IRVINGTON - A beloved pastor who fought against violence in the community has been found dead in his Essex County church.

The Rev. Ron Christian was known for preaching to wanted murderers, drug dealers and other criminals. Christian would encourage them to do what was right and turn themselves in. He ran the Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington.

“When I heard he had died, it took something from me,” says Minister Thomas Ellis, with the Enough is Enough Coalition. “We had an awesome community working relationship against guns and violence.

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office says a family member found him dead Friday inside church office. He was 51 years old. The prosecutor's office says foul play is not suspected, but officials are awaiting autopsy results to determine the cause and manner of death.

“He was beloved in the community, he was beloved in these United States and he was beloved across the world,” says Assistant Pastor Reverend Alfreddy Fletcher.

Christian was a former heroin addict and previously worked as a prison guard. He turned to religion and became a pastor once he got clean.

Church leaders say that they will continue the reverend’s mission and keep his church alive and strong.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.