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Maranatha Chapel Honors Pastor Ray Bentley, Who Died from COVID-19 Complications

Maranatha Chapel in San Diego held special services this past weekend to honor senior pastor Ray Bentley, who died from complications of COVID-19, the church announced early last week.

“We are all in shock and heartbroken. We find comfort in knowing that he is rejoicing in heaven with his beloved Jesus. Certainly, he was welcomed with those beautiful words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’” the church said in a statement on Facebook.

His son, executive pastor Daniel Bentley, led a special service Saturday evening (Jan. 8) and Sunday morning.

Ray Bentley, who also hosted the daily worldwide Maranatha Radio show, founded Maranatha Chapel in 1984 when he taught a midweek Bible study in a recreation center with 30 people. Now, Maranatha Chapel, a nondenominational evangelical Christian church, serves 7,000 people weekly.

As the church grew, it moved to a local junior high school, where by 1986, more than 1,000 people were gathering for services. Four years later Maranatha Chapel dedicated its first facility on 4.5 acres in San Diego’s community of Rancho Peñasquitos. Their current facility on 15 acres in Rancho Bernardo was completed in 1997.

The church works in fellowship with Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. Through this “informal association,” the churches share “philosophical and spiritual values,” according to the church website.

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Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor Brian Brodersen wrote a tribute to Bentley, calling him a “dear friend and partner in the gospel.” Bentley, he said, was a “brilliant conversationalist” whose favorite subject was Bible prophecy.

“He was so immersed that the prophecies in Scripture and the world events that related to them just flowed from him as fluently as the English language,” Brodersen wrote.

Brodersen also wrote about Bentley’s love of Israel, “both the land and the people.”

“Ray believed that because the church had received spiritual blessings, such as the Messiah and the Scriptures, through Israel, it was the church’s obligation to bless Israel materially,” he wrote.

Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Greg Laurie said he was saddened hearing about Bentley’s passing, calling him a faithful pastor, husband, father and grandfather.

“Death does not have the final word, Christ does! Ray is alive and well in Heaven! He will be deeply missed. Pray for his family,” Laurie said on Twitter.

Alejandra Molina

Alejandra is a national reporter for Religion News Service where she covers Latinos and religion. Her work has appeared in the AP, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Press-Enterprise, and Orange County Register.