Members of the Titus Harvest Dome Spectrum Church in Jacksonville, Florida, are set to bid a final farewell to their beloved late pastor, R.J. Washington Sr., Saturday after his tragic death from an unspecified cancer on Tuesday.
His family announced Wednesday that a homegoing celebration will take place at the church located at 12335 Atlantic Boulevard in Jacksonville. A burial service is also set for Monday, May 22 at 12:00 p.m.
Prior to his death at 54, Washington grew the church from a handful of members in 1985 to more than 8,000 members today. He also reached an audience of millions through his televangelism via popular cable networks such as BET and Daystar Television.
His death has attracted reactions from celebrities such as former NFL star and pastor Deion Sanders.
On Wednesday, church members discussed the issue of succession at their Bible study and the late pastor's brother, Abraham Lincoln Washington, said they would continue winning souls, according to News 4 AJAX.
"Our goal is to continue the vision. It's always been about trying to win souls for the kingdom; loving, helping, and serving our fellow man. And the church will follow the vision of Apostle Washington," said Abraham. "We're going to continue to shepherd the flock, so many people that Apostle Washington has touched all over the country. Locally, it will be my privilege to be able to serve this congregation, serve the first family and to do all we can to give the city direction."
In a statement Wednesday, Pastor Washington's family recalled him as a "voice for humanity and an oracle of faith."
"This devoted man of God has led many in victory through his teaching and impartation. His slogan for years was, 'To the uttermost Jesus saves and he wants you to live!' We have lost a giant of hope and a man of impeccable honor," his family said.
Bishop John Guns of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church commented, "His impact is that he went into difficult and tough communities and he helped people. Thousands have been touched by his work and his ministries."
At the church on Wednesday, Pastor Washington's brother acknowledged his exemplary life and encouraged members to focus on that legacy.
"Tonight gives us a chance to praise God for his life. We get to tell God thank you for how he had touched us through him," Abraham said. "So many people have been touched by Apostle Washington's love, laugh and his concern for people."
For people like Pastor Toye Whitaker, Washington was a true example of how a pastor should live.
"He was my leader in the gospel. He taught me deeper knowledge. He taught me it was all about the soul's difference in people's lives," she told News 4. "I'm able to take what he taught me and what he instilled in me and instill the same thing in my children. He was a positive influence in showing what a pastor, what a real man, a powerful man of God, should be."
Pastor Washington earned three advanced degrees, including a doctorate of divinity, during his lifetime. He leaves behind three children and wife April as well as other family members.