(RNS) — Charles Stanley doesn’t believe in retirement, he said.

But the influential pastor is stepping down from his role at First Baptist Church Atlanta after more than 50 years.

“As much as I love being your pastor, I know in my heart this season has come to an end,” Stanley told his church in a prerecorded message shown at the end of First Baptist’s online service Sunday (Sept. 13).

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In the message, he said he had informed the church’s board earlier this month that he planned to step down as senior pastor.

Stanley, who is turning 88 later this month, won’t be retiring completely, he said.

Rather, he will take the title

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