The Charles F. Stanley Chair for the Advancement of Global Christianity was approved unanimously by the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Board of Trustees during its fall meeting, Oct. 19.
The new, fully endowed academic chair will be in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions and honors the longtime pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta.
SWBTS President Adam W. Greenway told trustees that Stanley is “one of the most well-known and prolific Southwesterners in our history.”
Historic fully funded, endowed chair
The Stanley Chair is the “first fully funded, endowed chair in the history of Southwestern Seminary at the current funding level of $2 million,” Greenway said.
“There may be a liberal drift somewhere happening, but I’m thankful that Charles Stanley knows it’s not happening at Southwestern Seminary,” he added. “He and his ministry want to identify with Southwestern Seminary and to put their resources in an institution that is committed to helping people know Christ, here and around the world.”
In a statement to the seminary, Stanley said, “I never could have imagined how God would work this out. I am honored to think of all the pastors, professors, and even founders of seminaries, who will be trained through the World Christian Studies program at Southwestern Seminary. When I was a young man just starting out, a pastor helped me so I could receive a scholarship and get an education. It is a joy to think In Touch is partnering with Southwestern to do that for young men and women all over the world.”
Last month, the board of directors of In Touch Foundation, the charitable subsidiary of In Touch Ministries, the global broadcasting ministry founded by Stanley in 1977, approved full funding of the chair “as an expression of appreciation for Dr. Stanley’s love for Christ, for Christian education, and for the ministry of the seminary,” according to the agreement establishing the chair. A delegation from Southwestern Seminary led by Greenway visited In Touch Ministries in Atlanta on Sept. 30 to meet with Stanley and to receive the donation to endow the Stanley Chair.
‘Grateful to partner’
C. Philip Bowen, CEO of In Touch, said the ministry is “grateful to partner” with the seminary “to honor Dr. Charles Stanley with a Chair for the Advancement of Global Christianity. Dr. Stanley’s life mission is to lead people worldwide into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and strengthen the local church. The World Christian Studies program does that in a groundbreaking way — allowing students to remain in their contexts while training for ministry. We pray God will work powerfully through this program. He already has and I am certain He will continue to.”
Stanley, a 1957 bachelor of divinity graduate of Southwestern Seminary, began In Touch during his 49-year tenure as the senior pastor of the FBC Atlanta.
Charles Frazier Stanley was born September 25, 1932, in Dry Fork, Virginia, to Charley and Rebecca Stanley. His father passed away when he was nine months old. In 1947, at the age of 14, Stanley sensed God’s call to preach. After earning his bachelor of arts degree at the University of Richmond in Virginia, he began his studies at Southwestern Seminary. Stanley was ordained to ministry at Moffett Memorial Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia, in 1956.
Upon graduation from Southwestern Seminary, Stanley pastored in North Carolina before joining the staff of FBC Atlanta in 1969 and assumed the role of senior pastor in 1971. He remained senior pastor until his retirement from the church in September 2020, when he was named pastor emeritus.
In 1972, Stanley began “The Chapel Hour,” which was a half-hour television program and in 1977 he founded In Touch Ministries. Two years later, In Touch magazine began as a newsletter and in 1980 “In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley” began airing daily across the United States through television and radio broadcasts. The ministry reports that Stanley’s sermons are daily broadcast globally to 3,600 radio, television, and satellite outlets and through the In Touch Ministries website.
In addition to his degree from Southwestern Seminary, Stanley earned his master of theology and doctor of theology degrees from Luther Rice Seminary. Stanley also served two one-year terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1984 to 1986.
Endowed chairs at Southwestern Seminary are considered fully funded at $2 million, at which time the chair is officially activated by trustee action. Endowed chair funds are invested in accordance with seminary guidelines to produce investment returns which underwrite the salary of the chair occupant, a professor who is officially named to hold the chair by subsequent trustee action. The first occupant of the Stanley Chair will be a professor in the Fish School to be recommended at a future date.