Orange County pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, died Thursday after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 86.
Smith died in his sleep at 3 a.m. Thursday morning, Pastor Stevel Mathum at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa told KNX 1070.
Smith served as senior pastor at Calvary Chapel for more than 40 years. He is considered one of the most influential pastors in much of evangelical Christianity.
He is also known for his outreach to 'hippies' and other young people others wouldn't reach. His outreach helped fuel the "Jesus movement" of the 1970s.
Since 1965, the movement that began with Smith's 25 person congregation planted over 1,600 churches worldwide as part of Calvary Chapel fellowship.
Evangelical leaders from across the country poured in their condolences through social media:
— Rick Warren (@RickWarren) October 3, 2013
Chuck Smith will be remembered by many, but he has influenced many more. http://t.co/5ffu3ksFCi — Ed Stetzer (@edstetzer) October 3, 2013
— Lee Strobel (@LeeStrobel) October 3, 2013
Pastor Chuck Smith has died. He is now in Heaven. He fought the good fight. He was a great man. http://t.co/DauBRtFWqi — Greg Laurie (@greglaurie) October 3, 2013
— Pastor Bob Coy (@pbobcoy) October 3, 2013
I'm exceedingly grateful today for the exemplary life and profound ministry of my friend, Chuck Smith. — Chuck Swindoll (@chuckswindoll) October 3, 2013
I hear Pastor Chuck Smith preached on the last Sunday if his life with an oxygen bottle. Wow. Courage to the end! #welldone
— Brian Houston (@BrianCHouston) October 3, 2013
Our prayers are with @calvarychapel and loved ones of Pastor Chuck Smith who passed away today after battling lung cancer. — BGEA (@BGEA) October 3, 2013