A North Carolina pastor, Robert McKeehan, was found hanging inside his home in what is the latest tragedy surrounding church leaders. Currently there are no solid clues as to why this 42-year-old pastor would take his own life. He left a wife, two children and his Community Bible Church family in a state of confusion and grief.
High Point Police Department reported McKeehan was found hanging by his neck and unresponsive. The report stated after multiple attempts by paramedics to revive the pastor, he was pronounced dead at 8:43 p.m. from the apparent self-manipulated hanging.
Chairman of the church’s elder board, Richard Curtis, said of course the church is sad and there is a lot of numbness and grief; Community Bible Church will be poorer for the loss. The congregation struggled with the news of losing their leader during an emotional Sunday service which left many questioning why McKeehan would do such a thing. Curtis went on to say they are trying to help people understand that even though this is not the path they would have chosen for their leader they know God is sovereign and they are still going to praise and worship him.
Curtis realizes the reason McKeehan took his own life will always be one of those secret things. Although he cannot explain it, he says he does know that God has given them the promise of Romans 8:28 which reads, “God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him.” The chairman said this has been proven in times past and there is no doubt that God will once again prove this to be true as the church moves past the question of why.
The reality, explained Curtis, is they will never understand exactly why that occurred. He said pastors are just like those they lead; they are human and subject to the same struggles, trials and emotions. Their call to lead or pastor people does not exempt them from the pain everyday life.
According to many counselors, the Christian culture is the perfect breeding place for depression. Within these confounds most pastors are either unwilling or unable to get the help they need and feel forced to suffer in silence. Frustration without the proper outlet can lead to feelings of failure and despair. It is these times of personal crisis that suicides are born due to the lack of support that pastors need.
The job of a pastor is extremely stressful and can be a high-profiled job. When the stress is not managed properly it becomes easier to understand how this can send a person down the road to depression. Too often the bar is set so high for these clergy men and women, they tend to get frustrated and feel as if they cannot and will not ever be able to live up to the standards associated with leading others in ministry.
An article from 2010 in the New York Times states 57 percent of pastors said they would be happy to take another job if they were qualified; 45 percent said they have been depressed to the point of needing time off but could not afford to take off or could not express the need for it; 33 percent said within the first five years they felt a sense of burnout and 25 percent have reported they did not know where to go for help when they were dealing with personal conflicts.
McKeehan’s wife, Elizabeth, posted a request for prayers on his public Facebook page. She wrote their hearts were sad for their earthly loss while joyful for heaven’s gain. She continued by informing his “Facebook friends” that Robert McKeehan had finished his race and entered into God’s presence on Friday night. In her conclusion Elizabeth said she and their children, John and Scarlett, along with their families desire prayers for peace and comfort in the days, weeks and months ahead.” This post attracted more than 200 messages of support from church members, friends and acquaintances, all in shock.
Robert McKeehan from High Point, North Carolina was found hanging inside his home in what is the latest tragedy surrounding church leaders. This 42-year-old pastor leaves a wife, two children, family, friends and his Community Bible Church family in a state of confusion and grief. Pastor McKeehan’s celebration of life service was held on Wednesday, April 16 at First Wesleyan Church located at Providence Place in High Point.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)