3/28/19 ASHLAND, Ohio – Dr. Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., often called “America's most influential spiritual leader,” has been named the featured speaker for Ashland University’s Spring Commencement set for May 4 at 10 a.m.
The event will be held at the Dwight Schar Athletic Complex’s Miller Stadium, which is located off Broad Street on the northwest side of the AU campus. In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in Kates Gymnasium inside the Physical Education Center and live streamed at various other locations on campus.
Warren is a pastor, global strategist, theologian and philanthropist. In 1980, Warren and his wife Kay were just 26 years old when they founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., with their infant daughter Amy and one other family. Born in San Jose, Calif., Pastor Warren earned a Bachelor of Arts from California Baptist University, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Over 40,000 people have become members at Saddleback Church across 19 locations, including four international campuses, and an online campus with listeners from around the world. Saddleback also has more than 300 ministries, including the nationally recognized Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered recovery program now implemented in churches, jails and prisons. The church recently celebrated their 50,000th baptism.
TIME magazine named Warren one of “15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most” and one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” Also, U.S. News & World Report named him one of “America’s 25 Best Leaders.” Pastor Warren’s radio and broadcast ministry, Daily Hope, seeks to bring the Gospel to the 2,900 remaining unengaged unreached people groups around the world. More than 14 million listeners and 700,000 Daily Hope Devotional subscribers receive practical wisdom from God’s Word.
Since founding Saddleback Church, Warren has become one of the world’s leading pastors. He continues to mentor young leaders, and many of today’s leading pastors’ credit him and his book, The Purpose Driven Church, for inspiring them to pursue their own callings to ministry. The Purpose Driven Church is listed in “100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century.” Forbes magazine called it "the best book on entrepreneurship, management and leadership in print.”
Warren founded www.pastors.com —an online interactive community that provides sermons, forums and other practice resources for pastors. He leads the Purpose Driven network of churches, having trained more than 400,000 pastors in more than 160 countries offering www.pd.church training, teaching and empowering pastors to build Purpose Driven churches around the five purposes of the church. In addition, his New York Times best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into more than 100 languages.
As a global strategist, Warren advises leaders in the public, private and faith sectors on leadership development, poverty, health, education and faith in culture. He has been invited to give the Inaugural Prayer for President Obama, speak at the United Nations, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the African Union, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, TIME’s Global Health Summit, TED talks, and numerous congresses around the world.
As a theologian, Warren has lectured at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, the Evangelical Theological Society, the Vatican, and numerous seminaries and universities. His six books are known for explaining theology in understandable ways.
As philanthropists, Rick and Kay Warren give away 90 percent of their income through three foundations: Acts of Mercy, which serves those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and those struggling with mental health; Equipping the Church, which trains church leaders in developing countries; and The Global PEACE Plan, which fights poverty, disease and illiteracy.
Over 15 years ago, a trip to South Africa literally changed the trajectory of Pastor Warren’s life and mission. God gave him a vision for The PEACE Plan, a mission to fight the five giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, pandemic disease, and illiteracy that devastate the lives of men, women and children around the world. Saddleback Church has been instrumental in helping Rwanda recover after the genocide. Rwanda has become a Purpose Driven country. Once devastated by civil unrest, Rwanda has recently reduced the level of poverty and number of orphans while boosting health care and revitalizing the church – a model now moving to South America.
Rick and Kay Warren consider it their life’s work to empower churches and leaders to create sustainable change that gives a voice to the voiceless and help to the helpless. In 2020, they will celebrate 40 years of leading Saddleback Church.
Ashland University, which has been ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category, is a mid-sized, comprehensive private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Religiously affiliated with the Brethren Church, Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###