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Saddleback Church

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Saddleback Church
Saddleback Valley Community Church
Saddleback church Lake Forest, worship center
LocationLake Forest, California, across Los Angeles metro. area, other locations across the world
CountryUnited States
Associationsformerly Southern Baptist Convention
Weekly attendance30,000
Founder(s)Rick Warren, Kay Warren
Years built1985
Senior pastor(s)Andy Wood

Saddleback Church is an Evangelical, non-denominational[1] multi-site megachurch based in Lake Forest, California. It is the largest church in California, and one of the largest in the United States of America. The church has several campuses[2] in California and around the world as well as a number of extensions[3]. Weekly church attendance was 30,000 people in 2023. Its senior pastor is Andy Wood and his wife, Stacie Wood, is a teaching pastor.


Saddleback Church Children's Building in Lake Forest, California.

In 1979, Rick Warren, recently graduated in theology, settled with his wife Kay in the Saddleback Valley area of Orange County, California.[4] He began to probe the people in his neighborhood to find out what prevented them from coming to church.[5] The answers that emerged were boredom, distance from everyday life, lack of welcome for visitors, insistence on money and inadequate programs for children. It is with these concerns that the church began in 1980, with a Bible study group, with six people, the pastor Rick Warren and his wife, in their condo.[6] The first worship service took place in the "Little Theatre" of Laguna Hills High School on Palm Sunday,in 1980.[7] In 1995, it dedicated a new building in Lake Forest including a 3,500-seat auditorium. [8]

In 2003, Saddleback Church, Kay and Rick Warren founded the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, a humanitarian development program for churches.[9][10]

In November and December 2006, Saddleback Church played host to the second annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church. The summit featured 60 speakers, including Senators Barack Obama and Sam Brownback.[11]

In 2018, the church said it had baptized 50,000 people since its founding.[12]

The driveway to Saddleback Church of Rancho Capistrano campus in San Juan Capistrano.

On August 16, 2008, Rick Warren arranged a meeting between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama at Saddleback called the Civil Forum on the Presidency.[13] The format of the forum was structured such that Warren first asked Obama a series of questions; he then asked McCain very similar ones subsequently. It was broadcast live on national news networks and streamed online. Tickets were distributed to the public through a raffle with seats listing as high as $1,000 and the event was sold out.[14]

In 2022, Andy Wood became lead pastor.[15]

In 2021, the church was audited for compliance by the Southern Baptist Convention, after ordaining three women pastors that year and thus acting contrary to the Convention's confession of faith (Baptist Faith and Message) which believes that the pastoral ministry is reserved for men.[16] As of February 21, 2023, the church was removed from the SBC membership list due to the hiring of a female pastor in 2022, Stacie Wood, the wife of new senior pastor Andy Wood.[17] [18][19] On May 16, the Southern Baptist Convention announced that Saddleback was seeking an appeal to be reinstated in fellowship. In June 2023, when it requested a review of the decision, church representatives present at the annual convention voted 88% to uphold this decision. [20] The church wanted to maintain its affiliation with the California Southern Baptist Convention, [21] but in October 2023, it decided to leave the state convention as well, in a desire to avoid divisions.[22]

According to a church census released in 2023, it claimed a weekly attendance of 30,000 people and 15 campuses in different cities. [23]


The church has a Baptist confession of faith.[24]


The church offers various programs, such as The Purpose Driven Church (PDC) curriculum[25] and Celebrate Recovery, an addiction recovery support group program.[26]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Saddleback Church". welcome.saddleback.com. Retrieved 2024-07-05.
  2. ^ "Saddleback Church". welcome.saddleback.com. Retrieved 2024-07-05.
  3. ^ "Saddleback Online Extensions Finder". saddleback.com. Retrieved 2024-07-05.
  4. ^ Malcolm Gladwell, The Cellular Church, newyorker.com, US, September 12, 2005
  5. ^ Malcolm Gladwell, The Cellular Church, newyorker.com, US, September 12, 2005
  6. ^ Richard D. Hunt: [1], klove.com, June 3,2022
  7. ^ Justin G. Wilford, Sacred Subdivisions: The Postsuburban Transformation of American Evangelicalism, NYU Press, US, 2012, p. 9 [ISBN missing]
  8. ^ Bob Allen, Saddleback Church pledges $71 million over three years, baptiststandard.com, US, June 12, 2015
  9. ^ Nicola Menzie, Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren Visits Rwanda to Advance PEACE Plan, christianpost.com, US, August 29, 2013
  10. ^ Justin G. Wilford, Sacred Subdivisions: The Postsuburban Transformation of American Evangelicalism, NYU Press, US, 2012, p. 115
  11. ^ Jill Serjeant, U.S. evangelicals strive to change attitudes on AIDS, reuters.com, UK, November 28, 2007
  12. ^ Stoyan Zaimov, Rick Warren's Saddleback Church Becomes First in US to Baptize 50,000 People; Pastor Hails 'Miracle', christianpost.com, US, August 13, 2018
  13. ^ Barboza, Tony (July 21, 2008). "John McCain, Barack Obama will appear together at Orange County church". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2008-07-23.
  14. ^ "Saddleback Civil Forum". Retrieved 2010-09-29.
  15. ^ Leonardo Blair, In final sermon at Saddleback Church, Rick Warren drives home the purpose driven life, christianpost.com, US, August 30, 2022
  16. ^ Adelle M. Banks, Saddleback Church’s ordination of women pastors to be considered by SBC committee, christianpost.com, US, June 16, 2021
  17. ^ "Southern Baptist Convention disfellowships Saddleback Church over role of women as pastors". The Tennessean.
  18. ^ Howe, Jonathan; Porter, Brandon (February 21, 2023). "Saddleback Church deemed 'not in friendly cooperation' with SBC". Retrieved 2023-02-26.
  19. ^ Smietana, Bob (2023-02-24). "How did Saddleback get kicked out of the SBC? It's complicated". Religion News Service. Retrieved 2023-02-26.
  20. ^ Michael Gryboski, SBC upholds ousting of Saddleback Church over woman teaching pastor, christianpost.com, USA, June 14, 2023
  21. ^ Adelle M. Banks, Bob Smietana, Ouster of Saddleback and Fern Creek from SBC over women pastors is affirmed, religionnews.com, USA, June 14, 2023
  22. ^ Mark Wingfield, Saddleback and Fern Creek churches have left their state conventions, baptistnews.com, USA, November 14, 2023
  23. ^ Outreach Magazine, Saddleback Church, outreach100.com, USA, retrieved November 2, 2023
  24. ^ "Beliefs". Saddleback Church. Retrieved 2023-05-14.
  25. ^ "What is Purpose Driven?". Purpose Driven. Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
  26. ^ Kate Shellnutt, How Celebrate Recovery Helped Evangelicals Open Up About Addiction, christianitytoday.com, US, August 12, 2016

External links[edit]