Former megachurch pastor Carlton Pearson moves to ‘comfort care’ as cancer endures

Bishop Carlton Pearson preaches a sermon in a photo published in 2006.
Bishop Carlton Pearson preaches a sermon in a photo published in 2006. | Creative Commons/Scott Griessel

Former megachurch pastor Bishop Carlton Pearson is now receiving “comfort care” as his advanced prostate cancer remains a “significant challenge,” his family has announced.

Pearson, who turned 70 in March, is an affiliate minister at All Souls Unitarian Church. He was once one of the most sought-after Pentecostal speakers in the U.S. before he lost his megachurch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 20 years ago for declaring there is no Hell but he still remains a respected voice in the Christian community, particularly among liberal thinkers.

“To all of you who love Carlton as a Friend, Teacher, Mentor, Pastor, and Bishop: Our dear Carlton was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 and was declared cancer free shortly thereafter. Just recently the cancer has returned and has been a significant challenge, especially in the last 120 days,” a statement from his family posted on his Facebook page said Monday.

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“Since his last post, we wanted you to be among the first to know that as a family we have invited comfort care on our team in this critical time. We have prayerfully and intentionally walked this journey with him as we all face our mortality,” they said.

Dr. Rodney Tucker, director of the University of Alabama’s Center for Palliative and Supportive Care explained to NBC News that “comfort care” doesn’t mean that medical care has been abandoned for those who choose it. The focus, he said, is to focus on alleviating the symptoms of an illness as much as possible.

“I think that using the term ‘comfort care’ is a bit of a misnomer,” he said. “Essentially when patients elect comfort care, they’re electing aggressive measures in terms of symptom control. It may be treatment for pain, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and so on. It also includes the location of care, so where the patient prefers, such as at home. But by all means comfort care is medical care.”

Pearson’s family said despite his health challenge, the beloved bishop remains “in good spirits.”

“He is in good spirits and indeed a tough human being to be ‘yet holding on.’ Thanks for your continued prayers and love. Many of you have asked how you can support Bishop and his family. First, please continue to pray. Carlton has asked that people pray that he would live out the ‘full number of his days,’” they noted.

 For those wishing to support him financially, Pearson’s family said donations can be sent to his cash app account at $NewDimensions2.

“At this time we are not scheduling visitors. Please honor our request for privacy during this intimate time as we adjust. Thank you for your sensitivity,” they added. “May we all do as he has taught us. … We must make the change, manage the change, and ultimately master the change.”

Pearson whose life is documented in the Netflix film "Come Sunday,” was raised in the conservative Church of God in Christ, the world's most prominent black Pentecostal denomination, and later founded Higher Dimensions Evangelistic Center in Tulsa in 1981. The church grew from 75 to more than 5,000 members, according to the Christian Research Institute.

In the late 1980s, he started the Azusa Conferences at Oral Roberts University and became a mainstay on Christian television.

But after he challenged the biblical definition of Hell, the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops Congress branded him a heretic in 2004 for preaching inclusionism, which the Christian apologetics ministry Got Questions calls the "old heresy of universalism re-packaged and given a new name."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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