Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., revealed that its senior pastor, David Landrith, has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer and is calling on the Christian community to hold him and his family up in prayer.
"We want to provide you with some information about Pastor David's health," executive leaders shared with the Long Hollow Church community in an online letter Friday. "David has been diagnosed with an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer known as colorectal melanoma. The cancer is still in stage one and there is no evidence that it has spread at this point."
"On Thursday, February 28, David had a colonoscopy after a previous exam revealed some abnormalities. The next day he had outpatient surgery to remove the spot that had concerned his doctor. Tests were ordered and on Tuesday, March 5, the results of a biopsy revealed the cancer. Additional tests were conducted the next day and the full extent of his condition was revealed at a consultation on Thursday, March 7. David is pursuing all available treatment options."
Long Hollow Church leaders have called Pastor Landrith's diagnosis "a shock to us all" but expressed faith that God would take care of the minister.
"For years, David has led us to trust God in every circumstance," Executive Pastor and long-time friend Lance Taylor said in a separate statement. "The way he is handling the news has already proven to be inspiring. I know God will use him to teach us about faithfulness. David wants nothing but God's glory to be made known through whatever happens."
As the news of Pastor Landrith's health challenge spread Friday, many Christian leaders publicly expressed prayers for the 49-year-old Tennessee minister.
"Pray for pastor @davidlandrith, diagnosed [with] a rare and aggressive cancer," tweeted Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. "Love you, my friend."
"Praying for my friend @davidlandrith," wrote Summit Church Pastor J.D. Greear. "Faithful pastor and wonderful leader."
Randy C. Davis, executive director-treasurer of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, also called for prayer and described Landrith as "one of the great pastors of our day."
Long Hollow's communications specialist, Cara Dyba, shared with The Christian Post that since publishing the news concerning Pastor Landrith at 10:30 a.m., the church has received thousands of online interactions via multiple platforms.
"There has been an incredible outpouring of support and prayer for Pastor David from the church and extended community. Most comments received include testimonies of how God has used Pastor David to change the lives of so many in the community," Dyba told CP via email.
"We anticipate large numbers in attendance across Long Hollow's five campuses this weekend. Whether Pastor David will preach this weekend is yet to be determined, but all five campuses will commit to prayer during the eleven regularly scheduled services," she added.
The communication specialist also said supporters have been signing up at a special page dedicated to the Landriths to pray for them and their needs around the clock. There is also information for those wishing to send the Landriths words of encouragement.
Church members and supporters have been asked to "pray for healing and comfort, and that [Pastor Landrith] and his family will experience peace during this time" and "that God will reveal His purpose and plan for all of us during this trial."
Landrith, who shares three children with his wife, Jennifer, is said to be in good spirits and full of faith. He has been serving at Long Hollow Baptist Church since 1997 and is the congregation's third senior pastor since its founding in 1977.
Usually quite active on Twitter, the Tennessee minister's most recent update, posted Thursday is, a re-tweet of a statement from Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church: "It's not wonderful that suffering happens, but it's wonderful that God can use it to help, bless, and encourage others."
Long Hollow Baptist Church describes itself as "an active community of Christ followers" that meets weekly in five locations in and around Nashville. The church is home to more than 9,000 members.