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Joel Carl Hunter (born April 18, 1948 in Shelby, Ohio), is the senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, a congregation of 20,000 that worships at three sites in Central Florida and at more than 1,000 sites worldwide via interactive webcast, iPhone, and Facebook. He is the author of A New Kind of Conservative (Regal 2008), Church Distributed (Distributed Press 2008) and Inner State 80: Your Journey on the High Way (Higher Life 2009). Hunter accepted the presidency of the Christian Coalition in 2006, but resigned before taking the office.
Hunter delivered the closing benediction on the final day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, prayed with Senator Obama on the day of the 2008 presidential election and offered a blessing for President-elect Obama at the Pre-Inaugural Worship Service at St. John's Church on January 22, 2009. On February 5, 2009, he was appointed to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In April 2011, he was named a member of the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations.
Hunter was born April 18, 1948 in Shelby, Ohio. His parents were Wilbur Hunter, a decorated World War II veteran, and Jean Hunter, a homemaker. When his father died in 1952, he spent much of his time with his maternal grandparents, Lena and Carl Bashore. He graduated from Shelby High School in 1966.
He then attended Ohio University. While there, he became involved in the civil rights movement In April 1968, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, he had a crisis of faith and felt called into ministry. He graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science degree in education.
He then attended Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1970, and received his Master of Divinity in 1973. After starting towards his Doctor of Ministry degree, he took his first church appointment as a youth minister at Bradley United Methodist Church in Greenfield, Indiana. There he met his wife, Becky. He stayed at Bradley for one year, and then became a minister at Southport United Methodist and remained there until obtaining his Doctor of Ministry degree in 1974. His thesis, in the field of culture and personality, was about equipping people for ministry. After graduation he became pastor at Mount Auburn United Methodist Church in Greenwood.
Hunter has three sons, Joshua, Joel, and Isaac, and seven grandchildren.
Climate change activism
Hunter was asked in February 2006 to sign the Evangelical Climate Initiative, a document recognizing global warming based on the findings of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Fellow signatories included Rick Warren, the presidents of 39 Christian colleges, and the president of the Salvation Army. In the spring of 2006, he was asked to host a TV advertisement by the group . In the summer of 2006 and 2008, Hunter was invited to symposiums on creation care at Windsor Castle. He has since been named by Grist Magazine as one of the top 15 religious leaders in creation care, along with Pope Benedict XVI and the Dalai Lama.
The Democratic National Convention and President Obama
On January 20, 2009, Hunter offered a blessing over President-Elect Obama during a pre-inauguration service held at St. John's Episcopal Church, located on Lafayette Square across from the White House. The service is a tradition for those about to become President.
President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Hunter served in the inaugural year on the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which advises President Barack Obama on substantive policy issues, including interfaith relations, strengthening the role of fathers in society and reducing the number of abortions. He continues as a spiritual advisor to the President.
- Fitzgerald, Francis (30 June 2008), "The New Evangelicals," The New Yorker
- Van Biema, David (6 November 2008), "Who Is Joel Hunter, and Why Is Obama Praying with Him?," Time
- Branigin, William (20 January 2009), "Obama Sworn in as 44th President of U.S.," The Washington Post
- The White House: Office of the Press Secretary (5 February 2009). "Obama Announces White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships." Press release. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
- Members Named to Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations
- Hunter, Joel (2008), A New Kind of Conservative, Ventura: Regal. p. 17, ISBN 978-0-8307-4533-3
- Hunter, Joel (2007), Church Distributed, Longwood: Distributed Church Publishers, p. 27, ISBN 978-1-60402-615-3
- TV Spot: Evangelicals and Global Warming