“We forgive you:” Widow and children tell drunk driver who killed pastor

Wednesday, December 1, 2021 | Tag Cloud Tags: , ,

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – The widow and children of Minnesota church leader Verlyn Strenge used a November 24 court hearing at Clearwater County Courthouse to publicly extend forgiveness to David Nelson, the man who killed the pastor in a drunk-driving incident in Bagel, Minnesota last year, Inforum reports. Judge Eric Schieferdecker said he had never seen anything like it in his courtroom; prosecutor County Attorney Katy Lorsbach was brought to tears.

Nelson, 58, was three times over the legal blood-alcohol limit, and driving out of control at 70mph in a 30mph zone, when he crashed his pickup truck into Pastor Strenge’s jeep, killing him on December 6, 2020, Inforum reports. Pastor Strenge, 69, had led the First Baptist Church in Clearbrook for 25 years, and was a beloved member of the community.

At the final hearing in the case, when it was known Nelson would be going to prison, members of Pastor Strenge’s family and congregation first read out statements of forgiveness. “We forgive you,” Jayme Nelson, Pastor Strenge’s daughter, said. “As hard as it was at first, we want you to know that we have been praying for you for the past year because we know your life has been impacted by the biggest mistake of your life.”

Then, just prior to Nelson’s being taken away to begin his prison term, the family spent a few minutes with him in the courtroom, hugging him and again giving their forgiveness.

“I forgive you, David,” Pastor Strenge’s widow, Merry Gale, said as she hugged Nelson. “Please forgive yourself.” Also hugging Nelson, Jayme assured him: “I’ll be praying for you and your family.”

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