The pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, Charles Stanley, announced in a pre-recorded video at the end of the Sunday service that he would no longer be serving as senior pastor.
The 87-year old described how difficult it had been to make the decision: “I love our church and I love what God has done through our partnership together…but I know in my heart this season has come to an end."
Stanley became the pastor of First Baptist Church in 1969, having previously worked as a pastor in a church in Florida. In his video, he mentioned that although he had initially resisted God’s call to become the pastor of First Baptist, ultimately obeying the call was the right decision.
"When the call came, I resisted, but when God call us to do something uncomfortable is usually because he wants to do something remarkable," he explained.
Stanley will now become Pastor Emeritus and has insisted he will not be retiring but will continue to work through the ministry he founded, In Touch Ministries.
“As you know, I don’t believe in retirement. … I will focus the next season of my life on my opportunities at In Touch. I’ll continue to preach the gospel as long as God allows," he said.
In Touch Ministries seeks to share the gospel through Stanley’s teachings via radio, TV and digital resources.
Pastor Anthony George will become the senior pastor of the church, as had already been agreed in the Church’s succession plan approved in 2017.
“I want to congratulate Anthony. You love him. I am so grateful for him. I have no doubt there are many great days ahead for the First Baptist Church of Atlanta." Stanley added.
Stanley left his congregation with one final message: “I will do what I’ve encouraged all of you to do for decades, I’m going to obey God and leave all the consequences to him. God bless you all.”