DENVER (KDVR) – Reverend Dr. Jules Earl Smith led the Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in Aurora for decades.

Dr. Smith passed away late last month after a nearly-year-long battle with cancer. A Celebration of Life service was held in his honor Saturday evening.

Thousands remembered the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Smith, the pastor who led the church in Aurora since 1986. Family, friends, politicians and parishioners presided over the pulpit to remember their rock.

It is a monumental loss for the congregation. It’s a loss that reaches far beyond the immediate community.

Footage from the service shows people from across the world sending condolences to a man many consider a civil rights activist.

He was also, a doting family man, and many family members reflected on his legacy, including his daughter and granddaughter.

“I would sit in your lap and we would write our sermons, we would play restaurant with my toy kitchen, or when I would charge you $50 to do your nails,” his granddaughter said.

According to an online obituary, Reverend Dr. Smith valiantly battled two types of cancers, over the past year, which is something he alluded to in one of his final sermons.

“I’ve certainly been knocked down, but I haven’t been knocked out,” Reverend Dr. Smith declared.

He led the Aurora-based church for 36 years and leaves behind his loving wife, Dr. Ida Ruth Gice Smith.

Now, she and the membership of more than 3,000 have come together to move forward following their monumental loss.

For them, however, they’ve gained an angel.