Funeral service announced for Rev. Ben Haden
A local pastor with a worldwide reach, Ben Haden rarely raised his voice. But he managed to make a strong impact on millions with his "Changed Lives" ministry. Haden passed away Thursday morning in Chattanooga at the age of 88. He was born on October 18, 1925 in Fincastle, Virginia.
Although most Chattanoogans knew him from his 31-year stint as pastor of First Presbyterian Church (1968-1999), Haden's own life had changed many times before settling into the ministry. He had been in the newspaper business in Kingsport, Tennessee, earned his law degree, and even served for a time in the Central Intelligence Agency. He earned degrees from Washington and Lee University and the University of Texas at Austin before being called to the ministry. He graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1963.
Prior to coming to Chattanooga in 1968, Haden pastored the Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church in the Miami area. Richard Nixon, who would soon be elected president, attended the church, and would continue his relationship with Haden while in the White House.
Haden's program,"Changed Lives" was syndicated to radio and TV stations nationwide for more than 30 years, and was a Sunday morning fixture in Chattanooga on WFLI radio and WRCB-TV. Rev. Billy Graham was known to be a regular viewer. Haden was only the eleventh pastor in the church's rich history, having been established around 1840. Haden's leadership at First Presbyterian resulted in unprecedented growth, requiring a closed-circuit television system in the chapel and fellowship hall to accommodate the overflow of new church members. After his final sermon at First Presbyterian on March 28, 1999, Haden focused on his online ministry, expanding his reach even further.
In addition to his weekly sermons, he wrote several books, and hundreds of his videos are accessible online http://changedlives.org/. For many years, his broadcasting headquarters were located in the Four Squares center on Mountain Creek Road in Chattanooga.
One of Haden's many friends, Chattanooga radio host Earl Freudenberg described the pastor as quiet man with a big laugh. "Many people don't know this," Freudenberg said, "but Ben spent Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings visiting his church members in hospitals. He'd visit with other folks too. It's hard to find anyone who loved people more than him."
He was preceded in death by his wife Charlyne, who died in 2009. He is survived by his daughter, Dallas Haden Gibbons; his son-in-law, Arthur Gibbons; and his granddaughter, Haden Gibbons;
Funeral services will be held Tuesday October 29 at 11:00 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 544 McCallie Avenue in Chattanooga. Visitation will be at the church after the funeral. There will be no visitation prior to the funeral. Heritage Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.