By Michael Ireland, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
SAN DIEGO, CA (ANS, Oct. 23, 2016) — Pastor Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church, launched a new campus of his megachurch in San Diego Sunday (Oct. 23).
According to Anugrah Kumar, writing for www.Christianpost.com, the church’s 17th campus will be led by Pastor Jeff Gonzalez, a former Marine who previously served as a volunteer at Saddleback San Clemente.
“Saddleback San Diego is one we’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” Pastor Warren said in a statement, announcing the opening of the first campus in San Diego, at Canyon Crest Academy.
The new campus will hold services at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m., and Pastor Warren “will be at both services to help celebrate our newest location,” according to information from the church announcing the start-up.
“We have members who drive every week from San Diego to our other campuses, but there’s no reason for that in the future, because we’re starting Saddleback San Diego! We’ve been waiting for the right pastor, and I’m happy to say that Jeff Gonzalez is coming back on our staff to become the new campus pastor at Saddleback San Diego,” added Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life.
The weekly services will feature live Saddleback Worship, an inspiring message of hope and programs for all ages, adding that the campus will move toward providing a full range of services for the local community as it grows.
Church staff and volunteers have undergone weeks of training to prepare for the launch. “They will host services that value people and give them purpose, meeting real needs and pointing people to positive change. Everyone — no matter what their background, faith journey, or need — is welcome.”
As a former marine, Gonzalez previously served as a volunteer at Saddleback San Clemente and even started leading services in Afghanistan while deployed.
Gonzalez was called to full-time ministry at Southwest Church, and is now back at Saddleback to serve in a greater capacity in San Diego. Between the Camp Pendleton Marine Base in Oceanside, and the Naval Base at Point Loma, his experience will resonate with the spiritual needs of retired military and those in active service.
To celebrate this new season of growth, Warren extended a personal invitation to the entire church family, and San Diego residents, to connect with Jeff and his wife Christine during a “Meet the Pastor” event on Sunday, August 14.
More than 200 people showed up for a time of worship, fellowship, food, and friendship at Encinitas Community Center. The evening started with a free dinner at 5:30 PM, followed by Gonzalez sharing his heart and vision for Saddleback San Diego.
As he explained, “It was an amazing night filled with great food, great company, exciting news, and most importantly, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.”
In addition to meeting Jeff, Christine, and their four children, attendees also learned about the new location and launch date slated for October 23.
“People were so excited to sign up for serving opportunities,” said Kyung Lee, Pastor of New Campus Launches. “Nearly everyone filled out serving response cards!”
Saddleback San Diego also hosted their first beach baptism and BBQ on Sunday, August 28 at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.
Warren said: “We are well on our way to meeting this goal as San Diego residents boldly commit to join the new campus. From attending pre-launch gatherings to helping build community, locals are coming out to show their support for the new Saddleback campus. Come be part of the mission to fill God’s house in the San Diego community by making a deeper commitment to reach one more for Christ.”
“We can look back and see that we were part of something that God had in hand in,” said Ron Keck, Pastor of International and Regional Campuses. “I want a new generation to be challenged by history and legacy. This is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor and leave our mark. We only get one shot to say ‘I was there at the beginning.’”
Photo captions: 1) Jeff and Christine Gonzalez. 2) More than 200 people came to hear about the new campus. 3) Michael Ireland.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ASSIST News Service since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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