Pastor Charles Stanley is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in northern Atlanta, Georgia. He is also the founder and president of InTouch Ministries and was rated the third most influential Protestant pastor, behind Billy Graham and Charles Swindoll, in a 2010 survey by LifeWay.
Birth And Early Life
Charles Frazier Stanley was born on September 25, 1932, in Dry Fork, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, just nine months before his father, Charley, died. Stanley grew up in rural Dry Fork in the outskirts of Danville with his childhood marked by the tragic death of his father.
He recalls feeling the support of God during that difficult time, chiefly though the strong example of his young, widowed mother, Rebecca Stanley, and his godly grandfather, who instilled in him a desire to trust and obey God’s Word.
At the age of 12, Charles became a born-again Christian, and at age 14, began his life’s work in Christian ministry.
Education And Ministry
By the age of 14, Charles Stanley had begun to sense a call to follow God in full-time Christian ministry. First, he received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Richmond in Virginia. He later obtained his Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Fort Worth, Texas. Lastly, he received his master of theology and doctor of theology degrees at Luther Rice Seminary in Georgia.
Stanley joined the staff of First Baptist Church of Atlanta (FBCA) in 1969 and became senior pastor in 1971. As a young pastor, he was given the motivational book Think and Grow Rich. He has written, “I began to apply the principles of that book to my endeavors as a pastor, and I discovered they worked!” He also wrote, “For years, I read Think and Grow Rich 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.”
In 1972, Stanley launched a half-hour religious television program called The Chapel Hour. The Christian Broadcasting Network began televising this show in 1978. In 1982, Stanley founded In Touch Ministries, and its radio broadcasts began to be syndicated. During the 1980s, the ministry’s broadcasts were available in nearly every major American media market, usually on Sundays.
Dr. Stanley also served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1984 to 1986.
In 2006, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley could be heard in 107 languages. Currently, it airs in more than 50 languages worldwide. 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 are also available on the In Touch Web site and are downloadable in the form of podcasts, along with other video and audio programming. In Touch also produces a free monthly magazine called the In Touch magazine.
Stanley’s writings and broadcasts address issues such as finances, parenting, personal crises, emotional matters, relationships and Protestant Christianity. According to the ministry Web site, “Dr. Stanley fervently believes the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, a belief strongly reflected in his teaching.”
In addition to his work in Christian ministry, Stanley is 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).
Personal Life And Marriage
Dr. Charles got married to Anna Stanley in 1958, the couple had two children, Andy Stanley and Becky Stanley.
In 2000 however, following several separations and attempts at reconciliation, Charles Stanley and his wife, Anna J. Stanley, were divorced after 44 years of marriage. Many prominent ministers, including Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship and even his own son Andy, called for Dr. Stanley to step down as pastor for a time of “personal repentance and healing.” However, with the support of his congregation (then numbering 13,000), Dr. Stanley retained his position as senior pastor of FBCA.
Charles Stanley has written more than 45 books.
- Inducted into the National Religious Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame in 1988.
- Named Clergyman of the Year in 1989 by the Religious Heritage of America.
- In 1993, In Touch Ministries was honored with the Television Producer of the Year award and in 1999 received the Radio Program of the Year award by the National Religious Broadcasters.
- Recently recognized by Thomas Nelson Publishing for selling more than 6.5 million copies of his books.