Magazine article The Christian Century

Megachurch Pastor Joel Hunter, Who Tried to Lead Evangelicals toward More Moderate Positions on Issues Such as Climate Change and Immigration

Magazine article The Christian Century

Megachurch Pastor Joel Hunter, Who Tried to Lead Evangelicals toward More Moderate Positions on Issues Such as Climate Change and Immigration

Article excerpt

Megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, who tried to lead evangelicals toward more moderate positions on issues such as climate change and immigration, is stepping down as leader of Northland, in Florida.

In a public letter he said that God was calling him to "a new season of ministry outside the four walls of the church."

He led Northland for more than 30 years, during which time it grew from 200 to 15,000 members.

"He is true to evangelical core values and at the same time rethinks responses based upon a changing world," said Steven Engel, rabbi of the Congregation of Reform Judaism in Orlando.

Muhammad Musri, imam and president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, agreed.

"I found Pastor Hunter to be a wonderful and a faithful ambassador for Christ," Musri said. "I especially treasure working with him and traveling nationally and internationally to bring mutual understanding, respect, and love between Christians and Muslims."

In 2012, Hunter helped organize a faith response to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in nearby Sanford, Florida, and attended the trial of the man accused of killing him. …

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