Dr. Joel C. Hunter
Dr. Hunter served as senior pastor of Northland Church in Longwood, Florida for 32 years. In 2017 he transitioned from that role on a mission to “go from my best interpretation of what the Bible says, to my best imitation of how Jesus lived.” Now, Dr. Hunter, a full-time volunteer, serves as the Chairman of the Community Resource Network, a non-profit organization, he founded, that focuses on helping the marginalized - specifically homeless families. Additionally, Dr. Hunter serves as the Chairman of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, a Florida-based nonprofit organization comprised of government officials, corporations, faith communities, and other non-profit organizations working together to end homelessness.
He also leads “A Community Conversation,” a weekly gathering that helps set the framework for understanding social issues that impact all of us and providing connections to opportunities to help. Each week, social issue experts help to set the tone for delivering solutions through practical action steps. Additionally, he gives a daily one MINUTE DEVOTIONAL on Z 88.3 FM Radio; co-hosts a weekly program, THE BRIGHT SIDE, with his son Dr. Joel D. Hunter, on 102.5 WFLA - engaging experts on various issues of the day; and he hosts a weekly program, POWER TALKS, on TV 45.
A longtime bridge-builder who seeks common ground for the common good, Dr. Hunter approaches today’s challenges in a biblical and balanced manner. Cooperation and partnership are hallmarks of his ministry. Together, he believes, we can accomplish more because of our differences than we would on our own—without giving up our unique identities. “People are missing a way to benefit from differences without compromising their beliefs”, Dr. Hunter has said. “Fear and suspicion of differences limit spiritual maturity. Both spiritual and intellectual maturity grow from differences. Contrasts can be used to accomplish kingdom purposes.”
Dr. Hunter was born and raised in Shelby, Ohio, by a mother who “taught me to always love people who were different than I was.” As a result, he became involved as a young adult in the civil rights movement at Ohio University. He came to a crisis of faith after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and remembered the admonishment of his childhood pastor who said, “Nothing will ever come right in the world unless you take care of the sin in your own heart.” It was then, in the middle of the campus at Galbreath Chapel, that he knelt down and gave his life completely to Christ. A short time later he felt called into ministry.
As a pastor, he focused on the church being active outside its walls, in various kinds of compassion efforts, believing “pro-life” issues include not only protection of the vulnerable within the womb but continuing the protection of the vulnerable outside the womb. “As believers involved in compassion efforts, we have our motivation from God via His holy scriptures,” he says.
He is a nationally and internationally known advocate for the poor, for victims of human trafficking, for protecting God’s creation for the sake of victims of pollution-caused climate change, for the inclusion in church and society of families/persons dealing with disabilities, for racial equality and reconciliation, and for peace. He has been featured in a wide variety of national and international media.
Neither partisan or politically oriented, Dr. Hunter, due to his ministry involvement in public policy, often relates to public officials in a pastoral role. He was a spiritual advisor to President Obama, writing devotions for him weekly and praying with him periodically.
Dr. Hunter married Becky, his partner in life and ministry, in 1972. They raised three sons and have seven grandchildren.
White House Appointments:
Appointments and Awards:
- Florida’s Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council (2008–2012)
- White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (2009–2010)
- Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) (2011- )
- Peace and Dialogue Award, Nile Foundation (2013)
- National Honorary Chairman, National Weekend of Prayer to End Slavery and Trafficking (2014)
- Medal of Merit, Ohio University (2015)
- Better Man Award, Better Man Ministries (2015)
- Public Servant Award, Delta Sigma Theta (2016)
- Christian HELP Founder’s Award (2017)
Boards of directors:
- National Association of Evangelicals (2004-17)
- World Evangelical Alliance (North American Council) (2006 - 17)
- First Green Bank (2009 - )
- Central Florida Commission on Homelessness (2008 - ) (Chairman: 2016 - )
- Seminole County Sheriff’s Office (Community Foundation Board Member) (2015 - )
- Community Health Impact Council (CHiC) (2016 - )
- Community Resource Network (CRN) (Founder and Chairman: 2017 - )
- Slingshot (Chairman 2017 - )
- Participant in the Alliance of Civilizations (United Nations)
- Participant in the Global Christian Forum
- Participant in the U.S./Islamic World Forum
- Participant in the Parliament of the World’s Religions
- Belhaven College
- The Biologos Foundation
- Children’s Environmental Health Network
- Christian HELP
- The John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics (2015 - 2017)
- Florida’s Faith-based and Community-based Advisory Council (2008-2012)
- The Geneva School
- Interfaith Council of Central Florida
- Man in the Mirror Ministries
- National Latino Evangelical Coalition
- The Telos Group
- U.S. Center for Citizens Diplomacy
- Vernon C Grounds Institute of Public Ethics (Denver Seminary)
- Vision Orlando
- Bachelor of Science in History and Government, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, 1970
- Master of Divinity, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1973
- Doctor of Ministry, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1974
- Doctor of Humanities, Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi, 2006
- Doctor of Divinity, Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary, Nyack, New York, 2011
- Doctor of Divinity, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana, 2016