Hard news and times for Orlando megachurch and pastor's family

I hate hearing stories like this.  Please pray for the Hunter Family, both Isaac and Rhonda, their children, and the Summit Church.  Here is part of the story from the Orlando Sentinel:

Before his resignation last week as pastor of Summit Church, Isaac Hunter was in a downward spiral of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicidal thoughts, according to a domestic violence petition filed by his wife Rhonda Hunter last Friday.

“I currently fear for my life and the lives of our three children. Isaac is unstable and has demonstrated erratic behavior, alcohol abuse, and fits of rage,” Rhonda Hunter wrote in a petition for a temporary restraining order against her husband.

The same day it was submitted, her petition was granted by Circuit Judge Roger J. McDonald in an order that bars Isaac Hunter from the couple’s Winter Park home, his church, his children’s schools and his wife’s work place.

Isaac Hunter, 35, is the middle child of prominent evangelist Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed in Longwood. Isaac Hunter’s resignation, after admitting an affair with a church staff member, came on Nov. 28, one day after his 13th wedding anniversary.

Rhonda Hunter, 35, spelled out acts of violence and abuse that began in Feburary 2011 and culminated on Nov. 25 when Isaac left their house with two guns and called three days later requesting to see his three children “one last time.”

“I am afraid that his ‘one last time’ will result in the death of our children — going out in a blaze of glory,” Rhonda Hunter wrote in her petition.

The couple has two daughters and a son, ages 11, 9 and 5.

Hunter’s family later found an undated suicide note on his computer and instructions to Summit Church on what should be done “If I die” written sometime before his 35th birthday on April 26, according to court documents.

“I would very much like to be remembered as a person who loved his children, his parents, his brothers, and his best friends — well, while I could,” the suicide note said. “I fear I will love them better in my absence. As I have become what I never wished to be, a burden on those I love the most.”

Calls to Rhonda Hunter were not returned. Isaac Hunter could not be reached. Joel Hunter was unavailable for comment, a spokesman for the church said.

// Read more at Isaac Hunter domestic violence: Isaac Hunter’s wife files domestic violence petition

Few understand the pressure and spiritual attack that many in ministry face.  That appears to be the case in Orlando.  Satan has won a victory here.  How he did it, I don’t know… but I’m sure it’s wrecking this family and this church.

Please take a few moments now to pray for Summit and for the Hunter family.

And please, search your heart… if you’re anywhere close to being open to this kind of thing as a pastor, get some help today.  Right this minute.

The cause of Christ is too important to have this kind of thing happen to you, your family, and the church.

If you’re weak, depressed, under attack, susceptible to sin, caught in sin… PLEASE reach out to someone.  I’m here for some confidential venting as well… and maybe I can help hook you up with someone who can discreetly help you in your situation before it’s too late.  My email is toddrhoades at gmail.com.



  • Vincent Charron December 4, 2012 Reply

    Awesome Todd. Thanks for your gentleness. I think it is to the utmost extreme that we as leaders look after those around us but also make sure that we are also look after. Satan wants a foothold in our lives! Blessings to you as you advance the Kingdom.

  • Scott Couchenour December 4, 2012 Reply

    Todd, it’s not glamorous, but working with God and building a life plan and consistently working that plan is the only way we’ll see less of these stories.

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  • Lori December 5, 2012 Reply

    I wept as I read this story and then prayed. My heart breaks for this family and church. Todd, continue to reach out and thanks for being available to those who made need to “vent” or cry for help. God bless you.

  • Lou Zinnanti December 5, 2012 Reply


    My heart breaks for this family and for this church. I especially feel for the staff of the church who have given their lives to serve alongside him.

    I know first hand the pain and disillusionment that takes place in the life of a staff pastor whose senior pastor has experienced a moral failure. My wife and I didn’t know where to go or what to do. Do you leave the church so you can heal? Do you stay to try to help others cope with this tragedy?

    Praise God that we had a very loving pastor come alongside us and nurse us back to health. God arranged some defining moments of healing along the way. About 6 months after our pastor fell, my wife and I received a call from Glen Berteau (He had been Jimmy Swaggart’s youth pastor during his crisis). Glen had heard about us from a friend of a friend and decided to call. He understood exactly what we were going through when most others couldn’t fathom our pain. Talking to him helped us realize that there can be life and ministry after experiencing something like this.

    Today, we pastor a very healthy church in Boston, MA and have used those painful lessons to build safeguards in our lives and in our ministry.

    If I can be of any assistance to a ministry couple going through a moral failure of a senior leader, I am available.

    Thanks Todd!

  • Joe December 5, 2012 Reply

    Everyone in Orlando needs to seek God and find out to hedge it’s leaders. Tat city has seen more than its share of ministries large and small experience moral and spiritual melt downs.

  • Joyce December 10, 2012 Reply

    In 30 years of ministry I witnessed many leaders who lived with their passion of reaching out conflicted with what was really going on within. The fear of being less than perfect can keep leaders entrapped within their own struggles. My heart breaks for them and their families and pray we build a network that brings real faith and help to leaders and their families.

  • turby December 10, 2012 Reply

    The struggle is Spiritual. We do not struggle against Flesh and Blood, but against Principalities and Powers. We walk by faith, not by our wits. Luther was adamant that a Christian daily repent-daily. We need to be on our knees daily. Pastors SIN!!!!! They need, like Paul in II Cor., return to humility. Mega or Mini Church, serving the Living Lord requires an understanding of our sinful nature – a pastor mentor helps.

  • A book that I think every pastor shoud read is ‘Dangerous Calling – The unique challenges of pastoral ministry’ by Paul David Tripp. I have just finished reading it and underlined something helpful on nearly every page. This really ties in with Turby’s comments above – what he says could be a summary of the book.

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  • Joshua January 28, 2013 Reply

    Thanks Todd, I appreciate your heart and words for the body of Christ and Pastors. Awesome!

  • davida barnes February 24, 2013 Reply

    I personally know Issac Hunter….I have been a member of Summit since it started. Issac was my rock. He helped my relationships, dedicated my little girl and helped me to restore my faith in the Lord. He made me laugh and I always left church wanting more.

    When I found out about his disturbing events…. I cried…real tears. I couldn’t believe he did this to ” me”….he was my confidant that I trusted. Then I had to think about the thousands that he has affected, his family, his 3 beautiful innocent children, and his wife. WOW!!!!! The devil used Issac to show just how evil he can be and just what power he has!!!!! It still affects me every time I go to Summit…. It’s not the same and NEVER will be. I have to continue in my faith at Summit no matter what. I think of him and pray. I just wish he knew how much he changed my life and how much I love and miss him!

    This is an amazing article…. I personally beg anyone in this situation or heading in a unfaithful direction…please get help. People depend on you…. People love you…. You make a difference in people’s lives!

  • Nancy March 19, 2013 Reply

    There goes I, but for the grace of GOD. We all are capable of falling. The bible says in Psalm 37:24 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down. I don’t know him, but we must all lift him up in prayer, and I know that the Lord will raise him up again.

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