FULLERTON — The Rev. Charles R. Swindoll, nationally known for his Christian radio ministry and best-selling religious books, has announced that he will leave the First Evangelical Church to found a nondenominational church south of Nashville, Tenn., eventually taking the organization that produces his popular "Insight for Living" program there.
In an announcement to congregants Saturday and Sunday, Swindoll said the more than two decades he has spent at the Fullerton church have been "the finest years of my life and the most productive years of my ministry."
Swindoll said his resignation, which was decided upon after months of "soul-searching, prayer, counsel with numerous friends, mentors and fellow ministers," will take effect April 15.
In the spring, when Swindoll was appointed president of the nondenominational Dallas Theological Seminary, which he attended, the minister told members of the Evangelical Free Church that he intended to divide his time between Fullerton and Dallas. He said day-to-day operations at the seminary, where he will assume the presidency July 1, would be handled by a resident provost.
But in September, Swindoll said he was having second thoughts and might give up the pulpit at the church here, where Sunday attendance often tops 6,000.
Since coming to the Fullerton church in 1971, Swindoll has presided over a membership that has grown from 816 to 4,658, according to his son, Curt.
Charles Swindoll's radio program, a daily half-hour talk show edited from sermons recorded at his church here, airs on more than 1,000 U.S. radio stations, said Curt Swindoll, senior vice president of "Insight for Living." Charles Swindoll has also written more than 30 books, which have sold millions of copies and frequently appear on lists of best-selling Christian books.
There are a number of reasons for the move to Tennessee, Curt Swindoll said, some denominational and some practical.
The First Evangelical Church in Fullerton is one of the largest congregations in the Evangelical Free Church of America, a theologically conservative denomination with Scandinavian roots. But, he said, "Insight for Living's" audience is nondenominational, as is the Dallas seminary.
Curt Swindoll said that traveling between Nashville and Dallas, which are in the same time zone, will be considerably less time-consuming for his father than commuting to Southern California. The cost of living for the ministry's broadcast and publishing employees will also be less in Tennessee, he said.