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Saddleback Church Clears Rick Warren’s Successor of Allegations of Abusive Leadership Style; Former Echo.Church Staffers Speak Out

“Why would a church have an NDA? That’s for tech companies with proprietary secrets. That’s not for church,” Street told ChurchLeaders, adding that non-disclosure agreements were not entirely uncommon for staffers who resigned or were let go in situations of disagreement. Street, through a lawyer, later submitted a demand letter and received her final pay without signing the non-disclosure agreement.

Street nevertheless expressed appreciation for the church and Wood specifically, even though those memories are mixed with pain, saying, “Andy baptized me. I got serious about my faith at South Bay Church [which later changed its name to Echo.Church], and it’s also the church that made me want to walk away from church.”

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Street further expressed her desire that Wood and the elder board of Saddleback Church would be mindful of the significant influence Wood will command as pastor of one of the nation’s largest churches and put safeguards in place for staff and volunteers.

“I just hope that he can really do a gut check and not take this system with him down south and make more victims out of poor volunteers,” she said, suggesting that structural changes are also needed at Echo.Church. “I want the church to build itself up. I want Andy to be built up.”

Vanderbloemen Search Group, a search firm whom Saddleback had contracted to aid in their succession process and who conducted the initial background check on Wood, performed the follow-up review of evidence. Street spoke with Vanderbloemen on Sunday afternoon, some hours before Saddleback released their statement clearing Wood.

In a statement to RNS, Wood said that he “would be happy for any current or former staff members to share their working experience at Echo with Vanderbloemen as a part of their investigation.”

“We want to do everything we can to help the truth about these allegations come to light,” Wood said.

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Andy and Stacie Wood will step down from leadership at Echo.Church at the end of June in preparation for their new roles at Saddleback Church.