Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren announced his retirement effective September 16 and appointed Echo Church Pastor Andy Wood as his successor.

Religion News reported that the Saddleback Church pastor publicly announced the next couple who would lead the church in Orange County, California in an email with a video link featuring him and his wife Kay along with Andy and Stacie Wood. The latter couple would have the same roles as their roles in Echo Church: with Andy as the lead pastor and his wife Stacie as the teaching pastor.

Due to Rick's continuing health problems, the congregation started to look for the next pastor last summer. His spinal myoclonus worsened over the years, causing him tremors and clouded vision.

The Echo church pastor was chosen after massive prayers, interviews, and deliberations, according to Rick. Out of 100 potential candidates, he was chosen by Rick and Kay as well as the leaders who unanimously voted for him. Rick said the couple agreed to come and would be attending Saddleback in August.

Transition Process

The 40-year-old pastor was expected to step down from his Echo church role at the end of June. His family will also be moving to Orange County to start the transition. The Warrens and the Woods were set to have a conversation over Father's Day weekend services.

"For decades, we have admired and respected Pastor Rick and Kay Warren, and their work through the Purpose Driven Church model has been critical," Andy said. After months of praying and seeking counsel for others, the Woods answered God's calling to step into serving the Saddleback Church.

"Now it is time for us to pass the torch on to a new generation who will love, lead, and pastor our church family in the decades ahead," Rick wrote.

Also Read: Saddleback Celebrated 40 Years of Ministry: "Daring Faith"

Rick Warren's Works And Accomplishments

Hartford Institute for Religion Research Director Scott Thumma said that oftentimes it would be difficult for the megachurch to change its founding pastor. The predecessor should allow its successor to navigate his course and fully take over. That's why the research director regarded the Saddleback pastor as "a thoughtful leader" for he gradually took himself aback and let others preach during Sunday services.

The Warrens had modeled to pastors how to handle difficult times and shunned issues and scandals. They've been honest about their struggles and kept away from "culture wars and partisan feuds" that might cause the congregation to lose trust in religious leaders.

After Rick graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in December 1979, he became the proponent of "The Purpose Driven Church" without financial resources but with faith in God and His promises. He also became the famous author of "The Purpose Driven Life" and "The Daniel Plan."

Along their journey, Saddleback Church also initiated "Celebrate Recovery," a 12-step Christian program that helped people deal with "hurt, hang-ups, and habits" that thousands of churches also implemented.

He said that people don't have to worry about him leaving his post. He will remain in the church even when things got tough for them. It was his promise to God and the congregation of Saddleback.

Related Article: Rick Warren Stepping Down From Saddleback Church Leadership After 42 Years