Founder of Rhema Bible Institute dies

Friday, September 19th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Founder of Rhema Bible Institute dies

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- The Rev. Kenneth E. Hagin, who started preaching at age 17 and grew his congregation into an international ministry, died Friday morning at age 86.

Hagin had been hospitalized in a cardiac intensive care unit since Sunday, when he collapsed at home. He died at 7 a.m., a spokesman said.

An exact cause of death was not immediately known.

Hagin's ministry included Rhema Bible Training Centers in 14 nations and Rhema churches in more than 110 countries. The Rhema Bible Church in Broken Arrow, where his ministry was based, has 8,000 members.

His ministry began when he said God miraculously healed him of a deformed heart and incurable blood disease.

"He wrote in his Bible, `The Bible says it, I believe it and that settles it!' " said his son, the Rev. Kenneth Hagin Jr., the pastor at Rhema Bible Church and executive vice president of Kenneth Hagin Ministries.

"He preached what he lived," the younger Hagin said. "His great legacy of faith will live on in the countless lives that have been healed, touched and changed through his ministry."

Hagin's ministry was part of a nationwide healing revival in the 1950s and '60s. He moved from Texas to the Tulsa area in 1966.

He founded Rhema Bible Training Center USA in 1974, and it now has 23,000 alumni.

From the start, he used the media of the day to reach his parishioners.

His Faith Library Publications has more than 65 million books in print. The ministry has a weekly television program called "Rhema Praise" and a radio program, "Faith Seminar of the Air," which also appears on the Internet.

In 1979, he founded the Rhema Prayer and Healing Center to provide a place for the sick to come and build their faith.

Hagin went to bed Saturday feeling well, according to a news release from his ministry. He sat at the breakfast table Sunday morning, smiled at his wife, Oretha.

Then he sighed, and his head fell to his chest.

Hagin is survived by his wife, two children, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.