Rick Warren, the popular evangelical pastor and best-selling author,
will be teaming up with a Roman Catholic Diocese in California to lead a daylong event next month aimed at helping church leaders better care for parishioners suffering with mental illness.
The idea for the event, which will be called The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church, arose from private conversations between the 60-year-old founder of Saddleback Church and the local Catholic bishop, Bishop Kevin Vann, following the death of Warren's son, the Associated Press reported
In April of last year, Warren's 27-year-old son Matthew Warren committed suicide
after having suffering with mental illness and deep depression for years.
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"I'm certainly not going to waste this pain. One of the things I believe is that God never wastes a hurt and that oftentimes your greatest ministry comes out of your deepest pain," Warren said Monday during a conference with Vann to discuss the March 28 event. "I remember writing in my journal that in God's garden of grace even broken trees bear fruit."
Several months after his son committed suicide, Warren said the tragedy inspired him and his wife, Kay, to become crusaders for helping the mentally ill.
"I have cried every single day since Matthew died," Rick said last September. "But that's actually a good thing. Grief is a good thing; it's the way we get through the transitions of life."
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Attendees at the event can reportedly choose from among 20 interactive workshops where they can learn about a variety of topics from anxiety, eating disorders and addiction to bipolar disorder and suicide.
"When Kay and I began ministering to people with HIV/AIDS about a dozen years ago, I thought AIDS was the greatest taboo. But actually, I think mental illness is," Warren said in the conference. "And we want to remove the stigma."
"Our goal is, as we say, we crack the door open and then churches go, 'OK. If the diocese is doing this, if Saddleback's doing this, we can do this,'" Warren continued. "And we'd love to see a movement started where people actually begin to say, 'We need to see this element added to our local ministry.'"
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