By BosNewsLife Americas Service
WASHINGTON, USA (BosNewsLife)– Pastor Chuck Smith, one of the most influential figures in modern American Christianity and a key figure in the ascent of mega-churches, died Thursday morning, October 3, after losing his two-year battle against lung cancer, church officials said.
The founder of the Jesus People and the Calvary Chapel movement passed away at his home in Newport Beach at the age of 86.
Smith began pastoring at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, Calif., in 1965, and was known for his less formal and contemporary approach to worship and church services, Christians said.
His ministry continued to grow until his death.
In 2012, after he announced to his congregation he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, Smith established a
21-member leadership council to oversee the Calvary Chapel Association, a fellowship of more than 1,600 congregations in the United States and worldwide.
BRIDGING GENERATION GAP
Church observers said he was praised for bridging the “generation gap” that existed during the Vietnam War era. He was popular among the “hippie” culture, embracing the teachings of Christ and the Bible while shunning the traditional denominational ideology of the church.
Yet he was also seen as a Biblical literalist who believed staunchly in hell, Armageddon and the sinfulness of homosexuality. “But from the pulpit, and in person, he emanated a disarming warmth,” commented the Los Angelas Times newspaper.
His church was seen as sanctuary for a generation of counterculture refugees. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and a big,
benevolent smile. Smith also was involved in evangelistic events on the beaches of California and performed baptisms
in the Pacific Ocean.
He was the author of several books, including Why Grace Changes Everything, Charisma vs. Charismania, Effective Prayer Life and The Final Act.
Smith’s activities didn’t come without controversy, noted the respected evangelical Charisma News service. “In his 1978 book End Times, Smith predicted that the world would end by 1981. In his book Future Survival, he said, “[I] could be wrong, but it’s a deep conviction in my heart and all my plans are predicated on that belief’,” the agency recalled.
When the world didn’t end in 1981, many followers left his church.
In 1971, Smith helped to launch Maranatha! Music, a nonprofit outreach of Calvary Chapel composed of hymns and worship songs with a folk-rock style. Maranatha! is still alive today and distributed under Warner Music Entertainment.
Smith, who fellow believers said “went home to Jesus Christ” is survived by his wife, Kay, and four children, Chuck Jr.,Jeff, Janette and Cheryl.