Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, issued a response Friday morning to the tragic passing of Jarrid Wilson, a young pastor who died Monday by suicide.
In a video posted to his social media accounts, Moore revealed Wilson recently reached out to him via email, telling him he’d be in Nashville in the near future and was interested in meeting with the ERLC leader to discuss ways the church can better address mental illness and suicidal thoughts, particularly among Christians.
“I wish now that, rather than just getting that email from Jarrid, and saying, ‘Yeah, let’s talk’ … I didn’t know that he was personally grappling with this at the moment, but I wish I had, and I wish that I had stopped what I was doing and talked to him right now,” Moore said. “Because now, we can’t have that conversation about working together on suicide prevention. That was one thing I missed.”
Moore also offered his perspective on those who suggest struggles with mental illness disqualify an individual from ministry leadership.
“In reality, if you look at the people God has used over the centuries — how many of them have been people who have faced depression, anxiety, sometimes really, really deep depression and anxiety. That doesn’t mean that you’re not qualified for ministry. That doesn’t mean that you’re broken. It means you’re a human being.”
He went on to encourage believers to “do a better job” communicating with those around us — particularly people within the Christian community — that it’s OK to struggle with suicidal thoughts, anxiety, or depression, so long as you are seeking the necessary clinical and spiritual care.
“We need to bear one another’s burdens,” Moore explained. “There’s not one thing shameful about that at all.”
Wilson served for 18 months as an associate pastor for Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, the megachurch founded in 1973 by evangelist Greg Laurie, who played a pivotal role in the 30-year-old pastor’s own salvation story.
Wilson is survived by his wife, Juli, and their two young sons, Finch and Denham. If you would like to donate to a Go Fund Me campaign set up by a family friend of the Wilsons, you can do so by clicking here.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, or you just need someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you’re looking for counseling services in your area, consult the Christian Counselors Network.