|Born||Jack Frasure Hyles
September 25, 1926
Italy, Ellis County, Texas
|Died||February 6, 2001
Hammond, Lake County, Indiana
|Alma mater||East Texas Baptist University|
|Predecessor||Owen L. Miller|
|Children||4: Dave; Cindy; Linda; Becky|
Jack Frasure Hyles (September 25, 1926 – February 6, 2001) was a leading figure in the Independent Baptist movement, having pastored the First Baptist Church of Hammond in Hammond, Indiana, from 1959 until his death. He was well known for being an innovator of the church bus ministry that brought thousands of people each week from surrounding towns to Hammond for services. Jack Hyles built First Baptist up from fewer than a thousand members to a membership of 100,000. In 1993 and again in 1994, it was reported that 20,000 people attended First Baptist every Sunday, making it the most attended Baptist church in the United States In 2001, at the time of Hyles's death, 20,000 people were attending church services and Sunday school each week. He was accused of several scandals while pastoring the church, and his doctrinal positions often put him at odds with other Christians — even with other fundamentalist Baptists.
His early life and beginnings of his ministry
Hyles was born and raised in Italy, Texas, a low income area in Ellis County south of Dallas. Hyles often described his less-than-ideal upbringing which, he said, included a distant father. At the age of eighteen, Hyles enlisted in the United States Army and served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. He and his wife, Beverly, were married during the war.
After the war was over, Hyles completed his college education at East Texas Baptist University (then College) in Marshall, the seat of Harrison County. After his graduation from East Texas, Hyles started preaching at several small Texas churches, whose memberships began to grow. These churches included: Marris Chapel Baptist Church, Bogata, Texas; Grange Hall Baptist Church, Marshall, Texas; and Southside Baptist Church, Henderson, Texas. After receiving his education Hyles pastored at the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland in Dallas County for about six years. During this time the congregation grew from 44 to 4,000 members. It was during those days that Hyles left the Southern Baptist Convention and became an independent Baptist. Hyles then led Miller Road Baptist Church as an independent preacher for a while.
The move to Hammond, Indiana
In 1959, Hyles moved to the church provided parsonage at 8232 Greenwood ave. Munster, IN and became the pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond. When he arrived, the church had a membership of about seven hundred, said to be mostly "high-society types." About a third of the members left the church after hearing Hyles' preaching style, which was much different than that to which they had been accustomed. Hyles then led the church to its status as an independent Baptist church—freeing it from its ties with the American Baptists. Hyles started his bus ministry and soon shepherded 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, by average weekly attendance figures.
Beginning in 1969, and continuing for several years, First Baptist received recognition for the size of its Sunday School. In 1969, Elmer Towns wrote a book called The Ten Largest Sunday Schools and What Makes Them Grow which analyzed First Baptist's Sunday School. Towns presented a plaque to Jack Hyles in 1971, naming First Baptist Church of Hammond the nation’s largest Sunday school. In 1972, and for several years following, Christian Life Magazine proclaimed First Baptist Church of Hammond to have "the world's largest Sunday School".
In 1972, Jack Hyles and Russell Anderson founded Hyles-Anderson College, an unaccredited Bible college, to specialize in training Baptist ministers and Christian school teachers. Hyles-Anderson College never sought accreditation because Hyles insisted school accreditation would undermine his ability to control how the college ought to run.
The ministry of Hyles
One of the most notable aspects of Hyles is his church bus ministry that he helped innovate. As early as 1975, Time magazine described the phenomenon in an article titled, "Superchurch." The Time article notes that First Baptist Church of Hammond Sunday School, which regularly ran almost 14,000 people, pushed the church to a record attendance of 30,560 on March 16, 1975, thanks to a boisterous contest between two bus route teams. In that year, the First Baptist bus route ministry consisted of 1,000 workers using 230 buses to ferry as many as 10,000 people every Sunday. In 2001, a fleet of over 200 buses was regularly ferrying 7,000 to 15,000 people from all over the area.
Hyles spoke at 'The Sword of the Lord' conferences with John R. Rice and his own annual "Pastors School". The school continues to attract as many as seven thousand annual visitors to the Hammond area.
Hyles wrote approximately fifty works in his lifetime with over 14 million total copies in circulation, including the popular Is There A Hell?, based on a sermon he preached at a National Sword of the Lord Conference. Another work, Enemies of Soul Winning tackled many issues considered controversial in fundamentalist and evangelical circles, which include the doctrine of repentance, Lordship salvation, and the role of the church in soul winning. The Calvary Contender wrote, "Hyles will be remembered as a one-of-a-kind, ever controversial leader whose ministry touched the lives of multitudes."
Jack Hyles was better known as "Brother Hyles" to his tens of thousands of congregants.
Hyles often held nationwide speaking engagements. In 1984, for instance, he addressed a large gathering in the small city of Snyder, Texas, the seat of Scurry County, hosted by pastor Luther Wallace "Buck" Hatfield (1929–1995) of Faith Baptist Church. Independent Baptists from throughout the area, such as Ross J. Spencer from Bethany Baptist Church in Lubbock, organized bus trips to the convention hall in Snyder. Hatfield and Spencer also adapted the bus ministry approach for their congregations.
In his book, Enemies of Soulwinning, Jack Hyles taught that one could not be born again unless the King James Version was used somewhere along the line in that person's life. He did not teach Landmarkism/Baptist successionism (the belief that the Baptist church is the original church), but did teach that the church started in AD 31 when Christ was still alive (and not at Pentecost), and that the Catholic Church was started by the Emperor Constantine in AD 313.
Honors, award, and praise
In contrast to the criticism, Hyles has been the recipient of praise, an honorary doctorate, and other accolades throughout the course of his life, even continuing past his death. The Washington Post compared the "meek" preaching style of Jerry Falwell to the "spit and fire" of Jack Hyles. The Post suggested that after you heard a preacher like Hyles, "you knew that you'd been preached to". Falwell said that "Hyles will be remembered as a leader in evangelism through the local church." Falwell also said, "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 cause of Christ".
The Chicago Sun Times wrote about Hyles on the occasion of his death, "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." However, Hyles "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 will now have to survive without him."
Matthew Barnett, while discussing his work at an inner-city Los Angeles ministry, explained how he learned from Jack Hyles. Barnett also expounded on how Hyles was a tremendous soulwinner and how Hyles had great influence throughout the entire Chicago area.
Hyles is honored in Founder's Park at his college, where they laid 30,000 bricks as flooring for life-sized statues of Hyles and his widow.
Accusations of improper sexual behavior, financial and emotional abuse are highlights to Hyle's legacy. In 1989, the paper The Biblical Evangelist published a story "The Saddest Story We Ever Published", accusing Jack Hyles of sexual scandals, financial misappropriation and doctrinal errors. These charges were denied by Hyles who deemed them "lies". He was accused of a decade long affair with his secretary, Jennie Nischik, who happened to be the wife of a church deacon, Victor Nischik.
In 1991, a First Baptist Church of Hammond deacon molested a 7-year-old girl in her Hammond Sunday school class. During a Sunday school class "a church worker reportedly witnessed the act and removed the girl from the room, police said." The Chicago Tribune in a 1991 article reported that Hyles was sued for $1 million by the parents of the girl. The paper reported the "lawsuit claims Hyles and the church had not fulfilled their obligation to ensure that children were protected from harm during Sunday school." Furthermore, the lawsuit "claims the minister told the child's parents that Ballenger 'just loved children,' and, 'You don't have a case.'" The church settled the lawsuit out of court and the terms were not disclosed. At the criminal trial, three young women testified deacon A.V. Ballenger "had fondled them years ago." One of those girls testified that she was molested on the Hammond church bus. A former security officer at the church testified he saw Ballenger fondle a young girl in 1978 or 1979 in a Sunday school room after being called to the room by a female teacher. In 1993, Ballenger was sentenced to five years in prison.
In 1993, WJBK aired Preying from the Pulpit, a news series, examined "allegations of child molesting, abuse and sex scandals in several churches across the nation appear to be part of a pattern of such scandals among churches affiliated with the First Baptist Church of Hammond." It examined fresh claims of sex abuse in five different fundamentalist churches where church workers who molested children were traced back to Hyles-Anderson College. Besides the abuse, the program examined Hyles' teaching, including a 1990 sermon where "Hyles pretended to pour poison into a glass and asked an associate pastor, Johnny Colsten, to drink from it. Colsten said he would." The report "said the sermon has the 'ring of Jonestown' to it—the mass suicide in Guyana in 1978 by followers of cult leader Jim Jones." Hyles called the program "poor journalism" and organized a national campaign to respond.
In October 1997, attorney Vernon Petria filed a lawsuit against First Baptist Church of Hammond, accusing the church and its pastor of allowing a mentally retarded woman to be sexually assaulted for six years. The civil suit filed in Lake Superior Court in Gary claims the woman was "induced by agents" of the church in 1991 to ride a bus to attend Sunday school at First Baptist and when she was in the care of the church she was sexually assaulted, molested, battered and raped more than once until 1996. Hyles was sued because he and his church "failed in their duty to protect her," Petri said. The lawsuit alleged this was a pattern of assault can be traced to a Sunday in 1991, when a First Baptist teacher saw someone abusing the woman and reported it to church leaders and police, but the parents were never told and she kept going to church, where she was threatened into silence. The sexual abuse ended when the woman "developed a horrible infection and was taken to a doctor to find out what was wrong," Petri said. "When the doctor couldn't understand where the infection was coming from, she was admitted to a hospital where they found, embedded in her, a plastic object." The woman then told what happened, Petri said, recalling that a church program instructor led her to a room and served as a lookout while two to three males raped her.
In response, Hyles said he would have been the first one to want someone punished for such an act and the church told police about the teacher's report in 1991. He went on to claim "our records show no attendance since 1991" and this "is a total shock to me." The woman and the church eventually settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount.
Jack and Beverly Hyles had four children: Dave, Cindy, Linda and Becky.
David Hyles, served as the youth pastor at First Baptist in Hammond under the leadership of his father, Jack Hyles. Sources say that when Jack Hyles learned of his son's affairs with multiple women, he actually recommended him for pastor of his former church in Texas. By so doing, he was able to stay out of the public eye. David had multiple affairs with other women while pastoring his father's previous church in Texas, and moved to a different state, and got out of the ministry. For a time, he worked as an insurance agent in the Jacksonville (Florida) area, and has been accused of having multiple affairs spanning many years.
Cindy married Jack Schaap, an admitted sexual offender and Jack Hyles' successor to First Baptist Church of Hammond. In a letter to the judge seeking a lesser sentence for her husband, Cindy Schaap described their marriage as "stable" and claimed Schaap was known for "purity and discipline."
Linda Hyles Murphrey, a motivational speaker, presented her story titled "From Cult to Courage" at a TEDx event, discussing her hardships as a child of Jack Hyles. She has spoken out on the cult Hyles led.
Works by Hyles
- Seeing Him Who Is Invisible—Sword of the Lord Publications (1960) ISBN 0-87398-754-3
- How to Boost Your Church Attendance—Zondervan (January 1, 1961)
- Let's Build an Evangelistic Church—Sword of the Lord Publications (1962) ISBN 0-87398-502-8
- Kisses of Calvary and Other Sermons—Sword of the Lord Pub (1965) ISBN 0-87398-479-X
- Let's Hear Jack Hyles (Burning Messages for the Saved and Unsaved)—Sword of the Lord Publications (1972) ISBN 0-87398-504-4
- Hyles Church Manual—Sword of the Lord Publications (November 1982) ISBN 0-87398-372-6
- Church Bus Handbook—Hyles-Anderson Publications (1970)
- How to Rear Children—Hyles-Anderson Publications (January 1, 1972) 193 pgs.
- How to Rear Infants—Hyles-Anderson Publications (January 1, 1979) 143 pgs.
- How to Rear Teenagers—Revival Fires! Publishers (January 1, 1998) 155 pgs.
- Blue Denim and Lace—Hyles-Anderson Publications (1972)
- Let's Go Soul Winning—Sword of the Lord Publications (January 1980) ISBN 0-87398-503-6
- Hyles Sunday School Manual—Sword of the Lord Publications (November 1982) ISBN 0-87398-391-2
- The Blood, the Book and the Body—Hyles-Anderson Publications (1992)
- Enemies of Soul Winning—Hyles-Anderson Publications (1993) 148 pgs.
- Please Pardon My Poetry—Hyles-Anderson Publications (January 1, 1976) 123 pgs.
- Logic Must Prove the King James Bible.—Hyles-Anderson Publications
- Is There A Hell?—Hyles-Anderson Publications
- Jack Hyles Speaks on Biblical Separation—Hyles-Anderson Publications (1984) 112 pgs.
- Salvation is more than Being Saved—Hyles-Anderson Publications (1985) 150 pgs.
- Teaching on Preaching—Hyles-Anderson Publications (1986) 153 pgs.
- Grace and Truth—Hyles-Anderson Publications (January 1, 1975) 222 pgs.
- The Miracle of the Bus Ministry—Ray Young Publications (1996)
- Fundamentalism in My Lifetime—Hyles Publications (2002) ISBN 0-9709488-4-0
- What Great Men Taught Me—Berean Publications (2000)
- Truman Dollar, Jerry Falwell, A.V. Henderson, & Jack Hyles Building Blocks of the Faith (Foundational Bible Doctrines, Special Faith Partner Edition)—Fundamentalist Church Publications (1977) ISBN 0-89663-006-4
- Introduction to the Dino J. Pedrone book What is It All About? Sword of the Lord Publications (2000) ISBN 0-87398-932-5
- Introduction to the Beverly Hyles book Woman, the Assembler (Making Your Husband a Leader) Hyles Publications (1995)
- Janega, James Rev. Jack Hyles; Led bus ministry Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2001
- Lehmann, Daniel J. "Fundamentalists Shun a Society They Try to Save" Chicago Sun-Times, June 6, 1993. pg. 5
- Lehmann, Daniel J. "Pastor Linked to Sex Abuse Lashes Out," Chicago Sun-Times, June 2, 1993. pg. 5
- Chalfant, H. Paul, Religion in Contemporary Society (3rd Edition), Itasca, Illinois: F.E. Peacock Publishers (1994); pgs. 363-364
- Smith, Bryan (January 2013). "Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church'". Chicago Magazine. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
- Falsani, Cathleen Brother Jack Hyles of Hammond dies at 74 Chicago Sun Times, February 8, 2001.
- "First Baptist Church... Helping People for 116 Years, and Counting!" (PDF). The Voice of First Baptist Church. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 16, 2006. Retrieved May 1, 2006.
- Towns, Elmer. "The Ten Largest Sunday Schools and What Makes Them Grow" (PDF). Baker Book House. Retrieved May 1, 2006.
- "Megachurch Pastor Jack Hyles Dead at 74". Christianity Today. Retrieved April 2, 2001.
- Accreditation, Jack Hyles.
- Superchurch Time December 1, 1975 (retrieved June 4, 2006)
- Zabroski, Steve (2006). "Faithful flock to Hammond". Northwest Indiana Times. Archived from the original on April 14, 2009. Retrieved March 24, 2006.
- "Jack Hyles Succumbs To Heart Attack". Calvary Contender. 2001. Retrieved May 1, 2006.
- Enemies of Soulwinning by Jack Hyles pg 46-47
- "What Is a Fundamental Baptist Church?".
- Harrington, Walt What Hath Falwell Wrought? Washington Post July 24, 1988, pg W19
- As discussed along with his misuse of the title on Preying from the Pulpit in May 1993 by WJBK of Detroit, Michigan
- High hopes: Matthew Barnett's secret is to inspire others to dream what God can do—and dream big The Leadership Interview from Leadership Journal January 1, 2005
- News briefs Illinois edition: Dedication to unveil college founder October 20, 2001 Northwest Indiana Times
- "The Saddest Story We Ever Published". The Biblical Evangelist. 1989. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- Hirsley, Michael (28 May 1989). "Charges All Lies, Hammond Pastor Says". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- "Jack Schaap, Pastor, Fired From Megachurch For Committing 'A Sin'". Huffington Post. 08/01/2012. Retrieved 2012-10-24. Check date values in:
- "Church leaders sued in sex-abuse case," Chicago Tribune, October 16, 1991.
- "A civil suit filed against Ballenger and the church by the girl's family was settled almost two years ago." from Beeler, Amanda (March 31, 1996). "One step closer to the end". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- "Ballenger: I'm innocent. First Baptist Church deacon to be". The Times of Northwest Indiana. June 6, 1996. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- "Niece: 'Deacon fondled me'. More accuse Ballenger of". The Times of Northwest Indiana. June 25, 1996. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- "Deacon gets 5-year sentence. Judge issues decision in". The Times of Northwest Indiana. July 3, 1993. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- "Appeals court upholds molesting conviction of Hammond". The Times of Northwest Indiana. March 24, 1996. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- "Detroit station probes abuse, church link". The Times of Northwest Indiana. May 17, 1993. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- "Pastor Linked to Sex Abuse Lashes Out," Chicago Sun-Times, June 2, 1993.
- "Preacher has links to molest suspects." The San Diego Union San Diego, Calif.: May 17, 1993. p. A.7
- "Detroit station probes abuse, church link". The Times of Northwest Indiana. May 17, 1993. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- Gruszecki, Debra (May 28, 1993). "Hyles: I'm no dictator. First Baptist leader defends". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- "Hyles calls for national campaign to counter media". The Times of Northwest Indiana. May 20, 1993. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- Debra Gruszecki"Suit claims rape at church". Archived from the original on June 22, 2009. Retrieved June 22, 2009. Northwest Indiana Times October 4, 1997
- Dr. Jack Hyles, Obituary Retrieved 8 August 2012
- "David Hyles: My Story". falleningrace.wordpress.com. 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- "Jack Schaap Confesses To Sexual Relationship With Teen After Firing From Megachurch" Retrieved 8 August 2012
- "A tale of two Jack Schaaps". Northwest Times of Indiana. Jan 5, 2013. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- "About Linda Hyles Murphrey". coachingthebestyou.com. 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- "Linda Murphrey - From Cult to Courage". Tedx. Aug 21, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
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