By Daniel W. Petty
Alpha Rex Humbard, born in 1919 in Little Rock, Arkansas, and raised mostly in Hot Springs, grew up in a family of itinerant Pentecostal evangelists. As a child, Rex traveled regularly with the family, singing and playing the guitar in the family’s evangelistic performances. After graduation from high school, Rex joined his father’s team, promoting their tent meetings from radio stations along the revival circuit. When his son Rex, Jr. was apparently healed in an early Oral Roberts campaign in Mobile, Alabama, Humbard bought an old Roberts tent to launch his own ministry. According to his autobiography, Miracles in My Life (Revell, 197 1), he had experienced a conversion experience at age fourteen, and one day shortly thereafter had watched the “big top” of a Ringling Brothers’ circus go up in Hot Springs, thus receiving his inspiration some day to get a big tent like that for preaching the gospel.
In 1952 Humbard decided to base his ministry in Akron, Ohio, establishing the Calvary Temple in a former theater. While televising Sunday services, Humbard worked toward a larger ministry. The Cathedral of Tomorrow, completed in 1958, is a futuristic edifice with glass and marble walls and domed roof, designed with TV in mind. By 1970, Sunday services were carried on 225 stations nationwide. By 1980, his show commanded an audience of over 2.4 million. The program has been broadcast in at least seven languages in 18 foreign countries, through some 400 TV and shortwave radio stations. In 1973, the Humbard ministry faced extreme financial difficulties, but by the end of the 70’s had weathered the storm.
Humbard was raised Pentecostal, but his ministry has consistently been nondenominational. Lacking any formal education, Rex was ordained by his father and licensed by the International Ministerial Federation. He believes in the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and divine healing. His program includes testimony to the healing powers of Humbard, given through the reading of letters from viewers. Humbard’s appeal is to the common man, and he is not one given to deep theology or controversy.
In addition to Humbard’s autobiography, information on Humbard can be found in Prime Time Preachers, by Jeffrey K. Hadden and Charles E. Swann (1981); and David Edwin Harrell, All Things Are Possible (1975).
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 12, p. 366
June 18, 1987