Ministry of prominent Bahamas pastor to continue after fatal plane crash

The Bahamas ministry of prominent evangelist Myles Munroe, who was killed in a small airplane crash on Sunday, will continue, his close advisers said.

Munroe -- a well-known pastor, motivational speaker and evangelist -- was one of nine aboard the Lear 36 Executive Jet when it went down as it attempted to land in Freeport Sunday evening, officials said. All those aboard were killed.

The crash occurred as Munroe and others were gathering in Grand Bahama for the 2014 Global Leadership Forum. On the Facebook page of Munroe's ministry, a message stated that the forum will go on as scheduled.

"We would like to inform you that the Global Leadership Forum will continue," read the post. "This is what Dr. Munroe would have wanted. Please keep his family and the ministry in prayers."

Severe weather was likely a factor in the crash, Bahamas Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell said Monday. Heavy rain was buffeting the region when the Lear 36 Executive Jet struck a shipping container crane in Freeport as it tried to land, he said.

Mitchell said that a commercial Bahamasair flight making the same route, from Nassau to Freeport, had turned back because it was unable to land around the same time as the flight carrying Munroe and several members of his Bahamas Faith Ministries.

Munroe's wife, Ruth, was also on the plane, along with the pastor considered second-in-command at Bahamas Faith Ministries, Richard Pinder, as well as the group's youth minister and his wife and child.

The plane crashed in a section of the Freeport shipyard, leaving mangled body parts strewn across the scene amid heavy smells of jet fuel and hot metal, the Bahama Press reports.

Munroe, 60, planned to have dinner in Freeport about 90 minutes after his plane's scheduling landing with former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, a speaker at the event, Mitchell said.

"It is utterly impossible to measure the magnitude of Dr. Munroe's loss to the Bahamas and to the world," Prime Minister Perry Christie said. "He was indisputably one of the most globally recognizable religious figures our nation has ever produced."

Born in 1954 in the islands' capital of Nassau, Munroe founded Bahamas Faith Ministries International in the early 1980s after studying at Oral Roberts University, a Christian liberal arts school in Tulsa, Okla.

The charismatic pastor quickly became an influential religious leader among many evangelical Christians, giving sermons around the world and occasionally appearing on televangelist Benny Hinn's popular programs. He was also a motivational speaker and the author of numerous books, including the 2008 best-seller "God's Big Idea: Reclaiming God's Original Purpose for Your Life."

As news of the plane crash spread, members of his church were shown weeping on a Bahamas TV station or raising their hands in prayer. Fellow Christian pastors expressed shock.

"At times like these, I don't try to figure things out, I just know that all things ultimately figure into a larger and higher purpose that we may never fully understand in this present limited reality," Bishop Carlton Pearson, a high-profile U.S. minister who was a friend of Munroe's for 40 years, wrote on his Facebook page.

Meanwhile, thousands of visibly-shaken people gathered in Nassau at the Diplomat Center of the Bahamas Faith Ministries International, the Bahama Press reports.

Munroe is a best-selling author and lecturer, and has traveled around the world advising leaders in business, education, religion and other fields, according to his biography on the Bahamas Faith Ministries International website.

Munroe, who grew up poor in the Bahamas, was considered an inspiration for many people in the island chain and abroad, Mitchell said.

"He has really put his name on the world stage and helped the Bahamas achieve recognition for talent," Mitchell said.

Munroe and his wife have two children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.