The Christian world was deeply saddened by the passing of Rev. Charles Stanley, a prominent Baptist pastor, and influential preacher, who breathed his last on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at the ripe age of 90. Having dedicated over five decades to his ministry, Stanley made a profound impact on numerous lives through his eloquent preaching, insightful writing, and exceptional broadcasting skills.
Charles Stanley was born on September 25, 1932, in the rural hamlet of Dry Fork, Virginia, and was raised by his mother, Rebecca, who instilled in him a strong faith in God from a young age, despite their financial challenges. After graduating from high school, he pursued his divinity studies at the University of Richmond, followed by a Master of Theology degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Theology degree from Luther Rice Seminary.
In 1969, Stanley was appointed as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, a position he held for more than five decades, transforming it into one of the country’s largest churches, recognized for its conservative theology and emphasis on biblical preaching. Besides his church ministry, Stanley’s influence extended beyond national borders, with his weekly radio program, “In Touch,” aired on more than 2,800 stations worldwide, and his television program of the same name broadcast in over 50 countries. He was also a prolific author of several books, many of which became New York Times bestsellers, offering practical guidance for Christian living.
The Christian world was not only shaken by the heartbreaking loss of Stanley but also by the recent passing of several other revered men of God. These included the late Rev. Dr. Frederick Price, who peacefully passed away on February 12th, 2021, at the age of 89. Additionally, the renowned evangelist Morris Cerullo, who touched countless lives with his message of hope and love, departed this world on July 12th, 2020, at the age of 88. And then, there was the beloved evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, whose evangelical outreaches brought millions around the world to Christ. He breathed his last breath at the age of 79, on the 7th of December, 2019.
Although Stanley’s ministry attracted some controversy, particularly his opposition to the ordination of women as pastors and his support of traditional gender roles, his gracious demeanor and engaging preaching style won him broad respect across the Southern Baptist Convention, where he served as president from 1984 to 1985, and throughout the wider evangelical community.
Aside from his ministry, Stanley was a devoted family man, having been married to Anna for over 60 years before her death in 2014, and a loving father to his two children, Andy and Becky. His legacy will continue to be felt for generations to come, as he was an influential communicator of the gospel message and a devoted servant of God, who dedicated his life to sharing the love of Christ with others. As his family, friends, and countless admirers mourn his passing, they will also celebrate his life and the profound impact he had on the world.