Rick Warren Steps Down, Progress in Religious Freedom, & Tulsa Church Pays Debt
After more than four decades, the pastor of one of the nation’s largest and most influential churches is ready to step down. And he has named a young couple to take his place. Governments and societies throughout the world continue to violate religious freedom, but progress was made in some countries during the last year, U.S. State Department officials said Thursday (June 2) upon the release of an annual report. And South Tulsa Baptist Church paid off its $2.2 million dollar debt in 18 months so it could focus on missions.
After more than four decades, the pastor of one of the nation’s largest and most influential churches is ready to step down.
And he has named a young couple to take his place.
“This afternoon, at our all-staff meeting held at the Lake Forest campus, I was finally able to publicly announce that we have found God’s couple to lead our congregation, and that they have agreed to come!” Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren told his Orange County, California, congregation in an email on Thursday (June 2).
The email included a link to a video featuring Warren and his wife, Kay, along with Andy and Stacie Wood of Echo Church in San Jose, Calif. Andy Wood, 40, is currently Echo’s lead pastor, while Stacie Wood is a teaching pastor. They will have the same roles at Saddleback.
Founded in 2008 as South Bay Church, Echo now has four campuses and draws about 3,000 people to weekly services. Echo began as a Southern Baptist church but no longer cooperates with the convention. Wood graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Governments and societies throughout the world continue to violate religious freedom, but progress was made in some countries during the last year, U.S. State Department officials said Thursday (June 2) upon the release of an annual report.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and ambassador-at-large Rashad Hussain offered their assessments of the global state of the right to believe and practice faith in presenting the State Department’s 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom. The report, which is required each year by a 1998 law, evaluated the condition of religious liberty in nearly 200 countries and territories.
“In many parts of the world, governments are failing to respect their citizens’ basic rights,” Blinken said, adding all societies “must do more to combat rising forms of hate, including anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment.”
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South Tulsa Baptist Church paid off its $2.2 million dollar debt in 18 months so it could focus on missions.
“The debt service was costing us a lot,” Pastor Eric Costanzo said. “So much ministry funding has come from paying off the debt and not having to pay the bank every month.”
The church’s outreach includes at least a dozen local ministries and just as many international ones. The church invests about 36 percent of its budget into missions.
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