Groundbreaking pastor, film producer Michael Catt has died after long battle with cancer


ALBANY, Ga. — Georgia pastor Michael Catt who showed Hollywood that wholesome family films can still be huge box office successes has died, his church announced on Monday. 

Catt, executive producer of the Christian movies Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous, had been battling prostate cancer and had taken a turn for the worse in May.

“Sherwood Church is saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Michael C. Catt, our bellowed fifth pastor who faithfully shepherded Sherwood for 31 years,” the church said on Twitter. “Join us in prayer for the Catt family and all those who knew Michael as pastor and friend.”

The Catt family had issued a statement in mid-May, saying doctors had found a tumor in the groundbreaking pastor’s brain stem.

“They do not recommend operating on the tumor,” they wrote. “Because of this, we have chosen to forego any future cancer treatments, with the goal now being to make him as comfortable as possible through palliative care for the few months he has left this side of heaven.”

Catt served as senior pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church from 1989 to 2021. The church developed into a regional, multi-generational and multi-ethnic congregation made up of people from more than 20 nations.

Along with his local church ministry, Catt started the  popular ReFRESH conferences held annually in Albany and various other locations across the country to encourage pastors and lay leaders. He also wrote the ReFRESH Bible study.

Scott Smith, communications director for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said Catt was a godly pastor who had a love for the church.

“He had a deft wit and a knack for storytelling, always with a spiritually profound punchline,” Smith said. “Dr. Catt was probably most known for having a heart for pastors. He wanted to see them encouraged and have long, fruitful ministries. As it turns out, he modeled that himself. Three decades in one church. That's pretty rare these days.”

Catt authored several books, including the best-selling Fireproof Your Life. But he is perhaps best known for Sherwood Pictures, which promoted the gospel to millions via the big screen.

“Michael’s goal as the pastor of a regional church in a rural part of Georgia was to change the world from Albany, Georgia,” according to his online biography. “While that may seem like a radical, even ridiculous, statement from a pastor in Southwest Georgia, it has, in fact, become a reality.”

Catt and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.

Social media quickly filled with condolences for the Catt family and remembrances of the beloved church leader, including from Southern Baptist Convention President Bart Barber.

“So thankful for the life and ministry of Michael Catt, whose ministry reached through the Southern Baptist Convention and far beyond," Barber wrote. "He faced his illness with a faith and confidence that made every word in Fireproof all the more real.”

Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow said "Michael had the ability to make you feel like you were his best friend when you were with him. He was a tremendous blessing to the Georgia Baptist family and will be missed."

Barry McCarty, longtime parliamentarian for the Southern Baptist Convention and professor at Truett McConnell University, said he’s “sad for those of us who will miss him for a short season here, but happy thinking of the perfect joy and rest that my friend has entered.”

Brad Whitt, pastor of Abilene Baptist church in Augusta, said Catt was an encourager to him and thousands of other pastors across the country, 

“He will be missed, but his legacy remains,” Whitt said in a tweet.

Among Catt’s leadership positions within the Southern Baptist Convention over the years, he served as a trustee with the International Mission Board.

“Dr. Catt has always been a champion for our IMB missionaries,” said IMB President Paul Chitwood. “We praise God for his life and the legacy that he leaves, even as we pray God‘s comfort for his family and church family.”