On the eve of their pastor's funeral, worshipers at Central
Presbyterian Church were urged to use the Rev. Timothy Brewer's
suicide to "bond us more closely together in a family of love."
"We are a family," the Rev. John D. Splinter, associate pastor
of the church, told a standing-room-only gathering at one of three
church services Sunday morning, "and we believe in God."
The Rev. Austin McCaskill Jr., also an associate pastor, said:
"Suicide is a sin; suicide is not a solution.
"There are eternal consequences, but we have got to remember
that, for us, there is always hope."
During the solemn, hourlong service, several people wiped tears
from their eyes as they remembered the handsome 36-year-old pastor
and father of three. Brewer's body was discovered Thursday
afternoon inside his car parked in the garage of his West County
home. Death was apparently caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
In a suicide note, Brewer said he had been fighting depression
and despair after losing part of his left leg in a train accident
earlier this year. Prescription anti-depressant drugs didn't stave
off depression, he said. "I feel like a drowning man," he said.
McCaskill told worshipers that by killing himself, Brewer
violated God's commandment of "Thou shalt not kill." As a result,
he said, "we have to realize Tim chose to forfeit probably
two-thirds of the reward he would have received" in heaven.
Still, McCaskill said, "when we who believe in God sin, we sin
as children. God does not un-adopt us.
"Tim is with Jesus Christ."
Also Sunday, worshipers received an insert in their church
bulletin, dealing with the issue of the sin of suicide. The insert
includes a section called "thoughts to remember," which contains
material on helping people deal with Brewer's death. Some of the
headings: "It's OK to cry," "Don't indulge in self-condemnation"
and "Forgive Tim and each other."
Between services on Sunday, church leaders continued to
struggle with the question of why Brewer - beloved by his church
family - would take his own life.
They described him as a man who seemed so thoroughly depressed
in the suicide note that he had lost touch with reality.
"The words in his letter are the words of a sick man," said
Vern Schneider, a church elder.
Questions About Prozac
Both Schneider and Elder Robert Fulstone speculated whether
there was something else - perhaps prescription drugs - that had
helped push him into the decision to kill himself. In his suicide
note, Brewer said that a local psychiatrist had put him on Prozac,
an anti-depressant drug.
But a local psychiatrist and psychologist said Sunday there is
no chance that Prozac contributed to the suicide. …