October 11, 2013

Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel and Jesus People, dies at age 86

The pioneering Protestant pastor was theologically conservative and culturally avant garde.

By Christopher Goffard
Los Angeles Times

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Chuck Smith, the founder of the Jesus People and the Calvary Chapel movement, delivers a sermon in an undated photo. He was a influential figure in American Christianity.

Karen Tapia/Los Angeles Times/MCT

In recent years, the church was also embroiled in a legal battle over control of its multimillion-dollar network of radio stations. On one side was Smith. On the other was one of his proteges, Mike Kestler, who preached at a Calvary Chapel in Twin Falls, Idaho, and had been accused by female churchgoers of making sexual advances.

When Smith said he planned to surrender much of the radio empire to Kestler in what he characterized as a Christian gesture, one of Kestler’s accusers said she felt abandoned.

Smith was known for reading divine retribution into current events, such as earthquakes and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and he saw apocalyptic portents in the depravity of mankind and the various crises in the Middle East.

predicting the end of the world

He repeatedly predicted the end of the world, and his zeal for the notion seemed undiminished when it failed to materialize. “Every year I believe this could be the year,” he would say. “We’re one year closer than we were.”

Smith was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, and he underwent rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. He continued to preach at Calvary’s flagship church, a low-slung building on Sunflower Avenue at the border of Costa Mesa and Santa Ana.

Rolph said Smith would reach as many as 8,000 worshipers during three Sunday sessions, and many more on Calvary’s nationwide radio network. The flagship station, K-WAVE, ran tributes to Smith Thursday.

In recent months, Smith’s deteriorating health made his appearances at the church erratic. Last Sunday, he came to the pulpit attached to his oxygen hose.

“There was intermittent weeping throughout the congregation,” said Brian Brodersen, associate pastor at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. “I think people could sense this was probably the goodbye they were getting from their pastor.”

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