The Rev. Dr. William L. "Bill" Bennett, an evangelist and Baptist pastor behind the "Mentoring Men for the Master" ministry, has passed away. He was 93.
"Dr. Bennett was promoted to Heaven around 2 a.m. this morning," read an email Thursday morning by Thad Faulk, president and CEO of Mentoring Men.
"We are grateful for God's mercy towards him and grateful in knowing that he is now where he belongs. He is with Jesus and is being reunited with (his wife) Mrs. Doris, (sons) Philip, David, and the rest of his family who went before him."
Faulk told CP that Bennett had been diagnosed with Vascular Dementia.
Commenting on the longtime pastor's impact, Faulk stated, "Dr. Bennett's impact and influence is almost impossible to measure. He has pastored, mentored, equipped, and discipled countless men and women in over 60 years of ministry. Many of whom are pastors, missionaries, and ministry leaders, who are taking what they learned from him and are literally changing the world for the glory of Jesus!!"
StarNews Online reported on Thursday that funeral services for Bennett are being planned for Monday.
Bennett served 19 years as pastor of First Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He also served as campus chaplain and professor of preaching and pastoral ministries at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and founded Mentoring Men for the Master ministry in 2000.
The organization is aimed at teaching men how to be spiritual leaders in their homes and use the Bible in everyday life.
"Most men are not the head of their home at all," the evangelist once said, according to The Biblical Recorder.
"They don't even lead in prayer. We show them how to disciple their families."
Tributes have been pouring in for the influential pastor and author.
Jim Henry, former SBC president and longtime pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando, stated: "At New Orleans Seminary, he became my friend and taught me accountability, discipline and generosity. He mentored me in small things that ended up being big things.
"One day, he greeted me by asking, 'Brother Henry, have you prayed today?' What an unbelievable man! He had one of the brightest minds of any man I have ever known. We lost a treasure."
Bud Russell, minister of education and administration at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone, said that Bennett's mentoring helped him through some of the most difficult periods in his life, such as in 2012.
"The challenges and losses in our personal family, multiple tragedies that affected my family and our church family and community were compounded many times over," Russell said, noting that the evangelist used Scripture to help him through the darkness.
"His command of the scripture, an enormous amount of which he had memorized, maintained and used so fluidly was absolutely amazing," he continued.
"I seldom saw him open the Bible except for using it as a prop as most every text he used he quoted and many times those were multiple verses at a time. It was obvious that the Bible was Dr. Bill Bennett's most valuable earthly possession!"