Can people from various backgrounds work together constructively rather than negatively... learning to serve rather than to yell? Dr. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, says that it’s not only possible, it’s necessary. Started by 11 people in 1972 in the “north land” of Orlando, Northland was recently named one of “America’s 50 Most Influential Churches” by Church Growth Today. Since June 1985, Dr. Hunter has served as senior pastor. During his tenure, the church has grown from 200 faithful souls to a congregation of 12,000.
A longtime bridge builder who seeks common ground for the common good, Dr. Hunter approaches today’s issues in a biblical and balanced manner. He has become an internationally known spokesperson for “compassion issues” outlined in Scripture: sanctity of life, creation care, justice, poverty, and marriage and the family, and has been featured in national publications including Newsweek and the New York Times, as well as on programs such as The Early Show, Nightline, and Anderson Cooper 360 (interviews available online).
Cooperation and partnership are hallmarks of Dr. Hunter’s ministry. Together, he believes, we can accomplish more because of our differences than we would on our own --- without giving up our unique identities. “Fear and suspicion of differences limit the church’s spiritual maturity. Both spiritual and intellectual maturity grow from differences,” he states.
A respected leader in the evangelical community, he serves on the board of the World Evangelical Alliance (420 million constituents) and the National Association of Evangelicals (30 million members). Dr. Hunter recently declined an offer to become the president of the Christian Coalition when the group could not embrace his vision to expand their political agenda to include compassion issues.
Dr. Hunter is also partnering with other groups to accomplish common goals. He is working with respected members of the scientific community to call attention to human-caused threats to the environment. Additionally, as a delegate to the US-Islamic World Forum held in Doha, he is seeking to build a dialog between Muslim and Christian communities. Grist magazine named him among the top 15 religious environmental leaders in the world, along with the Pope and the Dali Lama.
Before bringing his family to Northland, Dr. Hunter served as a United Methodist pastor for 15 years in Indiana. He and his wife, Becky, have been partners in the ministry since their marriage in 1972. Becky is the president of the Global Pastors Wives Network and author of BEING GOOD TO YOUR HUSBAND ON PURPOSE. The Hunters are parents to three married sons: Josh, director of operations for Summit Church, one of the largest churches in Orlando; Isaac, senior pastor of Summit Church, who leads this unique congregation of mostly 20-somethings; and Joel, an ophthalmology resident who is in his final years of preparation to be an eye surgeon and is already working toward opening clinics throughout Central Florida.
Dr. Joel C. Hunter