Northland Church senior leader and Obama spiritual advisor has ‘completed his pastoral call.’
Joel Hunter, the tech-savvy megachurch pastor who spoke out on the national stage as an evangelical advisor to President Barack Obama, is leaving Northland Church with a big spot to fill.
“There is no one like Pastor Joel,” the Orlando church wrote in a statement announcing Hunter’s plans to step down after 32 years as its senior pastor. He broke the news to staff on Wednesday, after returning from an annual sabbatical.
Under his leadership, Northland grew from a couple hundred to 20,000 weekly attendees at three locations, and Hunter became an innovative leader among the early wave of pastors building multisite congregations with streaming services.
Elders at his nondenominational congregation have not yet identified a specific time or plan for his transition following the news. The announcement indicated that Hunter will not fully retire from ministry.
“Pastor Joel made it clear to us that he is not finished serving God and this community,” said Northland’s lead pastor, Vernon Rainwater. “However, he has completed his pastoral call.”
Hunter famously served as a moderate evangelical on Obama’s spiritual cabinet, having resigned from the Christian Coalition a couple years earlier. “Politics is one venue in which the Lord can work, but his plan A has always been the local congregation,” Hunter said in a 2009 profile in CT. “My calling is to be part of that frontline ministry.”
He prayed at the Democratic National Convention and on Obama’s inauguration day, hopeful about evangelicals’ place in America’s political future.
“There is great potential for the church to be part of the solution to the problems in our culture and the problems …