In the wake of this past weekend's tragic death of Matthew Warren, son of Pastor Rick Warren and wife Kay, Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, stressed the need for the church to address mental illness.
Along with shedding the shame and stigma that often accompanies mental illness, Stetzer recently wrote that he believes Christians need to address the issue of medicine relating to mental illness in the church.
The announced sermon for yesterday's services at Saddleback Church was titled, "Surviving Tough Times." It was a theme Pastor Rick Warren planned earlier in the week. He had no way to know how appropriate his subject would be.
Rick and Kay Warren's youngest child took his own life last Friday morning. Matthew Warren was "an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was an encouragement and comfort to many," a statement from the church said. "Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts. Despite the best health care available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled, and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life."
Christian leaders around the world responded with statements of support and intercession. On his Facebook page yesterday, Rev. Warren said, "Kay and I are overwhelmed by your love, prayers, and kind words." However, as USA Today reports, "a shocking number are taking this moment of media attention to lash out at Warren." Some are claiming that his son is in hell for committing suicide. Another told the pastor to "abandon primitive superstitions and accept the universe for what it is-a place that is utterly indifferent to us." more >>
Rick Warren has issued a memo to his congregation at Saddleback Church, thanking them for their overwhelming support during a time of "anguished grief" at the loss of his son, Matthew. It was announced on Saturday that Warren's son took his own life after suffering from mental illness for most of his life.
"No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now," Warren wrote in the memo. "Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today. Matthew was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many."
"But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided," Warren continued before stating that Matthew took his life "in a momentary wave of despair at his home." more >>
LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Saddleback Church members took their first step towards healing after learning the previous day from Pastor Rick Warren that his son had committed suicide: they wept together.
Already scheduled to preach the weekend services before the tragedy occurred, Associate Senior Pastor Tom Holladay, who is Warren's brother-in-law and often considered his right-hand man, told those attending church services Sunday morning that he had been asked to talk about a book that the lead pastor had been reading.
"[Warren] said 'there's this little book I've been reading and I would like you to talk to the church about this book – the points that are in this book – and the name of the book is How to Survive the Worst Day of Your Life'," Holladay explained to an overflow crowd of more than 3,500 and to those watching online. more >>
Members of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., came together this weekend to pray and worship, and "to be real" in facing the death of the 27-year-old son of their pastor, Rick Warren, after a lifelong struggle with mental illness.
The service at the church began with Tom Holladay, teaching pastor at Saddleback, praying for Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, on Saturday, the day the internationally known Christian leader announced that his youngest son, Matthew, took his own life after struggling with mental illness, deep depression and suicidal thoughts throughout his life.
After praise and worship, Holladay told the congregation that Pastor Warren had called him earlier during the week to request him to preach to the church during the weekend. When Holladay asked what he should preach about, and what was on Warren's mind, Warren said he wanted the teaching pastor to preach about what to do on the worst day of your life – not knowing that later that week he would face Matthew's death. more >>
The tragedy of the 27-year-old son of Pastor Rick Warren taking his own life after a lifelong struggle with mental illness calls for a commitment by Christians to help create space for and minister to those with mental illnesses, says the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
"Our collective heart stands broken as a result of Pastor Rick Warren's loss; the passing of his son Matthew. We pray for healing and strength for the Warren and Saddleback family," said one of the most influential evangelical Hispanics in America in a statement Saturday.
"Yet, this tragedy facilitates an opportunity if not an obligation for the Christian community to address mental illness," said Rodriguez on the day Warren, an internationally known Christian leader at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., made the announcement about his son. more >>