HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) -- "One of our core values is that Long Hollow will never settle for low impact in our community. Even despite the difficult season, David led our staff to continue pushing hard and moving forward to reach our world with the hope of the Gospel," said Eric Murrell, communication director for Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.
Pastor David Landrith died the morning of Nov. 18, succumbing to colorectal melanoma after a year and a half of surgeries and experimental treatments to eliminate the rare cancer.
The congregation and the community are devastated, but also lastingly impacted by Landrith's life and passion for the lost. Despite the diagnosis of cancer in March 2013, Landrith led his congregation to its most successful evangelistic effort ever, baptizing 1,000 new converts in a single year -- the first Southern Baptist congregation in Tennessee to reach that mark.
"Anyone who knew David would tell you that he was constantly caring for those around him," Murrell told Christian Examiner. "David was the kind of pastor who seemed to remember everyone's name, family, and story. He was unusually relational and cared deeply for everyone he knew."
His blend of serving and leading helped Long Hollow grow from about 300 members when he arrived in 1997 to about 7,500 worshippers on five Nashville-area campuses engaged in ministries on three continents today.
"He was a passionate, steadfast leader who always had Long Hollow on his mind, even in his last days, "Murrell said. "After a treatment session or rough patch [he sent] texts about how he could help promote the ministry going on at Long Hollow in his absence."
"I've never known a pastor so loved by the people he serves," former college roommate, Lance Taylor said.
Taylor is executive pastor at Long Holllow.
The two attended Belmont College in Nashville, Tenn., where Landrith majored in history, a subject he was passionate about. Landrith later attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he obtained a master's degree in divinity studies and first felt called into pastoral ministry.
"He had a God-given ability to keep people together," Taylor said. "In all the growth and changes through the years, God used him to keep our church moving together in the same direction. In the 16 years I served alongside of David at Long Hollow, we enjoyed exceptional unity because of his leadership."
Landrith, a married father of three is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and their children: Rachel (25), Sam (20), and Josh (18); as well as his parents, Horace and Shirley Landrith; and his brother, Hal Landrith.
Congregation and community members are invited to share personal memories about Landrith. Funeral details have not been released, and representatives are directing those with questions to the church's website.