LAKE FOREST ( — Evangelical megachurch Pastor Rick Warren returned to the pulpit this weekend for the first time since his son’s suicide 16 weeks ago.

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The church reached full capacity with more than 5,600 people present as Warren delivered his first sermon at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest on Saturday afternoon. Three additional services are expected to be held Sunday beginning at 9 a.m.

Warren, the author of the best-seller “The Purpose Driven Life,” sent an email to his congregation of more than 20,000 on Friday to alert them of his return. Both he and his wife, Kay, walked out to a standing ovation with tear-filled eyes.

The 59-year-old Warren’s return to the pulpit comes four months after his son, Matthew, committed suicide at his Mission Viejo home after battling mental illness and depression for most of his life.

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“For 27 years, I prayed every day of my life for God to heal my son’s mental illness. It was the number one prayer of my life and it didn’t make sense. What was happening didn’t make sense. We had the best doctors. We had the best medicine. We went to the best therapist. We had the most people praying. We have a family of deep, deep faith. It just didn’t make sense,” Warren said.

The church announced Matthew’s death on April 6. The 27-year-old died a day prior to that announcement.

Warren said he plans to devote his life and his ministry to helping people with mental illness.

Founded in 1980, Saddleback Church serves a large Southern California community with several locations.

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