Christian Living

ChurchWatch 09/24/07

Remembering Rex Humbard

Rex HumbardBroadcasting pioneer Rex Humbard died Friday of natural causes. He was 88. Humbard, once heralded by U.S. News & World Report as "one of the Top 25 Principle Architects of the American Century," is noted as America's first television evangelist.


In 1949, Humbard hit the airwaves broadcasting from the CBS affiliate in Indianapolis. It wasn't long before he had the world's attention.

"I am proud to be an electronic evangelist for I believe that God has a plan – a plan to get into the homes and hearts of mankind for Jesus," Humbard said in his 1971 autobiography, Miracles in My Life.

According to his son, Charles Humbard, president of Gospel Music Channel, the televangelist was the first minister to broadcast a church service on television on a weekly basis.

By 1952, Humbard was broadcasting weekly to millions of faithful viewers from his 5,400-seat church, the Cathedral of Tomorrow, in Akron, Ohio. This program was carried for some three decades by 360 stations across North America and more than 2,000 stations worldwide in 91 languages.


At the show's peak, weekly Sunday audiences averaged 8 million viewers, with more than 30 million viewers tuning in for the 1976 ‘You Are Loved’ patriotic special. The Saturday Evening Post wrote, ‘Putting God on Main Street has been the goal of this dedicated preacher for more than 60 years. Now, thanks to the electronic media, his Main Street stretches from Ohio to around the world.’”

"I am grieved at the death of my dear friend, Rex Humbard," said friend and fellow broadcaster Pat Robertson. "Rex and his wife, Maude Amiee, were humble, unpretentious people who became the leading pioneers of television ministry.  Not only did Rex broadcast from the Cathedral of Tomorrow all over the United States, but to nations and cultures all over the world.  His appearance in Brazil was so popular that the President of Brazil authorized him to 'address the nation.'”


"A great man has fallen, and we share the grief of his wife and family."

By 1979, Humbard drew global audiences with the show broadcasting in Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Far East, Australia and Latin America.

"Today, Rex Humbard has come closer than any other human being in history . . . to preaching the Gospel in all of the world . . . more than any other evangelist, he has taken up the challenge," touted TIME magazine in 1999.


Spokesperson Kathy Scott revealed that one of Humbard's loyal viewers was Elvis Presley, who regularly gathered his backup singers, the Imperials, in his hotel room on Sunday mornings to watch "his preacher." Upon Elvis's death, his father Vernon Presley requested Humbard to officiate the service.


Assist News Service reports that Humbard's personal appearances filled auditoriums from the Sydney Opera House and the Budokan in Tokyo to Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall in New York.


In 1979, more than 1.2 million people filled soccer stadiums across Brazil to see Humbard preach the Gospel message. In one night at the world's largest stadium in Rio de Janeiro, 180,000 packed in to worship and hear a life-changing message. He also ministered to hundreds of thousands in services across Africa.


Humbard was the son of a minister and a member of the Humbard Family Singers. Born on Aug. 13, 1919 in Little Rock, Ark., he grew up in Hot Springs, Ark. In April 2007, Humbard returned to Hot Springs to be inducted into the Arkansas Walk of Fame.


He is survived by his wife of 65 years Maude Aimee, his sons Rex, Jr., Don and Charles and his daughter Liz Darling; brother Clement; sisters Leona and Juanita; 3 daughters-in-law; a son-in-law, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.


Funeral services will be held in Akron, Ohio. He will be laid to rest in Akron, Ohio in the Humbard Family Plot just a short distance from his mother, father, and sister.

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