XXXchurch founder Craig Gross moving on after 17 years at the helm

Brittni De La Mora(Photo: Brittni De La Mora)

Pastor Craig Gross, founder of XXXchurch in Pasadena, California, a ministry that empowers individuals to break free from their adult content addictions, announced that he is leaving the ministry after 17 years and is handing it over to former adult star Brittni and Rich De La Mora.

"Through prayer earlier this year, I heard the Lord say, 'Give XXXchurch to Brittni and Rich De La Mora to lead.' Brittni is a former adult movie star we met while she was still in the industry, and we fostered a relationship with her as she began hers with Christ. What God has done in her life in the last seven years is nothing short of a beautiful miracle," Gross said in a statement Friday on how he decided on the ministry's next leaders.

"She knows the Bible inside and out and is an incredible depiction of redemption. It doesn't surprise me in the least that God is calling her here. Three years ago Brittni married Rich, a pastor she became friends with after she left the industry. Rich comes from a family of ministers; he has a compassionate heart and loves XXXchurch."

Gross, who recently embarked on a new controversial mission to sell and promote marijuana for Christians through Christian Cannabis, said he had been thinking about moving on from the ministry since 2013, around the same time he got his medical marijuana card. He noted, however, that "for the last six years of my life, I have tried to figure out what I am running towards."

On April 20, Gross launched Christian Cannabis at the Coachella music festival for its cultural significance as Christians around the world observed Easter.

"Today feels like 2002, like XXXchurch did. Putting three Xs in front of the word church is similar to putting the word Christian in front of cannabis. It's the dumbest thing. I've thought about this for so long, everyone hates the name ... but I needed it to be so clear and so direct. ... It means Christians talking about cannabis. It doesn't mean we have better holy spiritual weed than you do. There's not such a thing. So I thought, let's just have fun with it and call it what it is because this will hone in on the conversation for our market. Our market is Christians that love the Lord," he told The Christian Post earlier this year.

And as he moves toward his cannabis business, he believes Brittni and her husband will take XXXchurch further than he can today.

"Brittni and Rich, with some help, can take this ministry further than I can now. I have worked closely with them over the years, so I know their capabilities. I am committed to working with them for the next twelve months during this transition, behind the scenes. Think of them as the new quarterbacks and me as their coach. Together they will champion this ministry," he said in his statement. "I have never been more excited about leaving something because I do believe the future is bright with these two. To me, it is the perfect way to exit after all the craziness and backlash we heard about going to an [adult] show in 2002."

Brittni explained in a statement on Facebook that she was blessed by the ministry while she was in the adult industry and Gross and his wife, Jeanette, were very supportive in her spiritual development.

"This IS CRAZY! When I was in the adult film industry XXXchurch used to tell me the Jesus loves me. They gave me a Bible and all kinds of sweet gifts. When I left the adult industry 7 years ago XXXchurch was there for me during my transition. I've always been grateful for the ministry and for those who selflessly gave to me, expecting nothing in return," she said.

"Craig and Jeanette Gross have blessed my life in more ways than most people know because they've never boasted about what they've done for me. Craig and Jeanette are onto new things and the Lord told Craig to give my husband and I the ministry they founded 20 YEARS ago. We are so honored and so grateful that you two have entrusted us with much of your life's work. Thank you for passing the torch (or football as you call it - no fumbles happening over here)."