Dr. Charles Stanley Obituary, Prominent Atlanta church leader, author dies at 90

Dr. Charles Stanley Obituary, Death – Dr. Charles Stanley, a well-known Atlanta pastor and author, died at the age of 90 on April 18, 2023. Stanley founded In Touch Ministries after nearly 50 years as the main pastor of Atlanta’s First Baptist Church. After joining the staff of Atlanta’s First Baptist Church in 1969, Stanley was named pastor in 1971. In 2020, he was named pastor emeritus.

In 1978, he debuted In Touch, a religious program that broadcast on the Christian Broadcasting Network and was translated into 50 languages. Stanley also served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention for two years. Andy Stanley, Stanley’s son, is the pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta. Stanley was born in Dry Fork, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, on September 25, 1932. Nine months later, his father, also named Charles, died. Stanley grew up on the outskirts of Danville in rural Dry Fork. He became a Christian when he was 12 years old and began his life’s work in Christian evangelism when he was 14.

He graduated from the University of Richmond with a bachelor’s degree in arts and from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth with a master’s degree in divinity. He also holds a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Theology from Luther Rice Seminary in Lithonia, Georgia. Stanley was an avid photographer in addition to his work in Christian outreach. His work has appeared in the ministry’s In Touch magazine, as well as various publications 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 the spring of 1992. Instead of reconciliation, they agreed that Anna would amend the complaint to seek a legal separation (“separate maintenance”). On March 20, 1995, she filed for divorce once more. During that period, Atlanta’s Moody Radio Network station (then-WAFS) took Stanley’s daily show off the air, citing a lack of signs of reconciliation. When the formal divorce papers were filed on February 16, 2000, the Stanleys were officially divorced. On May 11, 2000, a court signed the final divorce decree.

Their divorce caused a brief schism within the Southern Baptist Convention. The situation was exacerbated by reports that Stanley threatened to resign as pastor if he divorced. He stated at the time of their separation that he did not anticipate divorce; but, when it did occur, his church members overwhelmingly decided to maintain him as pastor. According to the bylaws of First Baptist Atlanta, Stanley was allowed to remain as pastor as long as he did not remarry. Stanley is survived by his son Andy and daughter Becky.