Almost a month after the congregation made a surprising move of ordaining women ministers, Rick Warren announced he is stepping down from his post as senior pastor of Saddleback Church which he founded more than four decades ago.
In his sermon on Sunday, Warren remembered how he began the church and shared God's revelation to start looking for his successor. Nevertheless, he plans to still be a part of the congregation by serving as a founding pastor after relinquishing his role to the new lead pastor, The Orange County Register reported.
"For 42 years, Kay and I have known this day would eventually arrive and we've been waiting for God's perfect timing," the pastor said.
"As we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID pandemic, we felt God was saying now was the time to start the process," he continued.
"This is not the end of my ministry. It's not even the beginning of the end. ... We're going to take one step at a time in the timing of God. ... God has already blessed me more than I could ever possibly imagine. I don't deserve any of it, and so this next transition in my life is something I am anticipating with zero regrets, zero fears, zero worries," the pastor further stated, captured by Christianity Today.
Aside from the church's main campus in Lake Forest, it also has 14 branches in other parts of Southern California, with 30,000 average weekly attendance and 7,000 small groups. Its international locations include Argentina, Germany, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.
He was born Richard Duane Rick in San Jose, California on Jan. 28, 1954 to parents Jimmy and Dot Warren, a Baptist minister and a high school librarian, respectively. He founded "The Fishers of Men Club" while studying at Ukiah High School. He took up arts at California Baptist University. In 1979, he completed his Master of Divinity degree at South-western Baptist Theological Seminary. He also went to Fuller Theological Seminary and received a Doctor of Ministry degree.
He founded Saddleback Church in 1980 during an Easter Sunday service, attended by 200 people. It currently ranks as the eighth largest church in America.
He is also a famous author who wrote eight books, including "The Purpose Driven Life," a 2002 New York Times bestseller which sold 30 million copies, and "The Purpose Driven Church" in 1995.
Warren was named "one of America's Top 25 Leaders" by the U.S. News and World Report in 2005. He was also honored as one of Time Magazine's "15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most in 2004." In 2006, Newsweek recognized him as one of the "15 People Who Make America Great."
He is married to Kay and they have three children together, including Amy, Josh and Matthew. But in 2013, his youngest son committed suicide, believed to have been caused by depression and mental illness.
The pastor reportedly returned 25 years of the salary he received from Saddleback following the immense success of his book sales.