ATLANTA (BP)--Charles Stanley and his wife, Anna, have divorced. According to an official of First Baptist Church, Atlanta, Stanley will remain as senior pastor.
Stanley, 67, told the congregation in a service May 21. Following his report, Gerald Spicer, church administrator, told the congregation Stanley would remain as senior pastor. The congregation rose in applause.
According to the May 23 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Anna Stanley filed a petition as "A.J. Stanley" requesting a divorce from "C.F. Stanley" on Feb. 16 charging their marriage of 44 years was "irretrievably broken." An Atlanta judge signed the final decree May 11 following the execution of a property agreement by the Stanleys April 5.
The Stanleys troubled marriage was made public in the 1990s and caused some struggles in the church because of an unwritten policy that First Baptist not allow divorced men to serve as ministers or deacons.
Stanley told the congregation in 1995, "If my wife divorces me, I would resign immediately."
"We hate it that things like this happen, but our church is moving right along," said the vice chairman of the church's deacons, Jerry Beal, according to the Atlanta newspaper. "He is our pastor, and he will remain our pastor."
Pastor of the Atlanta church since 1972, Stanley is a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and his In Touch television ministry is seen and heard around the world.
According to the Atlanta newspaper, SBC President Paige Patterson said he is "deeply sympathetic with the sorrow I know all of the Stanley family must feel over this. It ought to be a wakeup call for America that if something like this can happen to the Stanley family, it shows how much society has lost its bearings."