Pastor Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church, will launch a new campus of his megachurch in San Diego Sunday. 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 have its first services at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. Sunday, and Pastor Warren "will be at both services to help celebrate our newest location," the church said.
"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, the California-based church said, adding that the campus will move toward providing a full range of services for the local community as it grows.
The church staff and volunteers have undergone weeks of training to prepare for the launch, Saddleback added. "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."
Pastor Gonzalez has earlier led services in Afghanistan while he was deployed there.
Gonzalez was called to full-time ministry at Southwest Church, and is now back to Saddleback to serve in a greater capacity in San Diego, the church said. "Between Camp Pendleton Marine Base in Oceanside, and the Naval Base at Point Loma, Jeff's experience will resonate with the spiritual needs of retired military and those in active service. He served over 20 years in the Marine Corps and then retired with four combat tours two in Iraq and two in Afghanistan."
Saddleback, which was founded by Pastor Rick and his wife, Kay, says on its website that it welcomes everyone to join its family.
"We are one family in many locations that is passionate about family, friendships, and finding our calling. This is a family, and a place to call home. It's a place to get help, healing, and hope. Whether you're in Orange County or Buenos Aires, an atheist or lifetime follower of Christ, you are welcome here."