History & Heritage
From humble beginnings as a 2-year, single-location college, LPU has grown into the premier 4-year educational institution of the Foursquare denomination, with a bicoastal presence and more than 90 years of heritage serving as its foundation.
In nearly a century of Christ-centered education, LPU remains true to its historic and continuing mission: to prepare and educate leaders entering ministry, including pastoral, missional, bi-vocational, non-traditional, and marketplace ministry. LPU has a rich heritage of helping thousands of students become all that God created them to be – and that history continues to guide our future.
Our story starts over a century ago…
In 1921, famed evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson landed in Southern California after a cross-country road trip. There, she would end up founding The Foursquare Church – and setting in motion LPU’s beginnings.
Angelus Temple, The Foursquare Church’s first place of assembly, opened in Los Angeles in 1923, while 100 ministerial students enrolled at the Echo Park Evangelistic and Missionary Training Institute. That institute moved in 1926 to the complex next door to Angelus Temple, and operated as the International Institute of Foursquare Evangelism, before being renamed L.I.F.E. (Lighthouse of International Foursquare Evangelism). And so… the first iteration of LPU was born, with its first class graduating in April 1925.
LPU went through several evolutions throughout the 20th century, including:
- Adding a 4-year degree program in the 1940s
- Adding the Bachelor of Theology and Bachelor of Religious Education degree programs in the 1950s
- Beginning intercollegiate sports (basketball and baseball) in 1950
- Beginning new campus construction in 1989 and relocating to San Dimas, California
- Building 3 new residence halls, the Roy Hicks, Jr. student center, and Ronald Mehl Court gymnasium from 1990-2003
As LPU neared its century mark, the university knew its potential impact was far greater than just the West Coast, and started the process of expanding east. LPU Virginia initially began on its own, as Ignite Leadership Academy, but was welcomed to the LPU family in 2019.
That same year, LPU also thought ahead to the next era of education and grew its online degree programs – even before much of the world shifted virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, LPU is on a mission to build upon that rich history – with its two physical campuses, virtual degree programs, and an enduring commitment to experiential education, LPU continues to cement its reputation as the elite educational choice for members of the FourSquare denomination.