Charles Stanley, Baptist pastor and televangelist, dies at 90
Charles Frazier Stanley, the popular televangelist preacher, author and founder of In Touch Ministries who once served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, died at age 90 on Tuesday morning.
His death was confirmed in a statement Tuesday posted to Instagram by In Touch Ministries.
“Dr. Stanley lived a faithful life of obedience, dedicated to teaching others how to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Now he is receiving the joy of his soul — seeing his Savior face-to-face,” read the statement.
“Please join us in praying for the entire Stanley family. Updates regarding memorial arrangements will be posted here, at intouch.org, and at charlesstanley.com.”
Born Sept. 25, 1932, in Dry Fork, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, Stanley decided to pursue a spiritual life in part because of the loss of his father at an early age.
Stanley earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Richmond, a bachelor of divinity degree at Southwestern Theological Seminary, and a master of theology and doctor of theology at Luther Rice Seminary.
In 1969, Stanley joined the staff at First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and became senior pastor in 1971, holding the position until his retirement in September 2020.
In 1972, Stanley began a local Atlanta television program called “The Chapel Hour,” which later became "In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley."
“Our mission is to lead people worldwide into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and to strengthen the local church,” noted In Touch Ministries’ Facebook page.
“Our programs are seen and heard around the world on more than 2,600 radio and television outlets in more than 50 languages.”
For his extensive broadcast work, the National Religious Broadcasters inducted Stanley into its Hall of Fame in 2018 and gave him the NRB Chairman’s Award in March 2020.
During the 1980s, Stanley served two one-year terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
Stanley was part of the SBC’s Conservative Resurgence, a movement that led to a rejection of the progressive theological trends that dominated other Protestant churches in the United States.
In 2010, Stanley was honored by his alma mater Southwestern as a distinguished alumnus at an annual luncheon, with Stanley telling those gathered to "do what God tells you to do next."
"I have one goal: Get the truth of the Gospel to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, as simply as possible, in the power of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God," said Stanley.
Stanley wrote several Christian devotional works, including A Man's Touch, Handle With Prayer, Into His Presence, Waiting on God: Strength for Today and Hope for Tomorrow, Prayer: The Ultimate Conversation, and When the Enemy Strikes: The Keys to Winning Your Spiritual Battles.
In 1958, Stanley married Anna Stanley and the couple had two children, Andy and Becky, before divorcing in 2000 after several failed reconciliation attempts.
Andy and Charles Stanley had a public falling out over the issue that lasted several years. At the same time, other pastors believed that Charles Stanley should have resigned from his church position because of the divorce.
For his part, Andy Stanley went on to found his own high-profile ministry, an influential megachurch called North Point Community Church based in Alpharetta, Georgia.
In September 2020, less than two weeks before his 88th birthday, Charles Stanley announced that he was stepping down as senior pastor of First Baptist Church Atlanta, taking the role of pastor emeritus.
“I have many wonderful memories. But as much as I love being your pastor, I know in my heart this season has come to an end,” said Stanley in his announcement.
Stanley was honored in October 2021 by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary when they created an endowed chair in his honor supported through a donor agreement between SWBTS and the In Touch Foundation, the charitable arm of Stanley’s In Touch Ministries.
Known as the Charles F. Stanley Chair for the Advancement of Global Christianity, the position was part of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions at SWBTS.
SWBTS President Adam Greenway told The Christian Post in an interview that he believed Stanley “may be one of our most prominent visible alumni in the history of Southwestern Seminary.”
“He and his ministry were looking for a way to honor his legacy, certainty a worthy legacy of honoring, and they saw that Southwestern Seminary was a fitting institution to partner with to do something that would be significant in terms of their investment,” explained Greenway.
“And significant in terms of an opportunity to have Dr. Stanley’s name and his commitment to global missions and evangelism honored in perpetuity.”
In October 2022, Stanley was again honored with an endowed faculty chair, this time being at Truett McConnell University, a Baptist liberal arts school in Cleveland, Georgia.
Anthony George, a trustee at TMU who succeeded Stanley as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta in 2020, expressed his support for the decision.
“This gift and the naming of this Chair of Theology could not have honored anyone more fitting,” stated George. “His ministry has modeled the bold proclamation of Scripture so visibly, so practically, so consistently, and so globally, and to this day stands on a rock-solid theological foundation.”