, both police and newsmen scoured the West for some clue to Sister Aimee's fate. For a month, every lead brought authorities to a dead end. Then, on the 31st day, a ransom note was delivered to the Angelus Temple. It stated that Sister Aimee had been kidnapped, and would be released in exchange for $500,000.

The following day--at one o'clock in the morning, to be exact--Sister Aimee suddenly turned up in the Mexican border town of Agua Prieta. She confirmed that she had been abducted from the beach, held prisoner in a remote desert shack, and had finally escaped through a window and stumbled for miles across burning desert sands to safety.

The police were suspicious. She showed no evidence of captivity or flight. Her dress was neat, her pale skin untouched by the desert sun. Reporters, equally suspicious, began chasing clues. It quickly became obvious that Sister Aimee, who had been divorced by her husband a few years before, had been having an affair with one Kenneth Ormiston, the operator of her radio station. Coincidentally, her lover had disappeared from sight the very same day that Aimee had vanished from the California beach.

When the Los Angeles district attorney launched a formal investigation, conclusive evidence was found to show that during the time of her alleged captivity, Sister Aimee and her married lover, Ormiston, had indeed been seen together in several hotels and at a seaside cottage. The district attorney was about to start criminal proceedings against Aimee when her friend William Randolph Hearst, the publishing tycoon, intervened on her behalf and got the charges dropped.

When the facts were eventually made public, Sister Aimee's popular appeal fell off dramatically. The great evangelist now appeared to be a "woman with a past." Nevertheless, Aimee struggled to continue her career and regain her former image. Love came again to Aimee at the age of 40, but 2 days after her marriage to roly-poly Dave Hutton, he was sued by another female for breach of promise. Aimee fainted, fell, and hit her head on some flagstones, and after her recovery the couple was divorced.

Through all these troubles, a sizable number of the Foursquare faithful stood by Sister Aimee; her services at the Angelus Temple continued to provide one of the best shows in town. Her popularity, though greatly diminished, continued into the 1940s.

On a September evening in 1944, Sister Aimee spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in Oakland, California. The next morning she was found unconscious in her hotel room and died soon afterward. Then came sad news. The coroner's verdict was that Sister Aimee had died from an overdose of sleeping pills.

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