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Humbard, Rex comment (0)

October 4, 2007

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Rex Humbard, a pioneer southern gospel minister who launched what would become a worldwide empire of broadcast evangelism from Akron, Ohio, in the 1950s, died Sept. 21 at age 88.

From his earliest years, Humbard knew he would be a minister. He once said he was proclaiming biblical Scriptures by the time he was 2 years old. By the 1960s, his voice and image as a preacher had spread over the globe and he was influencing a generation of future charismatic ministers to employ broadcasting as the most powerful medium of religious communication.

Born to traveling evangelist parents, Humbard developed a folksy, storytelling revival style that drew millions of listeners and viewers to the radio and television sermons he became so adept at conducting. U.S. News & World Report in 1999 called Humbard one of the 25 Americans Who Shaped the Modern Era for his influence in redirecting Christian evangelism into television and incorporating entertainment features into the broadcast of sermons.

For 24 years, until his departure from Ohio in 1982, Humbard oversaw television and radio broadcasts of a then-unprecedented scope from the sprawling, domed Cathedral of Tomorrow he built in Cuyahoga Falls in 1958; the building was sold to another evangelist in 1994. At the height of Humbard’s popularity and influence, in the 1960s and early ’70s, his down-home messages of faith and redemption were syndicated on more than 600 television stations and, he claimed, to almost 20 million viewers worldwide.
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