Pastor Darrin Patrick, who founded The Journey megachurch in Missouri and served as a teaching pastor at the South Caroline-based multi-site Seacoast Church, died at the age of 49, the church said Friday.
“Darrin was target shooting with a friend at the time of his death. An official cause of death has not been released but it appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No foul play is suspected,” Seacoast Church shared in an update Friday evening after announcing his death earlier in the day.
The police investigation into the incident is ongoing and it's unknown whether the self-inflicted gunshot wound was "intentional or unintentional," a representative from the church told The Christian Post on Saturday.
Pastors Greg and Josh Surratt said in a message on the church's website that they first learned of his death Thursday night. "Pastor Greg has traveled to St. Louis to be with Amie and the kids. We are going to walk with them every step of the way through this – they are family," they added.
After learning about Patrick's death, J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, shared a message on Twitter, saying: “Mourning today the loss of my friend and fellow pastor @darrinpatrick. Darrin was such an encourager to me over the years. Sat at my table. Preached at our church. We know grief of Amie and family must seem unbearable. We love you and are praying for you.”
“Darrin was a good friend who spurred me on to be a better pastor and husband,” Robby Gallaty, pastor at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, said in a statement. “He used past experiences from burnout to put safeguards in place to keep the same from happening in my life. I’m am still stunned by the news.”
In an earlier statement Friday confirming the pastor's death, Seacoast Church said: “Darrin was a loved member of the Seacoast family, the teaching team, and pastoral staff and we are mourning his loss. Darrin had a gift for teaching the Word and a heart for encouraging other pastors. God allowed Seacoast to be a part of Darrin’s story in a time when he needed a family. He was a gift to us and we are thankful for the time the Lord gave him to us.”
The church added, “His influence and impact cannot be measured. We are surrounding the Patrick family with our prayers and support during this time.”
The church has started an online fundraiser to support the Patrick family. “As we process our grief and heartache, we want to provide a way for others to give assistance to the Patrick family, and show their deep love and appreciation for what Darrin meant to them,” it says.
Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, also issued a statement:
“When a personal tragedy like this occurs we not only grieve, but we also deal with so many other emotions,” Floyd said. “Once again, we realize that pastors are not any different from other people. We need relationships and friendships that help us walk through life and the challenges of leadership. The stress of ministry mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually is ever-present.”
In 2016, Patrick was fired from his position as pastor at The Journey for what his church described as “deep historical patterns of sin.” Patrick also resigned from his position as vice president of the Acts 29 Network, which plants churches globally.
While Patrick’s sins did not involve adultery, the church elders said at the time, he “did violate the high standard for elders in marriage through inappropriate meetings, conversations, and phone calls with two women.”
Patrick said he was devastated by his sins and apologized to the church.
“I am utterly horrified by the depth of my sin and devastated by the terrible effects of it on myself, my family and so many others, including all of you. I am so deeply and terribly sorry for the pain that my sin is causing you, as well as the broken trust that my sin has clearly produced. In short, I am a completely devastated man, utterly broken by my sin and in need of deep healing,” he said.
Responding to Patrick’s confession, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said at the time that Christians should not be shocked when pastors give into the temptation of immorality because sin is just an element of human nature.
An earlier version of this article published on May 8 said Pastor Darrin Patrick died of an apparent suicide. A correction was made on May 9. Police are still investigating and it's not yet known whether the self-inflicted gunshot wound was "intentional or unintentional," a representative from the church told The Christian Post.