Tuesday, August 9, 2011

David Green (Hobby Lobby) Donates Ranch to Saddleback Church

Saddleback Church – headed by Pastor Rick Warren – has been given a 170-acre ranch in San Juan Capistrano from an Oklahoma City arts and crafts billionaire to help further Christian values by training pastors.

Hobby Lobby, with more than 485 arts and crafts stores, has been leasing the Rancho Capistrano retreat property – nestled in the hills adjacent to the I-5 Freeway – to Saddleback Church for a nominal payment since last May when the Lake Forest mega-church had struck a deal to lease the ranch-land from the crafts retailer. Hobby Lobby purchased the property a month before that from the then already-faltering Crystal Cathedral Ministries.

Warren is expected to announce the donation from Hobby Lobby to his church membership on Saturday, Saddleback officials said Wednesday.

The ranch retreat is 12 miles southwest of Saddleback’s Lake Forest main campus and on Sundays conducts two services as well offering a location for spiritual growth. The site is also used to train missionaries and pastors. Later this month Warren will host his Radical is Conference at the ranch.

With the addition of the Rancho Capistrano property, Saddleback has expanded from the original Lake Forest campus to nine satellite campuses. Each week about 22,000 people attend the church across all 10 campuses.

In May 2010, Saddleback announced a deal to lease and take full responsibility for the 170-acre Crystal. Saddleback agreed to lease the property from Hobby Lobby for a nominal fee. The arts and crafts retailer bought the land from Crystal Cathedral during the same month.

Prior to that Saddleback had been in lease negotiations with the financially-strapped Crystal Cathedral for 18 months to lease and take responsibility of the property.

Crystal Cathedral administrators in March 2010 shut down all operations at Rancho Capistrano, including a church, preschool, retreat area, soccer fields, camping grounds and a conference and wedding center. The megachurch’s continuing financial woes had led to the sale of several properties, employee layoffs and suspension of its “Glory of Easter” pageant.

Johnnie Crean, whose parents donated 80 acres of the Rancho Capistrano land, told the Register in 2010 that he believed Saddleback Church would fit in well at the property.

[From the OCRegister.com]