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Lake Forest megachurch calls on followers to donate almost $1 million in 48 hours

December 30, 2009 | 10:25 pm
Pastor Rick Warren, the Orange County evangelist who generated controversy for giving the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration, has called on followers to donate nearly $1 million in the next two days to make up for a shortfall in donations.

Late Wednesday night, Warren posted a letter on his Saddleback Church website telling congregants that Christmas offerings were far less than anticipated.

“This is an urgent letter unlike any I've written in 30 years,” Warren wrote. “On the last weekend of 2009, our total offerings were less than half of what we normally receive -- leaving us $900,000 in the red for the year, unless you help make up the difference today and tomorrow.”

A spokesman for the Lake Forest church said Saddleback provides many charity services each year, based on what it anticipates in donations. Because of the struggling economy, Christmas time donations are down, while demand for services like food pantries is up.

“Basically, the church is having to do more with less,” said A. Larry Ross. According to the website, 10% of the "church family" is out of work. 

Ross said it was still unclear what the potential consequences of the shortfall would be.

It was almost a year ago that Warren chose to deliver the invocation at Obama's inauguration. The choice generated protests from civil rights groups that were angered by Warren's support of Proposition 8, the California measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state.

-- Monte Morin