The founder of the Calvary Chapel movement of churches went to be with his Creator and Savior this morning. Pastor Chuck Smith, pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (California) from which over 1,500 Calvary Chapels spun off, had been battling cancer. He was 86. We mourn the passing of a man who did so much to defend the authority of the Bible from its very first verse and to proclaim the gospel to millions of souls.

“I recall speaking at his historic Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa back in the 1980s,” declared Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis. “Over the years, he hosted many creation seminars. He was a great admirer of the late Dr. Henry Morris, cofounder of the modern creationist movement. Pastor Chuck, as we called him, was a great encouragement to all of us in biblical apologetics as we knew we had such a well-loved Bible teacher working alongside us.”

Pastor Chuck at the Creation Museum

Chuck Smith tours the Creation Museum

Ken Ham showing Pastor Chuck Smith through the Creation Museum last April.

Last April, Pastor Smith flew out from California just to visit Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum. Ken Ham blogged about the visit from this influential Christian leader, who, though elderly and somewhat fatigued due to his cancer treatments, was encouraged to see the gospel presented at the museum in a high-tech way.

Chuck Smith with museum guest

At the museum café, Pastor Chuck greets the wife of a Calvary Chapel pastor.

While walking through the museum, Pastor Chuck was spotted by some visitors. Some of them stopped him to share how much his ministry had meant to them. That included the wife of a Calvary Chapel pastor in Ohio (see the photo on right).

Mark Looy, one of the founders of AiG, used to live less than a mile from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. He recalls long lines of cars heading to Pastor Smith’s church for teaching events, musical programs, and evangelistic outreaches. Since the 1960s, Pastor Chuck had a reputation for sharing the gospel with the “down and outers” on the beaches and streets of California, as well as to business executives and many others.

Through the influence of Pastor Smith, many opportunities were opened for AiG to minister in Calvary Chapel churches throughout the world. In fact, this past weekend, Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge were privileged to speak at Calvary Chapel San Jose, near San Francisco. In addition, AiG’s Answers Mega Conference next year—through Pastor Smith’s efforts—will be held at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.

Chuck Smith tours the Ark Encounter property

Pastor Chuck, in the blue sweater, toured the property of the Ark Encounter last April.

While visiting the Creation Museum last spring, Pastor Smith spoke to the staff about the history of the Calvary Chapel movement. You can watch a recording of his talk and interview by going to Ken’s blog post.

Chuck Smith interviewed by Ken Ham

In front of the AiG staff last spring, Ken Ham interviewed Pastor Chuck.

His Impact Leaves a Legacy

In addition to numerous churches, various Christian schools and Bible colleges also came out of the Calvary Chapel movement that Pastor Chuck started. There are dozens of Calvary Chapel congregations in the UK (Ken Ham has spoken at the London church on two occasions), plus Calvary Chapels in other nations. Even though he was not feeling well, Pastor Smith did speak last Sunday at his church in Costa Mesa.

We know there will be many tears shed around the world today for this wonderful man of God and Bible expositor. But we can celebrate his incredible legacy and recognize that he is no longer suffering the effects of the Curse. We ask you to pray for God to comfort Pastor Smith’s wife Kay, their four children, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

At the time we posted this article, funeral arrangements were yet to be announced.

We encourage you to visit the website for Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa so that you can be better informed about this great Christian leader and the services planned for him.

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