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Pastor Rick Warren, family choose private memorial for son

April 09, 2013|By Joseph Serna
  • Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church.
Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

Pastor Rick Warren’s family has opted for a private memorial service for their son Matthew, who killed himself late last week at their Orange County home, a church spokeswoman said Tuesday.

“Your kind words and sensitive notes to Kay and me have been such a blessing and encouragement,” Warren said in a statement. “Many are asking about a funeral, and our family decided on a simple private memorial.

"Please continue to pray for the entire family.”

Warren is pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and a nationally known evangelist and author of "The Purpose-Driven Life." Warren also oversaw President Obama’s 2008 inauguration invocation.

Matthew Warren, 27, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Orange County coroner said. His death was announced over the weekend by his father.

On Saturday, Warren's emotional message to his congregation paid tribute to his son, who he said died after battling mental illness.

"Today after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his own life," Warren said.

The death at the younger Warren's home on Pradera Drive in Mission Viejo was reported to Orange County Sheriff’s Department officials about 5:25 p.m. Friday, said Supervising Deputy Coroner Dan Aikin.

In his statement to his congregation, Warren talked about how "only those closest knew that [Matthew] struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, even suicidal thoughts."

He described his son as a "kind, gentle and compassionate man" with a "brilliant intellect" and who was sensitive to the needs of others.

"Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of his relentless pain. I'll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said, 'Dad, I know I'm going to heaven. Why can't I just die and end this pain?' but he kept going for another decade."

Among those offering condolences was Harvest Christian Fellowship leader Greg Laurie, who tweeted followers to join him in a prayer for Warren and his wife.

Laurie, whose adult son Christopher was killed in a 2008 car crash, noted on his blog that he had experienced similar pain. "At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word," he wrote.

The Christian Post reported that Laurie was joined in condolences by a host of other religious leaders, including Will Graham, the grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham.


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