California Pastor Takes In $2.4 Million After Donations Plea

Evangelical pastor Rick Warren's plea for donations to fill a $900,000 deficit at his Southern California megachurch brought in $2.4 million, Warren announced to cheers during a sermon at the church on Saturday.

Warren said the amount raised after the appeal was posted online Wednesday included only money parishioners brought in person to Saddleback Church by New Year's Eve. More was arriving by hand and by mail, he said.

"This is pretty amazing," said Warren, who made the announcement by bringing out 24 volunteers each holding a sign for $100,000. "I don't think any church has gotten a cash offering like that off a letter."

The pastor said he planned to talk about what he called his church's "radical generosity" in the rest of the weekend's sermons. He said the total came from members, and the donations were all under $100.

"We're starting the new decade with a surplus," he said. "It came from thousands of ordinary people. This was not one big fat cat."

The posting on Warren's Web site read: "With 10 percent of our church family out of work due to the recession, our expenses in caring for our community in 2009 rose dramatically while our income stagnated."

Warren said the church had largely managed to stay within its budget during the year, but "the bottom dropped out" when Christmas donations were down.

The letter cited the church's accomplishments in 2009 and detailed how the donations would be used, including the church's food pantry, homeless ministry, counseling and support groups.

Warren made similar pleas after Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Asian tsunami, raising $1.7 million and $1.6 million from Saddleback parishioners.

Warren is the author of numerous books, including the best-selling "The Purpose Driven Life." He was named the top newsmaker of the year for 2009 by the Religion Newswriters Association, gaining attention with his invocation at the inauguration of President Barack Obama and comments in the aftermath of California's Proposition 8, which overturned gay marriage.

He founded Saddleback Church in 1980 in Lake Forest, about 65 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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  • by US citizen for now Location: Washington on Jan 5, 2010 at 06:37 AM
    ok Audra I understand. No one is perfect and many church leaders can or have not made the best decisions with tithe money. We need to mention the church board members. where did they go? you know to approve or disapprove issues. have a happy new year & take care
  • by Audra Location: SoCal on Jan 4, 2010 at 09:27 PM
    Well, I guess Im qualified to post something on the topic by your standards then. I've a key been part of a team building a church up both literally and figuratively, more than once. I've also been in the pulpit, thanks (and yes, Im qualified... diploma and all, woohoo). I've also seen a lot of abuse in many forms. I don't know what he's doing with the money and neither do you, but then I wasn't really concerned either. lol I'm just intrigued with that reverse tithe thingy.
  • by US citizen for now Location: Washington on Jan 4, 2010 at 01:23 PM
    Only people that had experience in starting up a church, and helped manage finances while it grew, would understand this money issue that Rick Warren is going through. Wouldn't it make sense that whomever commented here KNEW all the facts before casting judgment or making false statements. They take care of their church members as well as world missions, feeding the hungry, building expenses etc.. And what do those ones who ridicule and make fun of up here do for mankind? What? Nothing with significance. NADA Just keep looking out for yourself as you've always done. God help these evil twisted ones who distort the truth & attack Christianity. For they know not what they do....but some do.
  • by Audra Location: SoCal on Jan 4, 2010 at 10:52 AM
    Jim: Reverse tithe? LOL That's a new one on me (and a manmade idea because it's not in scripture), but whatever. I guess with that kind of an income though, he can afford to. I was actually wondering if he might pay my light bill. Compared to that rake-in, it would be a drop in the bucket.
  • by US citizen for now Location: Washington on Jan 4, 2010 at 10:42 AM
    Anonymous, Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; and mercy rejoices against judgment. There will be days coming which you will cry out for mercy and you shall not receive it. You reap what you sow. A stealing, lying president is the worse thing I see in our country.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 4, 2010 at 09:17 AM
    nothing worse than a begging preacher
  • by Nikki Location: Kenansville on Jan 4, 2010 at 09:04 AM
    I personally would rather sit in church with a hypocrit than not go at all since God wants us to go. I don't have to worry about what others are doing in church, it's not my place to judge, there are some days I don't want to go and go anyway and find out it was a sermon I really needed to hear! There are people that use every excuse known not to go, blaming others is not good. To those that choose to stay home because of other people going to church for acknowledgement of their neighbors,I am sorry but that is simply a sorry excuse not to go. This means you are letting man come between you and God. NO, you do not HAVE to go to church to get to heaven but God wants you to. Also one more thing, the ones that go for the wrong reasons may actually hear a sermon at some point that may trigger them growing stronger in Christ, so at least they are there and will sooner or later hear something to make them better Christians and neighbors!!!
  • by US citizen for now Location: Washington on Jan 4, 2010 at 08:27 AM
    Whom ever can't handle the truth, don't use my name up here and lie. Lie like the devil is all you're doing. You get a kick out of twisting and distorting the truth. You know nothing about how the Kingdom of God works. How much of your time and money do your devote or give to the needy? NONE I bet. NONE. so keep your smart comments to yourself and the devil you give your allegiance to.
  • by Perfect Quote Location: For this story on Jan 4, 2010 at 08:16 AM
    "They ask you to send your money to the lord, but they give their address." -Wayland Jennings
  • by US citizen for now Location: Washington on Jan 4, 2010 at 07:09 AM
    Matt & Jim know exactly what they're talking about and I commend them. Cactus & Del need help. They're just lost bitter uninformed people who're being used by satan to criticize God & his church. They just don't know. Nonbelievers. The ways of God are foolish to the unsaved. Jesus Christ, The Way, The Truth & The Life!
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