IRVINGTON, New Jersey — Family members found the body of beloved pastor Ron Christian inside the same church where he delivered his powerful sermons.
They found 51-year-old “Reverend Ron,” as congregants knew him, inside the Christian Love Baptist Church at 830 Lyons Ave. in Irvington on Friday morning.
A preliminary investigation found no signs of foul play, according to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray, but a full autopsy is pending.
Many who attended Christian Love Baptist — including celebrities like actor Michael K. Williams from “The Wire” — recalled fondly Christian’s electric delivery and larger-than-life persona.
Shocked congregants mourned his death Friday.
“I can’t believe this! Yesterday Rev Ron encouraged me to do the eulogy at my Dad’s funeral head at Christian Love Baptist Church,” mourned one woman on the church’s Facebook page. “He told me after the service that he was proud of me. I’m in total disbelief!!”
Rev. Ron began preaching in 1997 after turning over his life to God. Christian had battled heroin addiction and was imprisoned for theft in the early 1990s.
As a powerful speaker with a criminal record, Christian had the ability to inspire both the law-abiding and those wanted for serious crimes. After sitting down with Christian, it wasn’t uncommon for those on the run to turn themselves in.
Governor Chris Christie said he was deeply saddened by the news of Christian’s death:
“Ron was a warm and compassionate friend. In 2012, Pastor Christian opened the doors of Christian Love Baptist Church where he hosted me for a town hall in the Irvington community he served, an act that was emblematic of the way he lived his life and the work he sought to do. He was committed to opening doors and always keeping people moving forward in their understanding and love for each other. Mary Pat and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family, his congregation, and all of his loved ones today.”
A joint investigation by Irvington police and the Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force is underway.