COSTA MESA (CBSLA.com) — Orange County pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, died Thursday after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 86.
KNX 1070’s Vytas Safronikas reports Smith died in his sleep at 3 a.m. Thursday morning, according to Pastor Steve Mathum at the nondenominational Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.
Smith, who served as senior pastor at Calvary Chapel for more than four decades, was considered one of the most influential pastors in much of evangelical Christianity, and was known for his unorthodox outreach to young people that helped fuel the “Jesus movement” of the 1970s.
Since starting what began as a 25-person Costa Mesa congregation in 1965, Smith is credited with a movement that ultimately planted over 1,600 churches worldwide as part of the Calvary Chapel fellowship.
Smith announced that he was battling lung cancer in January 2012, but the prognosis at that time was unclear.
In addition to his senior pastor duties, Smith also served as co-host of “Pastors’ Perspective”, a daily radio call-in show with Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa pastor Brian Brodersen and Don Stewart.
Raul Reis, who pastors Calvary Chapel Golden Springs in Diamond Bar, said he came to Christ through Smith.
“As we learned the word of God, Chuck became my pastor,” Reis said. “It was just a real blessing to see that he really loved the people…it doesn’t matter who it was, he continued to love people, so he will be greatly missed.”
Cheryl Brodersen, Smith’s daughter and wife of Brian Brodersen, said on Twitter, “My dad is now everything he wanted to be and where he always wanted to be!”
No details regarding a memorial service were announced.