Image: Gatlin Brothers
Joseph Darwal  /  AP
Larry Galtin and the Gatlin Brothers perform at Rex Humbard's "Home Going Celebration" at Stan Hywet Hall in Akron, Ohio, Sunday.
updated 9/30/2007 8:57:00 PM ET 2007-10-01T00:57:00

The Rev. Rex Humbard was remembered Sunday for establishing a ministry that grew from revival tents to what was then the new medium of television, eventually reaching a worldwide audience.

About 550 people gathered for the funeral at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, not far from the Cathedral of Tomorrow, a 5,000-seat nondenominational church from which he broadcast Sunday services. Humbard, 88, died Sept. 21 at a South Florida hospital near his home.

"Rex was focused on one thing: to tell people they need to be saved," said Humbard's brother-in-law Wayne Jones, who worked in the televangelist's ministry.

The last time Jones saw Humbard, he was weakened and told him: "I told the Lord when I can't win any souls it's time to go home."

After a decade preaching on the road, Humbard settled in Akron in 1952. The son of Pentecostal evangelists, Humbard saw the power of television, Jones said, recalling how his brother-in-law visited a TV station manager a dozen times -- refusing to give up on his vision -- before he was put on the air.

"Rex had a faith like I'd never seen," Jones said. "It was a gift."

Humbard began with a renovated theater in 1953 and later the $4 million domed Cathedral of Tomorrow. The broadcast of the same name developed into a mixture of preaching and music.

By 1970, his syndicated program appeared on more TV stations in American than any other. By 1979, the show was broadcast worldwide.

At Sunday's service, Larry Gatlin performed "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and "I'll Fly Away," which had the audience clapping and singing along.

A private burial was planned for Monday at Rose Hill Burial Park in Akron.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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