Bereaved pastor:

Members of mega-church Harvest Christian Fellowship were surprised this weekend by the sight of grief-stricken Pastor Greg Laurie, a Newport Beach resident, who took the pulpit despite the very recent death of his son, Christopher Laurie.

“It was not a distant relationship,” Greg Laurie said. “Thankfully I don’t have to sit around worrying he didn’t know I loved him. He knew I loved him.”

Laurie, 33, a graphic artist and Huntington Beach resident who spent the last three years as the church’s art director, died the morning of July 24 in a car accident in Corona, according to authorities.

Calling it the “most devastating day of my life,” a sometimes-tearful Greg Laurie told his congregation that his faith was still strong. At the same time, he said, reminders — like driving past the crash site on the way to church — made him feel the loss deeply.

Christopher Laurie’s brother Jonathan took the stage, saying his brother had a strong commitment to faith.

“He had been growing deeper in his faith this past year, more than ever before,” he said.

According to those who knew and worked with him, Laurie was a talented graphic artist who left numerous reminders of his commitment to his father’s ministry: the bumper stickers he designed for the annual Harvest Crusade; the church website he built; even large parts of “Lost Boy,” a documentary on the life of his father, a Newport Beach resident.

Laurie was eastbound on the 91 Freeway in his 2008 Dodge Magnum when he crashed into the back of a Caltrans street sweeper just west of Serfas Club Drive about 9 a.m. July 24, according to California Highway Patrol reports.

A private memorial service has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday; the public may view it at the church website or listen to it live on KWVE (107.9 FM).

MICHAEL ALEXANDER may be reached at (714) 966-4618 or at

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