(Photo: Saddleback Church via Christian Post)
Pastor Rick Warren cancelled plans to be a part of a live webcast interview discussing the subject of grief after his son's suicide with LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer during a major church planting conference in Orlando on Tuesday.
Warren made the cancellation announcement via Twitter: "#Exponential13 Sorry I'm unable to have my heart-to-heart with you pastors I love today but the media heard so I pulled out."
Warren, who has not made a public appearance since his son's death on April 5, was scheduled to be interviewed by Stetzer on his webshow, "The Exchange," hosted at the Exponential 2013 conference on Tuesday, The Christian Post learned from LifeWay Research Monday.
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.
Stetzer told CP via email that he was notified by Warren early Tuesday morning that the Saddleback Church pastor was not ready to speak about his loss in such a public forum. Stetzer said he encourages others to continue to pray for Warren and his wife.
The best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? has not granted an interview to the 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 initially 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.
"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."
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 recently tweeted, "In Crisis? Release your grief. Receive help from others. Refuse to become bitter. Refocus on what matters most. Rely on Christ!"