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.”  In 2018, Orlando Magazine listed him as the #1 most powerful voice for philanthropy and community engagement. And 2019 was his sixth year to be highlighted as one of Orlando's "50 Most Powerful." 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 is the immediate past Chair of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness.  

He also leads SIMPLE HELP, a growing movement of everyday helpers doing simple things to make the world better. Each week, social issue experts help to set the tone for delivering solutions through A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION  which includes Dr. Hunter's interview program, POWER TALKS, on TV 45 Monday through Friday at 5 PM and Friday at 9 PM; a podcast, THE BRIGHT SIDE, that he co-hosts with his son, Joel D. Hunter MD;   And additionally, Dr. Hunter can be heard daily giving a MINUTE DEVOTIONAL on Z 88.3 FM Radio.

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 those 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.

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  • 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