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Charles T. Crabtree Enters Eternity

Former Assistant General Superintendent Charles T. Crabtree passed away Sunday following an extended bout with cancer.

Editor's update, Sept. 9 -- Charles Crabtree's celebration of life service will take place on Saturday, Oct. 3, at 11 a.m. (PST) at Destiny Church, 6900 Destiny Dr., Rocklin, California, 95677. For those unable to attend, a live streaming of the service will be available at destinyrocklin.online.church. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to one or more of the following ministries: www.Genostrong.com, www.onehope.net, and www.teamhoperide.com.

Charles T. Crabtree, former assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, surrounded by his family in his home in Roseville, California, passed into eternity Sunday following an extended bout with cancer. He was 82 years old.

Crabtree, a minister’s son, was known for his quick wit and powerful and anointed Pentecostal preaching. He and wife of 61 years, Ramona, who is a renowned pianist, made for a perfect ministry team. Before his passing, Crabtree’s children and grandchildren enjoyed several days together with him where he prayed for each of them. Hours before his passing, Ramona played his favorite hymns on the piano and ushered him into the presence of the Lord.

AG General Superintendent Doug Clay, who served as the national Youth director when Crabtree was assistant general superintendent, states: “Charles Crabtree distinguished himself as an anointed preacher and an outstanding leader. His life and sermons created a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come. The Assemblies of God is a stronger Fellowship because of Charles T. Crabtree.”

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and raised in Bangor, Maine, Crabtree was a graduate of Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, and was ordained by the Iowa District Council in 1962. He began his ministry as an associate pastor in Southern California and traveled as an itinerant evangelist from 1960 to 1963. In 1963, he was elected pastor of First Assembly, Des Moines, Iowa, and in 1974 became pastor of Bethel Church in San Jose, California.

Crabtree was appointed the Assemblies of God national director of the Decade of Harvest in 1988, where he began his service at the AG national office in Springfield, Missouri. In 1993, he was elected as the assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, a post he held with distinction for 14 years. Shortly after stepping down from AG leadership, he was named the president of Northpoint Bible College (formerly Zion Bible College) in Haverhill, Massachusetts, serving there until 2013.

Having traveled extensively throughout the United States and around the world in a wide variety of ministry engagements, Crabtree was a sought-after speaker with an engaging sense of humor. He also authored seven books covering subjects such as pastoral ministry, theology, church development, and discipleship. His latest book, a commentary on the Book of Jude, is titled Soul Care and will be released in the coming months.

Scott Hagan, president of North Central University in Minneapolis, served as youth pastor at Bethel Church for six years under Crabtree. Crabtree became his lifelong mentor and friend.

“He was a spiritual father to me,” Hagan says. “Not only did I begin my ministry life, but also my adult life under the guidance and mentorship of Pastor Crabtree. I took all of my ‘life cues’ from watching him.

“He was a statesman and a relentless student of God’s Word,” Hagan continues. “He challenged me as a young man and pastor to live a Holy life and to make the altar and the baptism of the Holy Spirit the centerpiece of my ministry. He taught me to love the lost in distant nations as well as to love the outcast across the street . . . He lived a life of unshakeable continuity. His death is sobering. We are truly ‘just passing through.’”

Thomas Trask, former general superintendent who served the same 14 years of executive leadership with Crabtree, had this to say about his friend: “Charles Crabtree is remembered as a prince of preachers, thoroughly Pentecostal, having a deep appreciation for his Pentecostal heritage.

“It was my great joy to have had the privilege of serving alongside Brother Crabtree as he served as assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. My wife, Shirley, and I have so many great memories of the times we shared travel with Ramona and Charles — preaching camp meetings, district councils, conferences, and so many other events.

“Brother Crabtree was a communicator par excellent with a great sense of wit. He was a dear brother, greatly loved; and he will be missed,” Trask says. “Heaven is sweeter as a result of the entrance of Charles Crabtree. He will hear Jesus say, ‘Welcome! Thou good and faithful servant!’”

In a 2007 Pentecostal Evangel article, following Crabtree’s announcement to retire as assistant general superintendent, the question was asked, “How would you like your ministry to be remembered?” Crabtree responded: “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted God’s will more than his own and who had absolutely no ego involved, but I did anything that God has seen fit to use me in.”

He is survived by his wife, Ramona; their three daughters: Renee Byerley of Nashville, Tennessee; Rachel (Bob) Silva of Roseville, California; and Rhonda (Gene) Roncone of Aurora, Colorado; 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren with three more on the way; and a sister, Charlotte Carlson of Redding, California. He was preceded in death by his brother, David Crabtree; sister, Hazel Hoskins; and a grandson, Geno Roncone, who passed away at age 23 in 2016 due to cancer.

Charles Crabtree will be laid to rest at a private family ceremony this week. Due to COVID-19, the date and time of a public memorial service will be announced in the near future. Memories and comments to the family can posted online by clicking here.

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.