LOUISVILLE – The Rev. Lawrence “Larry” DeLong, senior pastor/head of staff at Valley Presbyterian Church in Green Valley, Arizona, died on Aug. 26 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A joint statement on the church’s website from the Rev. Diane Christopher, pastor of Discipleship, and the Rev. Paul Phillips, pastor of Care, reads as follows:
“We are shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden death of our senior pastor, Larry DeLong. We are grateful for all who have reached out to us with encouraging and comforting words. We pray for God’s grace to surround this church family and Larry’s family. As we grieve and begin to heal please keep us in your prayers. ‘The Lord answer you in the day of trouble’ (Psalm 20:1a).”
DeLong was interviewed last year by the Presbyterian News Service in his role as one of “the Transformers,” which he described in the article as “a sort of semi-official group within [the Presbytery] de Cristo that has been working for nearly 10 years to make de Cristo a more faithful presbytery.”
“It is with deep sorrow that we in Presbytery de Cristo heard the news of Larry’s death,” said the Rev. Brad Munroe, Pastor to the Presbytery, Grand Canyon and de Cristo Presbyteries. “Larry was a gifted teacher and visionary leader with an uncanny ability to root his actions in Reformed faith. He loved his church, Valley Presbyterian, and his Church, the PC(USA), and was an unwavering friend in ministry. An expression of our love for Larry as a brother and colleague is reflected in the presence of more than a dozen pastors, Commissioned Ruling Elders, social workers and a psychologist to provide a ministry of presence for the Valley congregation the Sunday following news of his death. Our prayers extend to his wife, Valerie, his children Sadie and Seth, and his church family in Green Valley.”
The Rev. Dr. Larry Greenslit, director of the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel (PCCMP), knew DeLong, a former Navy chaplain, when the two were stationed together during Greenslit’s first two years in the Navy.
“The Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel (PCCMP) extends its sympathy to the family and friends of Larry DeLong,” Greenslit said in a statement for the Presbyterian News Service. “He served the Navy for several years, and in so doing provided pastoral care to countless Navy personnel and their families. When the Lord called him to serve as a chaplain, he was quick to respond, ‘Here I am, Lord. Send me.’ We pray for those who loved him, that God’s grace and mercy will be abundant in this hour of grief.”
Services will be held Saturday, September 3, at 10:00 a.m. at the Valley Presbyterian Church, with the Rev. Diane Christopher, an associate pastor and good friend of DeLong’s for eight years, officiating, and the Rev. Dr. Andy Ross, a colleague and close friend, giving the eulogy.
by Emily Enders Odom, Presbyterian News Service
Read the Aug. 27 article in the Green Valley News.
A significant number of men and women in today’s military are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Read a Sept. 2013 article in Presbyterians Today, “The wounds of war,” to learn how churches can help returning veterans and their families heal from the stresses of deployment.