JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Prominent Jacksonville Pastor R.J. Washington has died at 54. News4Jax was told that he died of cancer.
Washington, a Jacksonville native, was the pastor at the Titus Harvest Dome Spectrum in East Arlington. Until recently, WJXT aired their Sunday morning services.
Three people attended his first ministry in 1985, according to rjwashington.org. Titus Community Outreach Harvest Center was built in 1990, where Washington attracted a congregation of 8,000 people, according to his bio on Daystar.com .
The church moved to the Titus Harvest Dome Spectrum, a larger facility on Atlantic Boulevard, in 2002.
Washington graduated from C.H Mason Bible College and Florida State Community College. During his career, Washington preached on seven continents, according to his biography.
Washington leaves behind his wife, April, who he married in 1982, and their three children.
The beloved pastor also leaves behind a legacy of love for his community and a lasting impact on his friends, followers and the entire city of Jacksonville.
"He was actually one of the first pastors I met when we moved here from Detroit, Michigan. (I) learned right away he was a guy doing dynamic things. (He) made a tremendous impact on our city," Bishop George Davis of Impact Church said. "Heaven has gained a great member of the angelic host there, but our city, Jacksonville, lost a great giant in the faith in his transition."
A Jacksonville pastor said Washington was an early inspiration in his career and called him a father-figure in his life.
"He was my leader in the Gospel. He taught me deeper knowledge. He taught me it was all about the soul's difference in people’s lives," Pastor Toye Whitaker said. "I'm able to take what he taught me and what he instilled in me and instill the same thing in my children. He was a positive influence in showing what a pastor, what a real man, a powerful man of God, should be."
Bishop Rudolph McKissick Jr., who leads downtown’s Bethel Church, called Washington a friend in ministry, and life. He also noted Washington’s integrity.
"In a day and time when ministers are looked at with a jaundiced eye, he was so transparent that people just trusted him," McKissick said. "I would hope that if the times comes, I've made the kind of impact on people, on the nation, from my humility and transparency that R.J. Washington did."
Rodney Sumter, who survived the Pulse Nightclub shooting last summer and posted about Washington’s death on Facebook with a picture from when he received a visit from Washington.
NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders tweeted his condolences.
All three faith leaders told News4Jax that they had never heard someone say a bad thing about Washington. They also expressed their admiration for the man who they say changed the world around him.