Paul Crouch, who co-founded the Trinity Broadcasting Network in 1973, died early Saturday at age 79.
“We are grateful for the life of this amazing servant of God,” said an announcement on TBN’s website. “Please pray for the Crouch family during this time.”
Crouch died at 2:32 a.m. in California, according to a posting on the network’s Facebook page.
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No further details were available, though the Christian Broadcasting Network reported on its website that Crouch had “suffered for more than a decade with chronic heart problems.”
“The televangelist was hospitalized for congestive heart failure two years ago and received a pacemaker last year,” the CBN report said. “He went back into the hospital last month and for a while needed a ventilator to help him breathe.
“But he had returned home early in November amid reports he was doing better,” the network reported.
According to his biography, Crouch and his wife, Jan, founded TBN as Trinity Broadcasting Systems in 1973. The network purchased its first station, KTBN-TV 40 in Southern California, the following year.
Two other co-founders were Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, who left after just two years to form their own ministry, the PTL Club.
Based in Costa Mesa, Calif., TBN bills itself as the largest faith network in the country and the seventh-largest owner of television stations. It has studios in Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, and in New York City.
The network also has 84 satellite channels and more than 18,000 television and cable affiliates worldwide. TBN has also produced movies and television programming.
Among the televangelists whose programs have been aired on the network are Billy Graham, Robert Schuller, Robert Hagee, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, and Joel Osteen.
TBN marked its 40th anniversary this year.
Crouch served as the network’s president and chairman, with Jan Crouch working as vice-president and programming director.
In recent years, however, one of the couple two sons, Matthew, also a TBN vice president, took over the network’s daily operations, according to the CBN report.
Another son, Paul Crouch Jr., works for the The Word Network, the world’s largest African-American religious network, CBN reports.
According to his biography, Paul Crouch Sr. was born in 1934 to parents who were missionaries in St. Joseph, Mo. He is a graduate of the Central Bible Institute and Seminary in Springfield, Mo., earning a theology degree in 1955.
Two years later, he met his wife, Jan.
Crouch began his broadcasting career in the 1950s, CNN reports, working in radio and eventually managing the television and film production operations for the Assemblies of God in Los Angeles in the early 1960s.
His books include “I Had No Father But God” and “Hello World.”
Crouch served on the board of The Holy Land Experience, an interactive biblical museum in Orlando, according to CNN.
TBN’s Facebook page has been filled with condolences from a cross section of individuals.
“Paul Crouch was a giant amongst men whose trail blazed television ministry for the 21st century,” Jakes said in a posting. “His brilliant faith and business acumen brought Christ to many who wouldn’t have been otherwise exposed.”
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By Todd Beamon