Chuck Smith (pastor)

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Chuck Smith
Born Charles Ward Smith
(1927-06-25)June 25, 1927
Ventura, California, U.S.
Died October 3, 2013(2013-10-03) (aged 86)
Newport Beach, California, U.S.[1]
Cause of death Lung cancer
Nationality American
Education Life Pacific College
Alma mater Life Pacific College, 1946
Occupation Pastor
Years active 1965–2013
Known for Pastor and founder of Calvary Chapel
Notable work Love, The More Excellent Way
Spouse(s) Kay Johnson (m. 1947–2013; his death)
Children Janette Smith Manderson, Chuck Smith Jr, Jeff Smith, Cheryl Brodersen

Charles Ward "Chuck" Smith (June 25, 1927 – October 3, 2013) was an American pastor who founded the Calvary Chapel. Beginning with the 25-person Costa Mesa congregation in 1965, Smith's influence now extends to "more than 1,000 churches nationwide and hundreds more overseas",[2] some of which are among the largest churches in the United States. He has been called "one of the most influential figures in modern American Christianity."[2]

Early life and career

Charles Ward Smith was born on June 25, 1927, in Ventura, California, to Charles and Maude Smith.[3] He was the second of third children.

Smith graduated from LIFE Bible College and was ordained as a pastor for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. In the late 1950s, Smith was the campaign manager and worship director for healing evangelist Paul Cain.[citation needed] After being a pastor for a different denomination, he left his denomination to pastor a non-denominational church plant in Corona, California, and eventually moved to a small pre-existing church called Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California in December 1965.[4]

Calvary Chapel

In March 1968, Smith brought into his home the then-18-year-old pentecostal evangelist Lonnie Frisbee with his wife Connie. Chuck Smith paired him up with John Higgins who already had a Bible study going for youth; they started a Christian commune called "The House of Miracles." John and Lonnie went out into the community to reach its youth with the gospel during the early days of the Jesus movement.[5]

The church in Santa Ana grew and, as of 2006, was attended by 35,000 people and had spawned over 1,000 churches that have branched out as part of the Calvary Chapel fellowship worldwide. Smith has been called "one of the most influential Christian pastors in Southern California"[6] who "is known for training other prominent ministers."[7] Notable ministers who have been mentored by Smith include Skip Heitzig, Mike MacIntosh, and Greg Laurie.[8][non-primary source needed]

At its beginning, Calvary Chapel operated as a cross-cultural missions organization that bridged the "generation gap" as it existed during the Vietnam War period. Calvary Chapel was a hub of the "Jesus People" phenomenon that existed at that time and was featured in Time Magazine for its success among "hippies" and young people. Calvary Chapel pioneered a less formal and contemporary approach in its worship and public meetings; for example, it did outreaches on the beach, and baptisms in the Pacific Ocean.[9] Much of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) has its roots in Calvary Chapel worship music. Calvary Chapel's rolling commentary-style of preaching kept the Calvary Chapels close to the text of the Bible and was readily understandable by many hearers. Calvary Chapel developed its own internal training early for multiplication of church leaders and pastors; by pioneering a more informal and contemporary style in its church practices, Calvary Chapel reached large numbers in Costa Mesa, CA and expanded easily by adding many pastors and new congregations in many locations. The impact of Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel on evangelical Christianity is profound, widespread, and largely unheralded. Rather than being a teacher of systems and methods of growing large churches (elements of which frustrated him in his denominational experience), Chuck Smith taught the Bible at pastors' conferences modeling in word and deed what he felt was the critical core of Calvary Chapels.[citation needed]

A documentary, What God Hath Wrought, produced by Screen Savers Entertainment in collaboration with Smith, tells the story of Smith's life, the Calvary Chapel movement and its influence on modern-day Christianity.[10] In the film A Conversation with Chuck Smith (2013) Chuck Smith talks about his battle with lung cancer and other personal topics.

Chuck Smith is the author and co-author of several books; titles of his books include Answers for Today; Calvary Chapel Distinctives; Calvinism, Arminianism & The Word of God; Charisma vs. Charismania; Comfort for Those Who Mourn; Effective Prayer Life; Harvest; Living Water; The Claims of Christ; The Gospel According to Grace; The Philosophy of Ministry of Calvary Chapel; Why Grace Changes Everything; Love: The More Excellent Way; The Final Act; and others.[11]


In his 1978 book End Times, Smith predicted the generation of 1948 would be the last generation, and that the world would end by 1981 at the latest.[12] Smith supported his convictions again in his 1980 manuscript "Future Survival," postulating that from his "understanding of biblical prophecies... [I am] convinced that the Lord [will come] for His Church before the end of 1981." He identified that he "could be wrong" but continued in the same sentence that "it’s a deep conviction in my heart, and all my plans are predicated upon that belief."[13] Calvary Chapel held a New Year's Eve service in 1981 for their followers to wait for the end to occur in accordance with Smith's prediction. When the world failed to end, many disillusioned followers left the Calvary Chapel movement.[14][15][16][17][18]

Smith attracted criticism for drawing connections between disasters such as the September 11 attacks and divine wrath against homosexuality and abortion.[18][19]

Smith has also been criticized publicly with allegations that he has tolerated financial[20] and sexual[21] improprieties within the Calvary Chapel movement.

In 2006, Smith was instrumental in removing his son, Chuck Smith Jr., from ministry in the Calvary Chapel movement. The Los Angeles Times reported that Smith Jr. was dismissed when he raised questions about his father's theological beliefs and philosophy of ministry.[18]


In April 2012, Smith received the Men of Character Award from the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America.[citation needed]

Personal life

On June 19, 1947, just six days before his 20th birthday, Smith married Kay Johnson, who served as director of the women's ministry at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for many years. Smith's four children currently work or have worked in the ministry.[citation needed]

On December 27, 2009, in the early morning hours, Smith suffered a minor stroke in his home and was immediately hospitalized.[7][22][23] He recovered and returned to the ministry.[24][unreliable source?]

Chuck Smith announced during the New Years Day 2012 service that he had lung cancer.[6] In June 2013, Smith's doctors found that his lung cancer had morphed from stage three to stage four.[25] Smith died in his sleep from a heart attack around 3:00am on October 3, 2013, at his home in Newport Beach, California, at the age of 86.[26][27] He was interred at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana, California. After he was buried, his funeral was held at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, where more than 200 churches worldwide presently planned to show his tribute, live via webcast.[28] Smith is survived by his wife and four children.


  1. Vitello, Paul (October 13, 2013). "Chuck Smith, Minister Who Preached to Flower Children, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Goffard, Christopher (October 3, 2013). "Pastor Chuck Smith dies at 86; founder of Calvary Chapel movement". Los Angeles Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Goffard, Christopher (October 3, 2013). "Obituary: Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel movement, dies at 86". Retrieved October 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Newton, Gwen (Spring 1998). "Religious Movements Homepage: Calvary Chapel". University of Virginia New Religious Movements Archive. University of Virginia. Archived from the original on August 28, 2006. Retrieved January 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Frisbee, Lonnie; Sachs, Roger (2012). Not By Might Nor By Power. Santa Maria: Freedom Publications. ISBN 0978543319. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jaimee Lynn Fletcher (January 5, 2012). "Calvary Chapel founder battling lung cancer". Orange County Register. Retrieved January 6, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Famed Pastor Chuck Smith recovering". Retrieved December 18, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Chuck Smith and Tal Brooke (1987), Harvest, The Word for Today Publishers.
  9. "Time Magazine June, 1971: "The New Rebel Cry: Jesus Is Coming!"". June 21, 1971. Retrieved April 10, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "IMDB Movie Reference". Retrieved February 20, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Books by Chuck Smith". Retrieved October 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Smith, Chuck (January 1, 1978). End Times: A Report on Future Survival. Costa Mesa, California: Maranatha House Publishers. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-0893370114.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Future Survival by Chuck Smith, 1978
  14. Arellano, Gustavo (May 7, 2011). "Remembering When Chuck Smith Predicted the End Times--And They Didn't Happen". OC Weekly. Retrieved March 18, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Gorenberg, Gershom. The End of Days:Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount. p. 123.
  16. Abanes, Richard. End-Time Visions : The Road to Armageddon. pp. 326, 412–413.
  17. DiSabatino, David. The Jesus People Movement: An Annotated Bibliography and General Resource. Bibliographies and Indexes in Religious Studies. p.68
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Goffard, Christopher (September 2, 2006). "Father, Son and Holy Rift". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 1, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. LOBDELL, WILLIAM (September 22, 2001). "In Aftermath of Attacks, Talk of 'End Days' Soars". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 1, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Moll, Rob (May 8, 2006). "Unaccountable at Calvary Chapel". Retrieved August 29, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Moll, Rob (February 16, 2007). "Day of Reckoning". Retrieved August 29, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Pastor Chuck Smith Hospitalized After 'Mini Stroke'". Retrieved December 18, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "After suffering a couple of 'minor strokes' Chuck Smith is recovering". Retrieved December 18, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Feel The Love: Pastor Chuck Smith and Love Song on Tour". September 16, 2010. Retrieved December 18, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Alex Murashko (June 24, 2013). "Pastor Chuck Smith Suffers Setback in Battle With Lung Cancer". The Christian Post. Retrieved August 20, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Charles Ward Smith". Retrieved October 3, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Chuck Smith, 86, Dies After Cancer Battle". Retrieved October 3, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Honoring Pastor Chuck Smith", Calvary Training, October 19, 2013

External links