Pastor Chuck Smith Dies of Cancer at 86

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Chuck SmithChuck Smith, the evangelical pastor whose outreach to hippies in the 1960s helped transform worship styles in American Christianity and fueled the rise of the Calvary Chapel movement, died Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, after a battle with lung cancer. He was 86.

Diagnosed in 2011, Smith continued to preach and oversee administration at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (California), where he’d been pastor since 1965. In 2012, he established a 21-member leadership council to oversee the Calvary Church Association, a fellowship of some 1,600 like-minded congregations in the United States and abroad.

Smith was known for expository preaching as he worked his way through the entire Bible, unpacking texts from Genesis through Revelation and offering commentary along the way.

On New Year’s Day 2012 during Sunday services, Smith stunned his congregation when he announced that he was diagnosed with lung cancer. However, since his announcement he continued to maintain his schedule of giving Sunday sermons, mid-week Bible studies, and co-hosting the radio show, Pastor’s Perspective.

Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Fellowship Church in Riverside, who was one of many Christian leaders influenced by Smith’s teaching, stated, “Rarely does a man come along that impacts a generation, but Chuck Smith was that man.”

He added, “I can’t help but think of the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.’ (2 Tim 4:7-8)”

Laurie, who was encouraged by Smith to launch Harvest Crusades more than 20 years ago, wrote on his Facebook page that there is much more he will say in the days ahead, “but for now let’s remember to pray for Chuck’s family and his congregation, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.”

“Chuck is now in Heaven, and he will certainly hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant … Now enter the joy of the Lord!” (Matt.25:23)

On New Year’s Day 2012 during Sunday services, Smith stunned his congregation when he announced that he was diagnosed with lung cancer. However, since his announcement he continued to maintain his schedule of giving Sunday sermons, mid-week Bible studies, and co-hosting the radio show, Pastor’s Perspective.

Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Fellowship Church in Riverside, who was one of many Christian leaders influenced by Smith’s teaching, stated, “Rarely does a man come along that impacts a generation, but Chuck Smith was that man.”

He added, “I can’t help but think of the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.’ (2 Tim 4:7-8)”

Laurie, who was encouraged by Smith to launch Harvest Crusades more than 20 years ago, wrote on his Facebook page that there is much more he will say in the days ahead, “but for now let’s remember to pray for Chuck’s family and his congregation, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.”

“Chuck is now in Heaven, and he will certainly hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant … Now enter the joy of the Lord!” (Matt.25:23)