Saddleback Celebrates 25th Anniversary, Plans Global Expansion

A ‘spiritual tsunami’ hit Southern California Sunday, as some 30,000 members of Saddleback Church launched a global initiative to mobilize millions for Christ.

The new initiative, dubbed the "PEACE Plan," was launched during the church's 25th anniversary celebration at the Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

“Twenty five years ago, 60 strangers showed up at Laguna Hills High School, and I shared what I believed was God’s vision for that fledgling church,” said pastor Rick Warren, who founded Saddleback with seven members 25 years ago. “Friends, Saddleback family, that vision has been fulfilled.

“I want to stand with confident assurance, as I did 25 years ago, and say to all of you that God is going to use you to change the world,” Warren told the crowd amid thunderous applause.

“I stand before you to share with you the next vision,” said Warren, one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. “It’s a dream of three things: Global expansion, total mobilization and radical devotion.

"Today I dare you to accept that challenge," Warren said.

Earlier in the day, Warren led the group in what he called one of two things he "always wanted to do" in the Angel Stadium: lead the crowd in forming a wave.

In some seven nonstop rotations across the stadium, Saddleback members stood up, raised their hands and roared in sequence.

Larry A. Ross, communications director for the Rev. Billy Graham, described the wave as "a spiritual tsunami."

"You folks know how to have church," Ross said.

Ross also read a brief comment from Graham, who said health problems and preparations for his upcoming evangelistic crusade in New York kept him from joining the anniversary celebration.

“I’ve rarely met anyone who has greater visions and dreams than my friend Rick Warren," wrote Graham in the statement. "Congratulations on this very special occasion as you celebrate your 25th year. May God bless each of you as you listen rejoice and pray together."

Attendees also heard a message from President George W. Bush, which was read aloud by a local government official.

"I send greetings to the members of Saddleback Church as you celebrate. This milestone is a tribute to your dedication and service," wrote Bush in the statement. "You help change lives one heart, one soul at a time. I applaud your commitment. May God bless you and may God continue to bless America."