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Charles Stanley
Charles Stanley 2020 (QS2dw7EzUk0).jpg
Stanley in 2020
Charles Frazier Stanley

(1932-09-25)September 25, 1932
Died April 18, 2023(2023-04-18) (aged 90)
Alma mater
  • University of Richmond
  • Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Organization In Touch Ministries
Television In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley
Anna Johnson Stanley
(m. 1955; div. 2000)
  • Becky Stanley Brodersen
  • Andy Stanley
Charles Stanley
Church Southern Baptist Convention
Ordained 1956
Offices held
  • Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Atlanta (1971–2020)
  • President of the Southern Baptist Convention (1984–1986)

Charles Frazier Stanley (September 25, 1932 – April 18, 2023) was an American Baptist pastor and writer. He was senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta for 49 years and took on emeritus status in 2020. He founded and was president of In Touch Ministries, which widely broadcast his sermons through television and radio. He also served two one-year terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, from 1984 to 1986.

Early life and education

Stanley was born on September 25, 1932, in Dry Fork, an unincorporated community of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. His father, also named Charles, died nine months later. Stanley's family moved frequently throughout his childhood. At the age of 12, he became a born-again Christian, and at age 14 he began his life's work in Christian ministry.

He studied at University of Richmond and earned a Bachelor of Arts, then he studied at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas and earned a Master of Divinity. He has also earned a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Theology degree from Luther Rice Seminary in Florida (now located in Lithonia, Georgia).


Stanley joined the staff of First Baptist Church of Atlanta in 1969 and became senior pastor in 1971.

In 1972, Stanley launched a half-hour religious television program called The Chapel Hour. In 1977, Stanley founded In Touch Ministries with the mission to lead people worldwide into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and to strengthen the local church. The Christian Broadcasting Network began televising In Touch in 1978. The show has since been translated in 50 languages. In the United States, In Touch is broadcast on approximately 500 radio stations, 300 television stations, and several satellite networks including The Inspiration Network (INSP) and Trinity Broadcasting Network. Stanley's sermons, along with other audio and video programming, are available on the In Touch website. The ministry also publishes In Touch magazine. In Touch uses tools like radio, television, magazines and digital media in its effort to advance the Gospel as quickly as possible. Stanley took the ministry name In Touch from a Living Bible he owned.

Stanley's writings and broadcasts address issues such as finances, parenting, personal crises, emotional matters, relationships, and Protestantism. According to the In Touch website, "Dr. Stanley fervently believes the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, a belief strongly reflected in his teaching."

In 1985, Charles Stanley was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

In 2005, Stanley invited Lisa Ryan to co-host a question-and-answer segment called "Bring It Home", which aired after his on-air sermon, a segment intended to help the audience better grasp the content of the sermon through questions the average listener might ask. Ryan's participation ended in late 2006, the segment continuing with Stanley alone. In early 2007, Stanley began using the final segment of the In Touch TV and radio programs to teach on his "30 Life Principles".

In 2017, Stanley named Anthony George to succeed him as senior pastor of First Baptist Church at some point in the future. On September 13, 2020, Stanley announced his retirement as senior pastor and transition to pastor emeritus, but noted that he would continue to work at In Touch Ministries.

Influences and theology

With regard to theology, Stanley was an evangelical, and in terms of eschatology (end times) views, has been described as a dispensationalist. Over the course of his ministry, Stanley developed "30 Life Principles", that guided his life and helped him grow in his knowledge, service, and love of God, principles that he shared often, including in books, Bibles, and study guides. He credited his grandfather, George Washington Stanley, with inspiring one of his most referenced principles: “Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him." In his book Courageous Faith: My Story from a Life of Obedience, Stanley said, "Granddad told me, 'Charles, if God tells you to run your head through a brick wall, you head for the wall, and when you get there, God will make a hole for it.'" Stanley also addressed his influences and philosophy when he wrote in 2009 that he "began to apply the principles of [Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich] to my endeavors as a pastor, and I discovered they worked! ... For years, I read [it] every year to remind myself that the truth of God is not just for one career field. It is for all manner of work and ministry."

Personal life

Stanley had a daughter named Becky; Stanley occasionally mentioned her in his sermons. Stanley's son, Andy, is the pastor of North Point Community Church in nearby Alpharetta, Georgia.

In addition to his work in Christian ministry, Stanley was an avid photographer. Much of his photographic work is featured in the In Touch magazine, as well as in other materials printed by the ministry, such as the In Touch wall and desk calendars.

Stanley's wife of more than 40 years, Anna J. Stanley, filed for divorce on June 22, 1993, following their separation in spring of 1992. The two of them agreed that Anna would amend the lawsuit to seek a legal separation instead ("separate maintenance"), while seeking reconciliation. She again filed for divorce on March 20, 1995. The Moody Radio Network station in Atlanta (then-WAFS) took Stanley's daily broadcast off the air during that time, as managers concluded that there was no sign of reconciliation. The Stanleys were legally separated at the time that divorce papers were filed for the last time on February 16, 2000. A judge signed the final divorce decree on May 11, 2000.

Their divorce caused a minor controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention. The matter was complicated by reports that Stanley had said he would resign as pastor if he got divorced. At the time of their separation, he said that he did not believe that it would result in divorce; however after he was divorced, the members of his church overwhelmingly voted to keep him on as pastor. According to First Baptist Atlanta's bylaws, Stanley was allowed to remain as pastor as long as he did not remarry. Anna Stanley died on November 10, 2014.

Stanley died at his home in Atlanta on April 18, 2023, at age 90.


Year Title Notes
1972 The Chapel Hour Host
1983–1985 The Breakfast Club Host
1990–2023 In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley Host
2002 TBN's Praise the Lord Guest
2011 19 Kids and Counting Episode: "Donating Duggars"
2012 Monica's Closeups Guest

Awards and honors

  • 1988: National Religious Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame
  • 1989: Named Clergyman of the Year by Religious Heritage of America
  • 1989: NRB named In Touch with Television Producer of the Year
  • 1999: In Touch named Radio Program of the Year
  • 2017: Thomas Nelson Publishing recognizes Stanley for selling more than 3.5 million copies of his books

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Charles Stanley para niños

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