Why Did Charles And Anna Stanley Divorce After 40 Years

The separation of Charles Stanley and Anna Stanley created a considerable commotion in the public eye, especially within their congregation. Charles Stanley, a well-known televangelist and author, opted to reveal certain aspects of his personal challenges during the divorce.

Due to his strong religious beliefs, the divorce was interpreted as an instance of infidelity. Stanley’s choice to openly discuss the divorce sparked controversy, with some people considering it inappropriate for him to disclose such intimate details.

In the aftermath of the unfortunate split, many of their followers have been left wondering about the circumstances surrounding the breakup.

Who is Anna Stanley?

In 1955, theologian Charles Stanley entered into marriage with Anna Stanley, a connection facilitated by a church deacon. Charles often noted that she wasn’t the conventional type he would typically be drawn to.

Anna was characterized as both beautiful and intellectually sharp, possessing a creative flair. Notably, she held a deep commitment to her faith. Following their marriage, she pursued a career while Charles completed his studies at the seminary.

The couple has two children, Andy Stanley and Becky Stanley. Andy is acknowledged as the founder and senior pastor of the North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia.

While Becky Stanley has opted for a private life, it is known that she is married and has two children.

Who is Charles Stanley?

Born on September 25, 1932, in Dry Fork, Virginia, Charles Frazier Stanley came into the world to parents Rebecca and Charles Stanley.

Growing up on the outskirts of Danville, he faced the unfortunate loss of his father at a tender age of nine months.

At 12, the 88-year-old underwent a profound spiritual transformation, becoming a devout Christian. Astonishingly, by the age of 14, he had already embarked on his journey as a young pastor.

His educational journey included earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond, followed by a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas. Later, he achieved a second master’s degree in Theology from Luther Rice Seminary in Florida, and pursued a Doctorate in Theology.

Charles is celebrated as the founder of In Touch Ministries, leaving an enduring legacy.

On April 18, 2023, he passed away in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

Charles Stanley and Anna Stanley’s Marriage Ended

Charles and Stanley projected an image of marital happiness, but appearances were deceiving. In his 1991 book, “How to Handle Adversity,” the pastor recounts immersing himself in his work after relocating to Atlanta. He candidly admits to prioritizing the ministry, inadvertently neglecting his family, resulting in significant pain and rejection for Anna. It took several years for him to fully grasp the extent of the damage caused. Although intimate details of that period remain private, the couple’s children have attempted to provide some insight.

The relocation presented challenges, forcing the couple to start anew in an unfamiliar city, cut off from their social circle and extended family. Charles’s devotion to his pastoral responsibilities over his family left Anna feeling overlooked and unappreciated, creating a profound rift in their marriage.

In “Deep and Wide,” Andy Stanley sheds light on his parents’ relationship, revealing that the marriage had deteriorated long before the divorce. He discusses extended periods of marital counseling involving trained therapists and professionals.

Furthermore, he emphasizes that despite the pervasive issues, both parents resisted the idea of divorce and were unwilling to initiate it, despite the challenges they faced.

The process of divorce

In 1993, Anna Stanley initiated divorce proceedings but later amended her request to pursue “separate maintenance,” indicating a legal separation.

Despite efforts to find common ground, the couple reached an impasse, leading Anna to refile for divorce in 1995, this time opting for a jury trial. Reconciliation remained elusive.

Their inability to reconcile prolonged the divorce process, creating significant tension within the Christian community and particularly at Stanley’s local church.

While the details leading to the divorce remained undisclosed, it appeared the couple had reached an insurmountable impasse.

The protracted and challenging divorce proceedings took a toll on the First Baptist Church, where Charles Stanley served at the time.

After the divorce was finalized, Stanley initially contemplated resigning. However, a substantial majority of his church members voted to retain him as their pastor, with the condition that he refrained from remarrying.

Charles Stanley eventually stepped down from his pastoral role in 2000, despite some clergy members urging him to focus on rebuilding his personal life.

Despite the challenges, Stanley persisted with his ministry, aiming to regain stability in his life.

Charles Stanley steps down

In 2020, Charles Stanley made the voluntary decision to step down from his position as the senior pastor at First Baptist Church, stating that the time had arrived for him to hand over the leadership reins. He announced that his longtime assistant, George, would be taking on this role. According to George, during a conversation while Dr. Charles Stanley was hospitalized, it was revealed that the senior pastor had expressed his intention to retire, although the specific timeline remained undisclosed.

Evidently, the decision for this transition had been under consideration for a while, making George’s succession a natural evolution.

Despite Charles Stanley’s commitment to writing books and ongoing service at his church, the timing didn’t seem suitable for him to contemplate remarriage following his divorce. He currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

On the other hand, Anna chose to remain out of the public eye, actively serving in various church capacities. Until her passing, she remained unmarried.

What happened to Anna Stanley? 

Unfortunately, Anna Stanley passed away in November 2014 at the age of 83, succumbing to an undisclosed illness. It was observed that communication between her and Charles had been minimal following the end of their marriage.

Later publications make fewer references to Anna compared to earlier works. She is survived by her two children, six grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and two sisters.

Even after two decades, Charles Stanley’s divorce remains a topic of significant discussion. The well-known religious figure has opted not to publicly address his marital challenges, maintaining a steadfast commitment to his service within his church.

What Are the Reasons for Dr. Charles Stanley and Anna Stanley Divorce?

According to his former wife, Dr. Charles Stanley’s divorce in 2000 was the result of many years filled with marital frustrations and discord.

In June 1993, Charles Stanley persuaded Anna Stanley to amend her initial divorce filing, choosing legal separation instead. However, in 1995, Anna Stanley recommenced the divorce proceedings, officially stating that their marriage of over 40 years had irreversibly deteriorated.

Dr. Charles’ divorce also caused An unfortunate misunderstanding between Andy and Charles forcing Andy to leave his dad’s church.

Andy’s prowess as a preacher came to light when he assumed leadership at one of his father’s satellite churches, necessitating the turning away of attendees due to limited seating.

While presenting at times as a harmonious father-son team, Charles and Andy also displayed competitive dynamics.

Nearly two decades later, in an interview with CNN, when asked about competition with his father, Andy commented, “Not intentionally, but I felt like what we were doing was better.”

With Charles stepping down, Andy began to be perceived as the heir to his father’s legacy. Initially, it was widely expected that Charles would resign following his divorce, but such was not his intention.

Misunderstandings strained their relationship, leading Andy to leave Charles’ church after being confronted for allegedly siding with adversaries.

Reflecting on that tumultuous period, Andy shared with CNN, “It was really bad. It was horrible. But you know what? I had perfect peace. I’ve never been so sure of a decision even when the whole world blew up around us.”

Charles and Andy reconciled through shared time and counseling, eventually restoring the strong bond that had inadvertently been strained.

In 1995, Andy founded the North Point Community Church with a group of friends. Upon hearing the news, Charles interrupted his regular service one Sunday to assure his congregation, “And he has my blessing.”