Distinguished Christian Leader Dr. Charles Stanley passed away at the age of 90

 April 20, 2023

Dr. Charles Stanley, revered leader of the Southern Baptist Convention and longstanding pastor of the First Baptist Church in Atlanta, has passed away at the age of  90. Stanley started "In Touch Ministries," which has been known for decades as a leading Christian teaching ministry.

“Dr. Charles F. Stanley, beloved Pastor Emeritus of First Baptist Atlanta, passed away peacefully this morning at home,” the church said in a statement, according to Todd Starns.

“We are forever grateful for his enduring legacy of faithful leadership and spiritual guidance as Senior Pastor of First Baptist of Atlanta for over 50 years.”

The Minister's Work

Stanley, who was known worldwide for his TV and radio broadcasts, modeled his 65 years of ministry after the apostle Paul's message in Acts 20:24: “Life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love.”

As he often noted, Stanley preached practical, Christ-centered, biblically based concepts for daily living. Many of his speeches included the 30 Life Principles that governed his life and helped him learn, serve, and love God. Other messages included parenting, finances, personal issues, emotions, relationships, prayer, and God's character. Stanley, a clergyman on TV, taught others how to seek and obey God through adversity and personal tragedies.

Throughout his ministry, prominent organizations and publications acknowledged Stanley. Stanley served two terms as Southern Baptist Convention president in 1985 and 1986. He was elected into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1988 for his sustained brilliance and leadership in Christian TV and radio.

In 1989, Religious Heritage of America recognized him Clergyman of the Year, honoring pastors who promote Judeo-Christian values. In 1993 and 1999, the NRB awarded In Touch Television Producer and Radio Program of the Year. Stanley sold almost 10 million copies of his 70 novels, including his 2023 release.

Photography was also his passion. Stanley's trip photos decorate In Touch Ministries' Atlanta offices and encourage program watchers to explore God's creation.

After 50 years as lead pastor, Stanley became pastor emeritus of First Baptist Atlanta in September 2020.

Stanley's Early Life and Family

Stanley was raised by a single mother after his father died when he was nine months old in Dry Fork, Virginia, on September 25, 1932.

After being called to ministry at 14, Stanley obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia, and a Bachelor of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta awarded him a Master and Doctor of Theology.

Stanley became head pastor of First Baptist Atlanta in 1971. The Chapel Hour, a 30-minute program on Atlanta TV stations WXIA and WANX (now WGCL), marked his broadcast ministry debut the next year.

After the Christian Broadcasting Network approached Stanley in 1978, the Chapel Hour was renamed In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley and broadcast worldwide. The program went from 16,000 local viewers to a nationwide audience in one week at no cost to First Baptist Atlanta. Stanley was the longest-running pastor with a weekly broadcast.

In 1982, In Touch Ministries formed and syndicated their radio show. In Touch reached over 1 million households in most major US markets in the 1980s. Stanley's radio, shortwave, Messenger Lab, and TV broadcasts reached over 127 languages at his death.

His son Andy Stanley, founder and senior pastor of North Point Ministries, daughter Becky Stanley Broderson, six granddaughters, two great-grandchildren, and half-sister Susie Cox survive him. Anna Johnson Stanley, his ex-wife, died. The family requests In Touch Ministries donations instead of flowers.

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