Rev. Jack Hyles, Christian fundamentalist leader
HAMMOND, Ind. – The Rev. Jack Hyles, a prominent Christian fundamentalist leader who founded Hyles-Anderson College, died Tuesday in Chicago after undergoing open-heart surgery. He was 74.
Hyles, 74, died at the University of Chicago Hospitals, where he had been transferred Friday from a Merrillville hospital, said hospital spokesman John Easton.
Hyles' death in the wake of his Jan. 30 heart attack stunned his congregation and students and faculty at Hyles-Anderson College, a Baptist college with an enrollment of 2,700 students.
"He was our motivator and our leader," said Wendell Evans, who has served as college president since the Schererville school's founding by Hyles in 1972.
When the college's students were told about the fatal complications of Hyles' bypass surgery in Chicago, "the whole school lost it," Kent said.
Tears streamed down the faces of teachers and students as they huddled in classrooms even after school had been dismissed.
Hyles, who was born in Italy, Texas, and grew up in a poverty-stricken area of Dallas, attended Southwest Baptist Seminary after graduating from Eastern Texas Baptist College.
Before coming to Hammond in 1959, he led the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland for about six years, from a membership of 44 people to 4,000.
Hyles, who authored 48 books and pamphlets with a circulation of more than 14 million copies in sales, also co-founded Baptist-based elementary, junior high and high schools in Schererville.
Funeral services were pending.
Hammond Times Feb 7, 2001
Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, founder of Hyles-Anderson College remembered as a 'caring person.'
Feb 7, 2001
BY DEBRA GRUSZECKI AND LU ANN FRANKLIN Times Staff Report
Strength and Beauty: "Honour and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." Psalm 96.6
"...How rare it is to find in the same package both zeal and knowledge! Somebody has said, 'Scholarship and fire seldom walk together.' How wonderful it is to find some scholar who has the fire of God in his soul. As he secures his education and training and gains his scholarship, he keeps the same zeal and fire of his youth ..."
The Rev. Jack Hyles, an address delivered at the Fall Convocation of Toronto Baptist Seminary, Oct. 14, 1968
HAMMOND -- The Rev. Jack Hyles did the unthinkable Tuesday.
The man who, for more than 40 years was a driving force spiritually and educationally to an uncountable tally of followers in Northwest Indiana and the country, died Tuesday morning at the University of Chicago Hospitals.
His death was a stunning blow, as the 74-year-old pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond and founder of
Hyles-Anderson College led his congregation with all the zeal of a freshly starched, spit-shine polished graduate of
"I don't have the words to express how sad I feel today," Amber Kent, a senior at Hammond Baptist High School, said as she headed to the parish office in downtown Hammond. "We'd been praying, and singing for an hour before we got the news of Brother
When students were told about the fatal complications of Hyles' bypass surgery in Chicago, "the whole school lost it," Kent said.
Tears streamed down the faces of teachers and students as they huddled in classrooms, and
worries ran deep, even after school had been dismissed. Students at
Hyles-Anderson College in Schererville were in mourning, too, according to President Wendell Evans.
"He was our motivator and our leader," said Evans, who has served as college president since the school's founding by Hyles in 1972. "He helped me a lot in learning the principles of leadership, administration and counseling. He was very unselfish in helping people, including our students."
Hyles, who was born in Italy, Texas, and grew up in a poverty-stricken area of Dallas, attended Southwest Baptist Seminary after graduating from Eastern Texas Baptist College. Before coming to Hammond in 1959, Hyles led the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, for about six years, from a membership of 44 people to 4,000.
By May 1965, Hyles' sermons from the pulpit had become so popular that they found their way into books, such as "Kisses of Calvary," which contains an introduction from
Hyles' mother: The Jack she saw grow from boyhood to manhood, was a person who gave Christ first place in his life, she wrote, and always had a great love and burden for lost souls.
Those lost souls, as Hyles put it, found their way onto buses that fanned out across Northwest Indiana and the low-income areas of Chicago, to bring a following to Hammond on Sundays and spread the word about the simplicity of salvation.
The 1970s brought new Baptist-run schools to the area and Hyles-Anderson College. The decade also brought a new First Baptist Church auditorium addition to 523 Sibley St. and a national Christian Life Magazine report claiming that the church operated one of the largest Sunday schools in the nation, and possibly the world.
Annual pastors schools were held in the spring, as were youth conferences, which drew thousands to the area and even prompted marquee "Welcome" signs from merchants along the traffic route between the college and the church. The college also grew in enrollment and influence over the years, as its annual school roster has grown from 300 to 1,800 students from across the nation.
"He had several thousand pastors who looked to him as a mentor, even before this college was founded," Evans said. "They have (since) sent students here."
Hyles was especially good at attracting students, Evans said.
One such student, Phil Merhalski, director of economic development for the city of Hammond, said Hyles was the matchmaker in his marriage to his wife, Gail, in 1977. The pastors' impact on their lives, and the city, was "so encompassing," Merhalski said.
Merhalski added Hyles put buildings to new uses in downtown Hammond, setting up various ministries that included outreach programs for Spanish-speaking people and the homeless.
"He was instrumental in stabilizing the downtown and the city itself," said
Merhalski, who has been a member of the church since 1973. "He believed in people and saw things (in individuals) other people didn't. He was a caring, loving man."
Hammond Mayor Duane Dedelow Jr. said he was saddened by Hyles' death.
"His contributions over the years to the city of Hammond have been great, both spiritually, and through his commitment to stay in the downtown area when others were leaving. He has forever left his imprint on the city," said
Dedelow, who met Hyles when he first entered politics in 1991.
The city's Redevelopment Commission, in fact, was talking about a plan to add a Youth Center to the downtown cluster of ministries, at about 9:43 a.m., the time Hyles died.
It almost seemed a bit ironic, said commission member Mark Rincon, and seems to be a sign that
Hyles' ministry will continue.
Shelton Smith, president and editor of Sword of the Lord, a religious publication based in Tennessee, said Hyles was a major player in a worldwide, fundamental movement over the last 45 years, and as such, has had a "major impact on tens of thousands of people around the country and the world."
Hyles, who served on the board of directors with Sword of the Lord and was a guest speaker for Sword-sponsored conferences, has also had his share of personal- and ministry-related controversy.
When controversy flared, many of Hyles' followers grew more adamant about his ministry and committed to it. Hyles also deflected criticism by saying that when one has a church of more than 10,000, it is inevitable that some members may find their way into the news.
Smith refused to talk about Hyles' controversies.
"This is a time to think about the wonderful things he has done," Smith said. "The big thing that he has kept the focus on is winning people to Christ. A lot of people have been motivated by Dr. Hyles to invest their lives in seeking out others and attempting to bring them to Christ."
Hyles, who at times was called flamboyant and at times, a bit shy, had a "dynamic about his personality that was influential on everybody he came in contact with," Smith said. "I would say that the people who knew him well would describe him as a gentle and compassionate man who cared very deeply about the people around him."
Voyle Glover, a former member of the church, said Tuesday was a sad day for him because Hyles "did do a lot of good reaching out to all the neighborhoods and ghettos to bring the gospel to as many people as possible."
"I liked the fact that he was, in many ways, a man's man. Right or wrong, he stood where he stood and didn't back down. I always liked that about him," Glover said.
Glover added he believed that many tears were shed across the globe, and in particular in Northwest Indiana.
"They're probably wondering, 'What now?'" he said. "And it's understandable. They've lost someone who has led them for many, many years. It's like being on a ship, and the captain suddenly dies, and he's the one that's run the ship. It's not that others can't get you to port. It's just you came through so many storms with that captain, you know, it's going to make you uneasy. You're going to hurt."
Kent begs to disagree.
As she and her friend Lili Ruiz, a third-generation member, stood under a mural of Hyles and his wife, Beverly, Kent paused briefly, looked to the sky and said, "I feel like I've lost my security blanket, but it's not gone. It's just a little farther away."
From the Hammond Times
Children counseled at First Baptist schools
Members vow, 'We will continue to live out the ministry'
Published 02/07/2001 10:30:23 PM
BY DEBRA GRUSZECKI
Times Staff Writer
HAMMOND -- Hyles-Anderson College was closed Wednesday, enabling a team of teachers and administrators to fan out to First Baptist Church of Hammond schools to counsel students mourning the death of the Rev. Jack Hyles.
Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond since 1959 and founder of the Schererville-based college, died Tuesday morning in University of Chicago Hospitals of complications resulting from heart bypass surgery.
The 74-year-old pastor had been hospitalized since Jan. 31, when he suffered a heart attack.
Youth Pastor Eddie Lapina said Thursday that while sadness prevails, Hyles' followers, friends and families are maintaining a "very steady course."
"Everyone is doing their jobs and the church is going strong," said Lapina, who joined First Baptist at the age of 4 and has been on staff a little more than two decades.
Wednesday church services were not canceled, he said.
JoJo Moffitt, who helps run the bus ministry along with her husband, the Rev. Roy Moffitt, said their son, Justin, and other seniors of Hammond Baptist High School in Schererville may launch balloons to honor Hyles
this morning after a senior class breakfast. Other staff members were busy fielding calls Wednesday from around the world. Lapina said office staff in Hammond had been averaging 1,000 calls a day and an unofficial Web site about the church has had 10,000 hits since Monday.
Lapina said the family asked that their thanks be relayed to the people of Northwest Indiana and the greater Chicago area for their thoughtfulness, prayers, cards and calls.
"Brother Hyles' heart was in the Calumet Region," Lapina said. "Though he had very strong religious beliefs, his main concern was pastoring the people of this area and reaching souls for Christ."
Reaching souls for Christ will continue to be the church's mission, Lapina said.
Just last month, a new Hammond City Baptist Grade School opened south of Ridge Road on Calumet Avenue in Munster. That school is one of many serving underprivileged youths from the bus ministry. Other city Baptist schools are located in the 7000 block of Hohman Avenue and the 700 block of Sibley Street, Hammond. A cluster of schools for children of area church members -- a grade school, middle school and high school -- is based in Schererville.
In a few days, Lapina said the newly remodeled Lincoln Hotel on State Street in Hammond is expected to become the home of Hammond City Baptist Rescue Mission. A new $4 million educational building for youths may be built across the street. Hyles had been planning a summertime groundbreaking for the new center.
"That was one of his prize goals, to get that building up," Lapina said. "We've rehabbed all those old buildings downtown, but could only do so much with them. Brother Hyles was excited about getting those old buildings torn down to make way for this new building and parking lot."
Moffitt predicted that members of Hyles' ministry will not let him down.
"We've been trained by God to live for the Lord, and now that it has come to this, we will continue to live out his ministry," Moffitt said. "I believe you'll see Hyles' work continue. The church will keep on growing. It won't stop."
College classes were expected to resume today.
All schools were expected to be closed Friday.
From the Hammond Times
A brief chronology on the life of Jack Hyles
Published 02/06/2001 10:33:12 PM
September 1959: The Rev. Jack Hyles is named pastor of First Baptist Church, moving to Hammond from a small 44-member church in Garland, Texas, to begin a thriving, fundamental new testament Baptist church at 523 Sibley St.
March 1963: The first First Baptist Church Pastors' School, a program that continues to draw pastors from across the nation, is held in Hammond. The first pastor training program attracted 65 preachers, according to news clips. Twelve years later, attendance was reported to be 3,100.
September 1970: First Baptist Church opens a high school in Lake Ridge School, Calumet Township, and begins to operate a grade school at 700 Sibley.
November 1971: Ground-breaking for Baptist City, a 17-building, self-contained development, on 20 acres of land in Schererville.
September 1972: A full schedule of classes begins at Hyles-Anderson College, which sprang up in Schererville on the grounds of the former Capuchin Seminary of St. Mary. College officials claim Hyles-Anderson to have the largest first-year enrollment of any independent Bible college in the history of America.
February 1975: A new $2 million First Baptist Church auditorium is dedicated at 523 Sibley and described as one of the largest meeting centers in the Calumet Region.
March 1975: Christian Life Magazine reports that First Baptist Church operates one of the largest Sunday schools in the nation, and possibly the world, and has an average weekly attendance of 7,837 to 10,000. During a 10-week bus ministry effort church members reported that as many as 500 people rode the church's 200 buses each Sunday.
December 1976: First Baptist Church buys Memory Lane Cemetery.
June 1977: First Baptist Church purchases the Duckles Bible Camp in Macoupin County, Ill.
June 2, 1977: Hyles-Anderson College reports its largest graduating class, with more than 160 graduates, and gets permission to begin the first of many expansions on campus: construction of a 2,000-seat chapel where the Rev. Jack Hyles preached weekly.
January 1978: Bus safety questions are raised after a fatal accident involving a 9-year-old Chicago boy and a state police inspection. The controversy led to a major overhaul of buses operated by the ministry. Buses continue to travel throughout Northwest Indiana and Chicago as part of First Baptist's evangelical outreach program.
September 1984: The church's downtown Hammond building count for its ministries, including the Sunday school servicemen's ministry and Spanish ministry, rises.
May 1987: Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott praises the church for being the "only buyers in downtown Hammond," and a "savior for a lot of people" when occupants of prime retail space were "selling out." McDermott credits the rejuvenation of Harrison Park to the influx of young Baptists who had moved into the city.
May 1989: The Biblical Evangelist publishes "The Saddest Story," a controversial piece raising allegations by former members about Hyles' personal life and the ministry. The article prompted some to leave the church, and galvanized others to follow Hyles even more strongly than they had before.
July 1993: Thousands participate in a National Church Bus Ministry Parade in downtown Chicago, an event organized to counteract media criticism of First Baptist Church of Hammond and its bus ministry. The parade drew 150 multicolored buses and 75 floats, and comments from pastors across the nation about the merits of the Hammond-based ministry that has helped many and has transported between 7,000 and 10,000 riders to Sunday school in Hammond each week for decades. Many of the riders are minority children from low-income areas of Chicago.
February 2001: The Hammond Redevelopment Commission learns about a proposed plan of First Baptist Church to build a Youth Center in downtown Hammond and create additional parking in the downtown district.
Chicago Tribune Feb 9, 2001
REV. JACK HYLES; LED BUS MINISTRY
By James Janega
Tribune Staff Writer
February 9, 2001
Every Sunday morning since the 1960s, the salvation motorcade has issued forth: hundreds of buses scouring the Chicago area as far north as Waukegan to bring the faithful--some of them on-the-spot converts--to the First Baptist Church and Sunday school in Hammond, Ind.
Each week, tens of thousands flocked to First Baptist services led by Rev. Jack Hyles, the fundamentalist and often controversial Baptist preacher who put his church, and the concept of bus ministry, on the religious map.
Rev. Hyles, 74, who used the buses to create the first megachurch in the Chicago area, and in the process led other inner-city churches to do the same in the 1960s and '70s, died Tuesday, Feb. 6, in University of Chicago Hospitals, where he was undergoing open-heart surgery.
"Dr. Hyles will be remembered as a leader in evangelism through the local church," said Rev. Jerry Falwell, televangelist and chancellor of Liberty University. "He inspired me as a young pastor to win others to Christ through Sunday school, the pulpit and personal witnessing. He made a great contribution to the calls of Christ."
With homespun humor and uncompromising religious fervor, Rev. Hyles enunciated a clear and deeply conservative vision of how his church should be run. Smoking and drinking were out, of course, as were dancing and hand-holding for unmarried couples.
But it was his literal interpretation of the Bible that often put him at odds even with other fundamentalist Baptists.
During his career, he split with both the Southern Baptist Convention and the American Baptist Convention.
When he first came to Hammond in 1959, the preacher who had packed new converts into his former Texas congregations sent liberal Northern churchgoers fleeing. But he quickly turned things around, first by going door to door for new followers, then by sending the buses when distances got too far.
Some 20,000 people now attend church services and Sunday school each week at First Baptist, which also serves as the parent congregation for the Hammond Baptist Schools, Hyles-Anderson College and the Hyles Publications religious press.
"In many ways, he was larger than life," said Hammond Mayor Duane Dedelow Jr. "He had a tremendous following at his church, but when other people were moving out of downtown Hammond, the reverend decided to stay. Many of his congregation lived in Hammond, so I would say he had a very important impact here."
Raised in a poverty-stricken area of Dallas, Rev. Hyles often described a less-than-ideal childhood with distant parents. Drafted into the Army after high school, he was married during that period to the former Beverly Slaughter.
He graduated from East Texas Baptist College after the war and set out preaching in small Texas congregations, all of which soon got large.
"His churches always grew," said Wendell Evans, president of Hyles-Anderson College. "He was very godly, but very practical. He had tremendous charisma and was a good businessman, and you wanted to work for him. You wanted to work hard for him."
The largest of those 1950s congregations was the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, which grew from a membership of 44 to 4,000. Though his success initially gained him wide admiration among Southern Baptists, Rev. Hyles later split from the group over theological differences, opting instead to run Miller Road as an independent preacher.
Rev. Hyles hated the word "minister," Evans said, finding it too "sissified."
After being invited to head the then-high society First Baptist Church in Hammond, he presided over a mass defection of its tonier membership that diminished its 700-person congregation by a third. Soon afterward, he led the church out of the American Baptist Conference and initiated his extensive bus ministry.
The author of 48 self-published treatises on theology with a circulation of more than 14 million copies, Rev. Hyles founded the Hammond Baptist Schools in 1970 and Hyles-Anderson College in Crown Point, Ind., in 1972.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by daughters Becky Smith, Linda Murphrey and Cindy Schaap; a son, David; a sister, Earlyne Stephens; 11 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Visitation for Rev. Hyles will be from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday in the First Baptist Church, 523 Sibley St., followed by a 7 p.m. memorial service in the church for non-church members. A funeral service for church members will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in the church.
From the Chicago Sun-Times
Brother Jack Hyles of Hammond dies at 74
February 8, 2001
BY CATHLEEN FALSANI RELIGION REPORTER
When he was a scrawny, nervous teenager who said he wanted to be a preacher, nobody took him seriously.
When the Southern Baptists kicked him out of their denomination in the 1950s for being too conservative, they said his ministry was over.
When he chose the interests of poor, inner-city kids over millionaire church members, they said he'd never keep the doors of his church open.
In more than 50 years of ministry, the Rev. Jack Hyles, pastor of mammoth First Baptist Church of Hammond, Ind., proved them all wrong.
In the process, he built one of the largest congregations in the country, a college, six schools and a vibrant ministry that now will have to survive without him.
"Brother Hyles," as he was known to tens of thousands of congregants, died Tuesday at University of Chicago Hospitals after complications following heart surgery. He was 74.
"We are really having a sense of loss," said Wendell Evans, president of Hyles-Anderson College in Crown Point, the Bible college Brother Hyles founded in 1972.
"He's a tremendous man of integrity, business acumen, leadership ability, organization," Evans said. "You didn't have to do everything his way. But after you experimented, you usually found out his way was the best way."
Brother Hyles became pastor of Hammond's First Baptist in 1959, shepherding the church from a congregation of several hundred to more than 20,000. In the early 1990s, a national survey ranked First Baptist as the largest church in the nation, according to average weekly attendance.
First Baptist also is known for its extensive Sunday School busing program. Each Sunday, a fleet of more than 200 buses spreads out from northwest Indiana, across the Chicago metropolitan area, to bring anywhere from 7,000 to more than 15,000 to learn the fundamentals of Bible teaching.
Countless others heard Brother Hyles' message through book collections and recordings of his sermons.
His commitment to poor children grew out of his own childhood; he was raised in poverty by a single mother during the Depression. First Baptist buses more than 300 mostly black and Hispanic children from Chicago's inner-city neighborhoods to its private Christian schools in Hammond every day, Evans said.
Brother Hyles embraced the title fundamentalist. It defined him and his ministry. It set them apart from other megachurches and told newcomers what to expect.
"At a time when we are possessed with a spirit of moral laxity and lawlessness, the students of Hyles-Anderson College willingly adhere to a strict dress code and display respect for authority," he wrote in a message to prospective students. "In an age when Christian workers feel that `the night is far spent' and souls cannot be reached with the gospel, the students . . . are consistently winning hundreds to Christ each week."
Brother Hyles is survived by his wife, Beverly; daughters Linda, Becky Smith and Cindy Schaap; a son, David; a sister, Earlyne Stephens, bursor of Hyles-Anderson College, and several grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday at the First Baptist Church auditorium, 523 Sibley Ave., Hammond, Ind. A memorial service will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the church, followed by visitation throughout the night.
Funeral service will be at 10 am. Saturday for First Baptist Church members only. Burial will be private.
From the Hammond Times
Church member ponders the future without its charismatic leader
Hyles will be missed by thousands, former judge says.
Published 02/06/2001 10:31:30 PM
BY BILL DOLAN
Times Staff Writer
HAMMOND -- Why does God make a man as essential as the Rev. Jack Hyles and then remove him from the flock?
That was the question former Lake Criminal Court Judge James Clement, a 35-year member of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, was left to ponder Tuesday after learning of Hyles' death
"I was saved under his ministry," Clement said. Three of his five children graduated from Hammond Baptist High and Hyles married all five. "He has been the only pastor we've known."
"Its devastating. We always say nobody is indispensable and that may be true, but Pastor Hyles comes nearer to being indispensable as any man I've known, heard or read about. "
Clement said he was a happily married and had a thriving law practice in 1965, but he was wandering spiritually when he first heard of an energetic minister making a stir in Hammond.
He said the congregation was about 1,500 members when he first attended and Hyles was building the church with dramatic gestures, such as an event called "Feed the 5,000," from the Biblical story of Christ feeding a multitude from a few fish and bread loaves.
"They served fish sandwiches and as a new member I was skeptical and said this is never going to happen. We are only 1,500 people and they expect to have 5,000 on a given day? Well he did it and I've never doubted him since. When he said he would do something, he did it, between the schools and church and college. It's amazing what he has been able to do in downtown Hammond. "
Clement said between 15,000 to 20,000 people now attend services every Sunday.
"He has done great work on that corner, there is no question about it. I had never met a man as charismatic. humorous and as disciplined as him. He was a strong, strong leader."
He saw Hyles just two weeks ago at church and said he appeared as vibrant as ever.
"At first we were told he had a back problem, then came the heart attack. We were just totally shocked. We just knew he would pull through. He will be so badly missed by thousands of people, not only here but across the country.
"... I am only speaking for myself, but y
ou wonder why God would take a man like that. It may be a test for the membership. I think the membership is strong enough to take the challenge. The church and college will continue to flourish and grow. He has taught us and prepared us for this."
From the Hammond Times
The legacy of Jack Hyles
The issue: A charismatic religious leader
Our opinion: The Baptist minister left a legacy of loyal followers.
Published 02/07/2001 03:41:43 PM
The death of the Rev. Jack Hyles sent thousands of the people he touched -- from the students at the college he founded to local leaders -- into mourning.
Hyles, the charismatic, long-time pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, died Tuesday at age 74.
The eulogies came fast and from the heart:
* "I had never met a man as charismatic, humorous and as disciplined as him. He was a strong, strong leader," recalled former Lake Criminal Court Judge James Clement, who said he was "saved under his ministry." Clement has been a member of the church for 35 years.
* "His contributions over the years to the city of Hammond have been great, both spiritually and through his commitment to stay in the downtown area when others were leaving. He has forever left his imprint on the city," said Hammond Mayor Duane Dedelow Jr.
Regardless of one's religious beliefs, it cannot be denied that Hyles played a major role in people's lives and their communities.
Born into poverty in Texas, he arrived in Hammond in 1959 as pastor of the First Baptist Church. Over the years, his flock grew and his ministry expanded to include what some called the largest Sunday school in the nation and the Hyles-Anderson College in Schererville. Church buses continue to travel throughout Northwest Indiana and Chicago to bring youngsters to First Baptist-run schools.
At the time of his death, his ministry totaled about 10,000 people.
A man of such influence and visibility is bound to attract controversy as well as loyalty. Hyles was no different. He had his share of personal- and ministry related-controversies. He always overcame them.
In the shock of his death, many of his followers worried that no one could take his place. True, in a sense. But his legacy is that he left a strong ministry, both in terms of people and buildings. His annual pastors' schools drew thousands of ministers from throughout the nation who saw Hyles as their mentor.
Surely, there are many people, trained by Hyles, who can pick up the Bible and continue his work.
From the Hammond Times
Hyles gives a final sermon
'Don't let what I taught you die'
Published 02/09/2001 11:10:20 PM
PULLOUT: The funeral service for the Rev. Jack Hyles will be held at 10 a.m. today for members of First Baptist Church of Hammond, 523 Sibley St., Hammond. A private graveside service for the family will follow.
HAMMOND -- Thousands of Baptists got "Blessed Assurance" in a memorial service at First Baptist Church of Hammond on Friday that the ministry of the Rev. Jack Frasure Hyles will go on.
Hyles, who began preaching at the age of 19 and pastored for 54 years, left a legacy of Bible-thumping, soul-winning people behind.
"Our loss is heaven's gain," said Russell Anderson, a co-founder of Hyles-Anderson College.
Anderson recalled the preacher telling him, "When it comes my time for leaving, there will be no grieving."
The mood, though somber, was upbeat.
It was also compelling.
Some of the people closest to Hyles stepped up to the podium, including son David and Hyles' wife, Beverly.
Beverly, before drawing a standing ovation, told those in the audience that the newspapers said her husband died Tuesday of complications from heart bypass surgery.
"I believe he died of a tired heart, a weary heart," she said. "He loved people, serving people, helping people, and when he had to say, 'no,' because he did not have the strength or the time, it hurt him deeply."
Before Beverly turned the nearly two-hour service over to others, she advised mourners to use what they'd learned from her husband and apply it to their lives.
"You did not learn from Jack Hyles," she said. "You learned it from God because he walked with God."
Hyles' son, David, said his father lived his life a little above the clouds.
The man who became pastor of First Baptist Church in August 1959, always had an optimistic view on life and its challenges and controversies, David Hyles said.
The clouds were his carpet and the sky his footstool, David said.
"When he visited a church, he wouldn't come to cry with you, but to lift you," he said.
Speaker Jeff Owens said Hyles did not act like a big shot. He was not arrogant, and never talked down to people. "He put the jelly on the bottom of the shelf," so young people could reach it. "And a million children reached it."
Owens said Hyles' contributions were many, and he never lost faith in humanity, regardless of how hard critics attacked.
"He taught us that the ground is level at the foot of the cross," Owens said.
Ray Young wondered how many marriages and ministries Hyles saved. "
I wonder how many alcoholics he reclaimed," Young said. "
Only eternity will tell how many people he touched."
With that, and a few psalms -- and details about Hyles' humble approach to a church that increased in property value from $70,000 to over $70 million and in size from 44 to over 100,000 people, there came a voice.
It was Hyles' voice -- on tape -- telling all riveted in their chairs that he is just a voice.
"And when I'm gone, and my voice is silent, and you come to see me, don't let what I taught you die."
From the Hammond Times
'Family' of beloved pastor says goodbye
Thousands attend funeral of the Rev. Jack Hyles.
Published 02/10/2001 09:30:12 PM
BY DEBORAH LAVERTY
Times Staff Writer
HAMMOND -- The Rev. Jack Hyles
built a ministry with more than 100,000 followers
during his 41 years at First Baptist Church of Hammond.
Yet members, including Daniel Pina, who came to pay their last respects to Hyles at his funeral on Saturday, recalled the way the charismatic, loving man singled them out as if they were each the most important person in the world.
Hyles, 74, died Tuesday morning at the University of Chicago Hospitals.
"He treated us like we were his family. He led such a great number of people in his church, yet he treated each person like an individual. He loved each person," recalled Pina.
Pina, along with his father and mother, Domingo Pina Jr. and Yolanda Pina, sat in balcony seats enabling them to look down at the service below.
"What I remember most about him was his compassion, his caring," said Gerardo Pineda of Chicago, a member of the church since 1988.
"He touched many lives," said Amanda Harris, who handed out programs and booklets detailing Hyles' life to those attending the funeral.
Every seat in the church, which has a capacity of 7,000, was filled, with some members opting to sit on metal folding chairs set up temporarily in the aisles.
Before the service, which started at 10 a.m., hundreds of Hyles' followers lined up to file
past his open casket to say goodbye.
The casket, surrounded by dozens of floral arrangements and covered with an American flag, was closed when the service started.
Following the singing of "Blessed Assurance" by the congregation, Eddie Lapina, youth minister, spoke briefly about his friend.
"The service today is for the hometown folks. It's a good time but a sad time," Lapina said.
Hyles' son, David, said the passing of his father was a troubling time for the family.
"We were filled with confusion as to what to do next," he said.
Hyles said the family yearned for the earlier privacy it had been able to experience in the hospital while his father was alive but knew it had to move on.
"It was difficult to accept that we weren't the only family. ... There is his church family and his family across the nation. Last night at the memorial service we had people here from all over the nation. This service is for the church family," he said.
Jack Hyles' wife, Beverly, spoke of the love her husband had for his large congregation and the loss to all.
"He truly loved you. ... I lost my best friend, my sweetheart, but we all lost our pastor. ... He loved being a pastor. It was his favorite word," Beverly Hyles said.
Lapina closed the service, speaking of the national and worldwide impact Hyles had. Hyles trained more than 1,000 pastors and missionaries serving in the United States and on foreign lands.
"Dr. Jack Hyles' voice was heard all over the world. He was a preacher of preachers. He set the standard," Lapina said.
He also spoke of the wide variety of those in Hyles' large flock, including those who were homeless and those with handicaps.
"He looked for those who no one else looked for," Lapina said.
He said Hyles, despite his worldwide influence, never forgot his large family of church members in Hammond.
"He loved the world, but his heart remained to Hammond," he said.
From the Calvary Contender March 2001
JACK HYLES SUCCUMBS TO HEART ATTACK Dr. Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Ind. since 1959, died Feb. 6 at 74. He was founder and chancellor of Hyles-Anderson College, and the author of 49 books and pamphlets. He hosted 37 annual Pastors' Schools, and the church was acclaimed, though disputed by some, to have the "World's Largest Sunday School." Funeral and/or Memorial service speakers included: Dr. Wendell Evans (H-AC Pres.), Beverly (Mrs. Jack) Hyles, Drs. David Hyles (son), Ray Young, Jeff Owens, Eddie Lapina, and Jack Schaap. Hyles was a very popular speaker at the Sword of the Lord and Southwide Baptist Fellowship conferences we attended in the 70s and most of the 80s a very dynamic, motivational speaker.
Dr. Jack Hyles will be remembered as a one-of-a-kind, ever controversial leader whose ministry touched the lives of multitudes.
From the Baptist Press (Southern Baptist Convention Press)
Jack Hyles, known for bus ministry, dies at 74 after 2 heart attacks
Feb 15, 2001 By Staff
HAMMOND, Ind. (BP)--Jack Hyles, an independent Baptist pastor whose evangelistic zeal and bus ministry were among his career's hallmarks, died Feb. 6 in Chicago after two heart attacks and open-heart surgery.
Hyles, 74, was pastor of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Ind., a Chicago-area independent Baptist congregation that was ranked as the largest church in the nation according to weekly attendance in
the early 1990s, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He had led the church since 1959.
Hyles had Southern Baptist roots, having graduated from East Texas Baptist College (now University), Marshall, Texas, and studying at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, in the early
1950s. But Hyles turned his ministry in an independent direction while leading Miller Road Baptist Church, Garland, Texas, during the
'50s. During his pastorate, Miller Road grew from 44 members to 4,000, according to the Chicago Tribune. Prior to his Miller Road pastorate, he had led churches in Bogata, Marshall and Henderson,Texas.
In Hammond, where Hyles' congregation swelled to more than 20,000, First Baptist became known for its far-flung bus ministry in the Chicago area. At the outset of his ministry in Hammond, Hyles led First Baptist out of the American Baptist Churches denomination, losing about a third of the church's 700 members at the time. Hyles' obituary in the Chicago Tribune noted, however, that "he quickly turned things around, first by going door to door for new followers, then by sending the buses when distances got too far."
Hyles founded Hammond Baptist Schools in 1970 and
Hyles-Anderson College in 1972 and authored 49 books and pamphlets.
"Dr. Hyles will be remembered as a leader in evangelism through the
local church," Jerry Falwell told the Chicago Tribune. "He inspired me as a young pastor to win others to Christ through Sunday school, the pulpit and personal witnessing," said Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Va., and founder of Liberty University.
Hyles suffered a heart attack Jan. 30 and a second heart attack at the outset of more than eight hours of surgery Feb. 5 at the University
of Chicago Hospital for four heart bypasses and two heart valve replacements. He died at 9:43 a.m. Feb. 6.
Hyles, an Italy, Texas, native, is survived by his wife Beverly, three daughters and a son, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His funeral was Feb. 10 at First Baptist, Hammond.