Charles F. Stanley, the iconic Southern Baptist televangelist who has led the 13,000-member First Baptist Church Atlanta in Georgia for more than 40 years and founded In Touch Ministries, named Dr. Anthony George as his successor Sunday. But he plans to remain at the helm of the church as long as God gives him “health and strength.”
“While I intend to remain the pastor as long as God gives me health and strength, this plan will be officially in place to ensure a seamless transition in leadership whenever God ordains that to occur,” the 85-year-old Stanley said in a statement on the church’s Facebook page.
That means, said Shane Baker, director of executive communications at First Baptist Church Atlanta, that if Stanley makes it to 95 or older and remains healthy he will remain as the church’s senior pastor.
Dr. Stanley does not believe in retirement, he will tell you that retirement is not in the Bible and he has no aspirations to retire. He does not think that it is biblical,” Baker told The Christian Post Tuesday.
When asked if this means Stanley’s succession plan won’t be affected unless he dies or is seriously incapacitated, Baker said that will be determined by God.
As of Tuesday, there were no immediate concerns about that because Stanley “is in great health,” Baker said.
The announcement comes as other longtime leaders, such as Pastor Dick Bernal of Jubilee Christian Center in San Jose, California, who will be replaced by Ron Carpenter Jr. of Redemption Church, have outlined even more concrete plans to retire from ministry.