A Minnesota courtroom was moved to tears last week as the widow, family, and congregants of a beloved pastor openly forgave the man responsible for his death.

Verlyn Strenge was the pastor of First Baptist Church in Clearbrook, Minn. for 25 years. He was killed last year when David Nelson's pickup truck slammed into Strenge's vehicle. At the time of the crash, Nelson was going almost 70 mph (112 km/h) in a 30 mph (48 km/h) zone and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.267, three times the legal limit. Nelson's Truck rear-ended Strenge's Jeep at an intersection in downtown Bagley, Minn.

The emotional scene of forgiveness played out last week at Nelson's sentencing hearing. "We have been forgiven so much. How could we not forgive you?" congregant Rick Moore says in a video from the hearing.

"We forgive you, Mr Nelson," says Strenge's daughter, Jayme Nelson. "As hard as it was at first, we want you to know that we've been praying for you this past year because we know your life has been impacted by the biggest mistake of your life." 

Strenge's wife was seriously injured in the collision. But even she took the time to let Nelson know he was forgiven. Mrs. Strenge approached Nelson at the end of the hearing, giving him a hug and saying, "I forgive you David, please forgive yourself."

Reporter Matt Henson says the scene was a "true continuance of Pastor Verlyn's last sermon, which was about forgiveness."

Speaking to the judge and the courtroom before being taken away, Nelson says he is grateful for the forgiveness. "I very much appreciate the forgiveness aspect of what they brought up. I decided today that I wasn't going to ask for it."

The judge sentenced Nelson to almost three years in a state prison.