(Photo: Georgetown University/Sarah Gormley)
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Pastor Rick Warren, originally scheduled to lead two Bible studies at a major church planting conference in Orlando this week, is instead scheduled to talk about his 27-year-old son's suicide during a live webcast hosted at the event Tuesday.
Warren, who has not made a public appearance since his son's death on April 5, will be interviewed by LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer on his webshow, "The Exchange." Stetzer will be doing the show at the Exponential 2013 conference and Warren will be speaking from another location. The interview session will be available on the Internet.
"I just want to give Rick the opportunity to share his hurt and heart," Stetzer told The Christian Post via email Monday. "Rick has been a friend for many years, and has encouraged me many times. I am hoping I can encourage him by giving him a moment and a place to share."
The best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? and pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., has been journaling his time of grief through the use of Twitter with regularity since a few days after the tragedy.
Warren did make a brief appearance through the live video application Skype during the All Access church leadership conference last week held in Jacksonville, Fla. He is scheduled to talk with Stetzer during the Exponential conference for about 20 minutes beginning at approximately 4 pm EDT.
Matthew Warren died at his home in Mission Viejo, Calif., of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had struggled with mental illness for much of his life. Warren and his wife, Kay, have started a foundation for mental health in their son's name.
Rick Warren has not granted an interview with media about the incident but has communicated with church members and followers through written statements, his Twitter account, and a short video last weekend prior to worship services led by evangelist Greg Laurie. Warren agreed to an interview with Stetzer about what pastors need to know about grief in their congregations, how his son's death has changed him, and what church leaders can do to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness, according to LifeWay Christian Resources communications manager Jon Wilke.
He recently tweeted, "In Crisis? Release your grief. Receive help from others. Refuse to become bitter. Refocus on what matters most. Rely on Christ!"
"The Exchange" is a weekly webshow hosted by Stetzer every Tuesday at 3 p.m. EDT. Stetzer interviews church pastors and leaders to discuss and discover trends in culture and ministry. Viewers join the conversation through a chatroom or Twitter hashtag and often have their questions answered live on-air.
Also on this episode, Stetzer will discuss discipleship with best-selling author Francis Chan and Robert Coleman, one of the world's leaders on the subject. Chan and Coleman will be interviewed during the first hour of the program with Warren's segment scheduled afterwards. The Exponential organizers say that as a church planting resource they aim to see "an expanding number of movements of healthy reproducing faith communities."
Tuesday's episode of The Exchange featuring Warren, Chan, and Coleman will be hosted at Live.Exponential.org.