Originally posted at 9:32 a.m. Oct. 3, 2013.
While a worldwide community is saddened at the passing of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa Pastor Chuck Smith, at the same time there is celebration over a life lived well.
Smith died Thursday morning, according to Christianity Today, after a battle with lung cancer. He was 86.
Born Charles Ward Smith, "Pastor Chuck" as he was known died about 3 a.m. in his sleep, according to the Calvary Chapel website. The Costa Mesa church will be open for those who wish to come by for prayer and encouragement.
The church says there will be a private memorial for Smith as well as a larger public service to be announced.
Pastor at Calvary since 1965, Smith combined rigorous straight-through-the-Bible teaching with a more laid-back approach to music and style. This new style of church grew into a network of 1,600 like-minded congregations, wrote Christianity Today, and likely influenced thousands more.
Pastor John Randall at Calvary Chapel San Juan Capistrano – across from the Mission in its own historic building – grew up with Smith, attending Calvary Costa Mesa from 2 years old through adulthood, then took a job on staff, as a youth pastor – and a janitor.
“It’s been amazing relationship to have,” Randall said. “Chuck would always say you only have one life to live and it will be soon be past, but what you do for the Lord, that will last.”
Randall said he celebrates Smith’s life, which serves as his inspiration.
“He ran his race well, and I’m determined to run my race well,” Randall said.
Calvary Chapel was a small, existing church when Smith took the helm. Besides founding the Calvary Chapel movement, Smith launched Maranatha! Music in 1971, a pioneering record label designed to promote the "Jesus music" that his young followers were producing on the California coast, reported Christianity Today.
His ties extend to South Orange County, where his son, known as Chuck Jr., established Calvary Chapel of Dana Point, which morphed into Capo Beach Calvary and is now known today as Capo Beach Church.
Craig Whittaker, lead pastor at Capo Beach Church, became a Christian surrounded by thousands attending service in the tent that predated Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa’s permanent building.
He remembers walking out with girlfriend-now-wife Jeanne and shaking Smith’s hand as the pastor greeted everyone he could.
But the crazy thing was, the next week, Smith walked right up to the Whittakers to say hello and called them by name.
“I was blown away. He had such a memory and such a love for people that he would remember their names,” Whittaker said.
The local pastor later took a job at a grocery store, and Smith would come in from time to time and talk.
“He was personable in real life as he was at the pulpit. There was no difference,” Whittaker said.
Whittaker posted a note to all of Capo Beach Church’s Facebook fans.
“His last message said it all as he taught out of Romans 4:21 ‘and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.’ Thank you Chuck. You will be missed but your legacy will live on in the countless lives you have transformed,” Whittaker wrote.