Charles Stanley, prominent Baptist pastor in Atlanta, dies at 90

An undated photo of Charles Stanley. Stanley died at the age of 90 on April 18, 2023.
An undated photo of Charles Stanley. Stanley died at the age of 90 on April 18, 2023.(InTouch Ministries)
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 1:43 PM EDT
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ATLANTA (WANF/Gray) - Dr. Charles Stanley, the senior pastor at First Baptist Church Atlanta and the founder of In Touch Ministries has died, WANF reports.

According to his family, Stanley died peacefully at his home Tuesday morning. He served as senior pastor of First Baptist in Atlanta for over 51 years.

The church released a statement on Stanley’s death Tuesday.

“Our hearts are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Charles Stanley. In this time of loss, we are comforted in knowing that his faith has now become sight. The glories of heaven are now his, a reality he taught us and millions of others around the world throughout his years of faithful preaching. Our church and the kingdom of God have been impacted by this one man’s life and ministry in ways that no one can fully comprehend. Dr. Stanley led First Baptist Atlanta for over 51 years, and his legacy will forever shape the heart and mission of our church. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his son Andy, his daughter Becky, and their families, and to his sister Susie in this time of loss. No arrangements have been determined at this time.”

Stanley was born Sept. 25, 1932, in Dry Fork, Virginia. He was raised by a single mother after his father died when Stanley was only 9 months old.

Stanley earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia, and a Bachelor of Divinity at Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He later earned the distinctions of Master and Doctor of Theology from Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta.

Before joining the staff of First Baptist Atlanta, Stanley served as pastor of Fruitland Baptist near Hendersonville, North Carolina (1957–1959); First Baptist of Fairborn, Ohio (1959–1962); First Baptist of Miami, Florida (1962–1968); and First Baptist of Bartow, (1968). Stanley become associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta on Oct. 1, 1969.

In 1971, Stanley assumed his longtime role as senior pastor of First Baptist Atlanta. The following year, he launched his foray into broadcast ministry with a 30-minute program, “The Chapel Hour,” on Atlanta-area TV stations WXIA and WANX (now WANF).

“The Chapel Hour” was renamed “In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley” and went nationwide in 1978.

In September 2020, Stanley transitioned to the role of pastor emeritus of First Baptist Atlanta after serving 50 years as senior pastor.