Amid speculation about his death, the family of Bishop Carlton Pearson has revealed that the progressive Christian leader and former megachurch pastor has entered comfort care. Pearson, 70, has been battling advanced prostate cancer for several years.
Pearson’s family revealed in a statement published on Facebook 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.”
“He is in good spirits and indeed a tough human being to be ‘yet holding on,'” the statement added.
Comfort care is a term often used interchangeably with hospice care. Although hospice care can be a part of comfort care, the latter often focuses on controlling symptoms, easing pain, and improving or maintaining quality of life. Comfort care is commonly given to patients who are nearing death but is also offered to those who have chronic, incurable illnesses.
Bishop Carlton Pearson was diagnosed with cancer in 2001and it eventually went into remission. However, the cancer returned and has been especially challenging in recent months, according to his family.
The Pentecostal preacher, previously one of the most famous American Christian speakers, founded the Higher Dimensions Evangelistic Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1987. His church grew to become one of the largest churches in the country before an eventual downfall due to theological differences.
By the early 2000s, Pearson began to feel the repercussions of openly challenging traditional Christian doctrines of hell and the afterlife. He caused a stir when he started preaching the “Gospel of Inclusion,” in which he insisted that there is no hell. He reportedly lost about 3,500 congregants, was eventually fired from his church, and was shunned by many colleagues.
In 2008, Pearson published a book explaining the doctrine, which he attributed to “a revelation from God.” In The Gospel of Inclusion book, Pearson argues that “we are all bound for glory, everybody is saved, and if we believe God loves all mankind, then we have no choice but to have the same attitude ourselves.”
The 2018 Netflix film “Come Sunday” dramatizes Pearson’s story and journey from being one of the most popular Pentecostal preachers in the United States to being ostracized by his church for preaching the belief that there is no hell.
Although he was branded a “heretic” by some, Pearson remained influential with various Christian communities. He was most recently an affiliate minister at All Souls Unitarian Church and maintains an online program called Expanded Consciousness. Bishop Carlton Pearson made brief pre-recorded remarks from his hospice room for the October 31 online broadcast of the program, available here.
Pearson’s family published their statement on Facebook on October 30, 2023. It appears in full below.
From the Family of Carlton D. Pearson:
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. 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.
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.” We agree with him! As well, if you’d like to continue to support Bishop financially, you can send gifts to his cashapp $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.
May we all do as he has taught us… We must make the change, manage the change, and ultimately master the change.
All Love and Prayers.