Pastor Bill Lenz, who founded Christ the Rock Community Church in Menasha, Wisconsin, took his own life after struggling with depression in recent months. He was 60.
The beloved pastor was known for his singular openness and compassion, according to the Post-Crescent. His colleague, Executive Pastor Curt Drexler, could not be more heartbroken by Lenz's suicide.
"Bill was very open about things that he was going through," said Drexler, who has been with the church for more than 30 years. "That's what made this so maddening and so confusing because he either didn't or couldn't share some of the deepness of what he was wrestling with."
Drexler said Lenz preached about authenticity. He always told the congregation that they should be honest with God, others, and oneself. Lenz used to share the challenges he was facing, which encouraged church members to come forward with their own issues.
"Ironically, he would constantly say there is always hope, there is always hope no matter what your condition is, there is always hope," Drexler continued. "And he would constantly encourage individuals who were struggling privately to continue to confide in a close friend ... just talk about it. Don't wait for it to make sense, don't assume you can handle it yourself. Just be open with someone, doesn't have to be a lot of people, it can just be one."
The church announced Lenz's death on a Facebook post "with heavy hearts." They revealed that Lenz was seeing a counselor and doctor for the last three months, and he also reached out to friends for help. Sadly, the depression overwhelmed the pastor, so much so that it prompted him to take his own life.
However, the Christ the Rock Community Church refuses to let suicide be the legacy of Lenz, who gave hope to countless people during their darkest hours.
"We remember him as a man with an immense heart for the lost and the hurting, who loved God and lived to serve Him and others. Bill brought the hope of Jesus Christ to thousands of people during more than 35 years of ministry," they wrote. "In light of those truths about Pastor Bill, it is unbearably difficult to comprehend how he could lose sight of hope himself. We are left with many questions and deep sorrow for our dear pastor, leader, brother and friend. Please pray for his family and our church family."