Former megachurch pastor Carlton Pearson has passed away at the age of 70, surrounded by family, after "a brief battle with cancer".
The 70-year-old rose to prominence as one of the country's most influential evangelical leaders but lost some of his popularity after deciding to reject the conventional concept of hell. His charismatic preaching style and frequent Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) appearances earned him international recognition.
Sharing the news on social media, his family wrote: “We are saddened to inform you that Bishop Carlton D'Metrius Pearson, one of the most popular and influential preachers in America and around the world, who sacrificed everything for a message of unconditional love and acceptance by God, died peacefully on the night of November 19, 2023, at the age of 70, after a brief battle with cancer that had returned after first defeating it 20 years ago.”
Pearson was hailed as a rising star in Pentecostal circles in the 1980s, leading him to establish the Higher Dimensions Family Church in Tulsa, eventually evolving into New Dimensions Church, with membership reaching about 5,000 by the turn of the century, according to the Christian Research Institute.
The music albums Azusa Conferences at Oral Roberts University were also his creation, from which he was nominated for multiple Dove and Stellar Awards, winning three Stellar Awards for 'Carlton Pearson Live at AZUSA 2: Precious Memories.'
However, his popularity decreased after challenging the biblical definition of Hell. The Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops Congress branded him a heretic in 2004, leading to his resignation from the board of regents of Oral Roberts University.
His family’s statement concluded: “He leaves a legacy of love through the multiplied thousands of lives he touched during his time on earth and the impartation of grace and mercy he preached and exhibited to everyone he encountered. The Pearson family would like to thank everyone for their prayers and continued support. They ask for and appreciate privacy during this challenging time.”
No date for his funeral has been announced yet.