Depression and Anxiety Claim Life of Lead Pastor Andrew Stoecklein

Pastor suicide Andrew Stoecklein

Pastor Andrew Stoecklein of Inland Hills Church in Chino, California, attempted to take his own life on Friday, August 25, 2018. Despite being rushed to the hospital and placed on life support, Stoecklein passed away on Saturday.

Stoecklein was the lead pastor at Inland Hills Church and leaves behind a grieving congregation and family. The church candidly alerted the community to the pastor’s distress and fight for life on their Facebook page on Saturday morning.

A prayer vigil was held Saturday evening for Stoecklein. He passed away that night.

Stoecklein’s wife, Kayla, announced her husband’s passing with a heart-wrenching update on Instagram. “It wasn’t the miracle I was hoping for but he is now in heaven with his dad, free of pain, free of depression and anxiety,” Kayla writes.

Last night, the love of my life, the father of my children and the pastor of our incredible church took his last breath and went to be with Jesus. It wasn’t the miracle I was hoping for but he is now in heaven with his dad, free of pain, free of depression and anxiety. . He was an amazing husband, he truly made me better, made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world, and he loved me so deeply. We fit so well together, we were one. He was an amazing daddy, his three boys are going to miss him so much. He had such a unique and special relationship with each of them. He was an incredibly gifted teacher, communicator, and pastor. He was special, one of a kind and will be missed by thousands of people all around the world. . Please pray for me and the boys. I don’t know how I am going to face this, I am completely heartbroken, lost, and empty. Never in a million years would I have imagined this would be the end of his story. . If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions, please tell someone. Please make sure you’re not alone, and please call a friend or family member before you make that irreversible decision. You are loved and valued more than you know! #godsgotthis

A post shared by Kayla Stoecklein (@kaylasteck) on

The church posted this update:

Inland Hills Church grieves with heavy hearts as our Lead Pastor Andrew Stoecklein was welcomed into Heaven on Saturday night after battling depression and anxiety. It’s not the outcome we hoped and prayed for, and today we grieve as a church family. In his time leading Inland Hills, Andrew reached so many with his warm wit, passionate heart for God, and teaching that always, always pointed others to Jesus. The loving husband, father, son, and friend that he was will continue to inspire us in leading others into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

And in this tragedy, we encourage anyone who is hurting emotionally to ask for help. If you or anyone else is struggling, the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255) is a potentially life-saving resource.

May we be a beacon of hope for the community, to rescue the hurting and honor the God that Andrew served so well.

Andrew, we love you. And we always will. #godsgotthis #inlandhills

Stoecklein lost his father to a battle with leukemia in 2015. Before his passing, the family launched a website (godsgotthis.org) to post updates on Dave Stoecklein and to encourage others. Dave and his wife, Carol, founded Inland Hills Church in 1991. Eventually, Andrew Stoecklein took over his father’s role of lead pastor.

A battle with anxiety and depression was cited by Kayla and Inland Hills Church as the cause of Stoecklein’s suicide attempt. Stoecklein had recently returned from taking a four-month sabbatical. On August 13, Kayla explained to the congregation that Stoecklein had been struggling with depression and that the couple deliberated whether or not to continue in ministry during this sabbatical. “He didn’t want to stop. He would have kept on going and going and going and it probably would have cost him his life,” Kayla said.

Several comments on the social media posts indicate his congregation (and the broader church community) sympathize deeply with Stoecklein’s condition. The church urged followers to ask for help if they or anyone they know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression.

Days after his passing, Kayla wrote a letter to her husband. She writes:

“You were right all along, I truly didn’t understand the depths of your depression and anxiety. I didn’t understand how real and how relentless the spiritual attacks were. The pain, the fear, and the turmoil you must have been dealing with every single day is unimaginable.”

Stoecklein’s death reminds us that crippling depression is something that can affect anyone—even pastors.

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Megan Briggs
Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for ChurchLeaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.

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