Following reports that he has been cleared of any allegations, several people have now spoken out against Echo Church Pastor Andy Wood, who has been announced as Rick Warren's successor as Saddleback Church's leader.

Earlier this year, Warren announced that he is going to be succeeded by Wood as the pastor of the popular megachurch globally known for its "Purpose-Driven Life" campaigns.

Passing the Baton

Warren, who authored the world-famous book "The Purpose-Driven Life," announced that he will retire from the position effectively later this year-Sept. 16-and will be replaced by Wood, who has officially stepped down from his leadership position in Echo 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," Warren said.

Wood, who spent months praying and seeking counsel before accepting the role of being Warren's successor, expressed his respect for the retiring pastor and his wife, Kay.

"For decades, we have admired and respected Pastor Rick and Kay Warren, and their work through the Purpose Driven Church model has been critical," Wood said.


Following Warren's announcement, a former Echo Church staff, Lance Hough, accused Wood of requiring members to pledge unwavering loyalty to him.

Hough, who was part of the leadership team of Crossroads Church at Fremont when Echo Church merged with it, claimed the collaboration instead became a takeover.

The former staff said Echo Church eliminated everything that made Crossroads Church special, with Wood siding with Echo Church staff and disregarding criticisms made against them. Hough added that although Wood was a likable character, he dismissed criticisms pointing out how Echo Church did things.

Hough was concerned that Wood could take advantage of Saddleback's and Warren's goodness and might push his own leadership style into the church entrusted to him.

After this, the Vanderbloemen Search Group was asked to investigate the matter. Vanderbloemen cleared Wood of these allegations after interviewing people supposedly involved in these matters.

New Accusations

Now, after Vanderbloemen cleared him of the above accusations, Wood is again facing the heat after several former leaders of Echo Church revealed some interesting details with regards to his leadership practices.

According to The Roys Report (TRR), a couple who served as pastors at Echo Church-Jason and Lori Adams-Brown-said they know of at least 15-20 people who spoke with Vanderbloemen about their concerns regarding Wood, but that their concerns weren't taken seriously.

Lori, who was a former assistant campus pastor at Echo Church in Sunnyvale, said they went with "great personal risk" to tell their story, but they did so because of their concern about Saddleback and wanted to warn the church about "what we believe is a wolf that has a history of devouring sheep behind the curtains."

Silenced By Something That Shouldn't Be In the Church

According to the couple, many of Echo's former employees could not speak about the church's practices because they were made to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). They said the church tried to get them to sign NDAs before they left, but they didn't sign.

Lori, speaking about Echo's use of NDAs, highlighted how the use of such a thing in the church on all former employees should merit further investigation.

"NDAs have no place in the church," she said. "If a pastor claims there have been no allegations of abuse against him, but he has gotten many former staff to sign NDAs (even if he gaslit staff by not calling them NDAs), this is cause for deep investigation into all former employees with care."

Several of Echo's former high-level employees confirmed with TRR that the church Wood led got them to sign NDAs when they left. These employees include Echo Church co-founding pastor Archie Jackson, former Echo Sunnyvale Campus Pastor Darren Allarde, former Communications Pastor J.C. Navarro, former Guest Experience Pastor Nick Copland and former Worship Pastor Shannan Copland, Nick's wife.

Two of these former high-level employees told TRR they couldn't give details about Echo because of the NDAs, and also said they did not participate in the Vanderbloemen investigation. Further, one of them, Copland, told the news outlet that this is the first time someone actually tried to ask about what they experienced in their former church.

"This is the first time anybody's contacted me trying to genuinely learn more," Copland said, adding "When I think back and look back at the last three or five years of Echo Church, I probably should have been the number one person to be contacted (by Vanderbloemen) due to my position at Echo."

"I was one of the campus pastors," the former employee explained. "The only position higher than that is the executive pastor and the lead pastor"

Exhaustive But Not Really?

Saddleback, in a statement to TRR, claimed that Vanderbloemen's preliminary investigation-the one that supposedly cleared Wood of all accusations-was based on an "exhaustive report" conducted by Echo Church.

The said Echo Church report "included video footage, email and text records, and interviews." Vanderbloemen also interviewed more Echo staff.

It's worth noting, however, that at the time of the release of the said preliminary report acquitting Wood, Vanderbloemen hadn't spoken with Lori Adams-Brown yet. The former pastor proved this by showing TRR a text, indicating that Vanderbloemen reached out to her three days after its report was published.