[Updated Dec. 7, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.]
Rhonda Hunter, the wife of Summit Church founder Isaac Hunter, was granted a temporary restraining order against her husband Friday after filing a domestic violence petition that cited instances of instability for over a year and a half. The order comes five days after Hunter resigned as lead pastor of the Orlando megachurch of 5,000, admitting that he had an affair with a former church staffer. Hunter has denied all the allegations made in the petition.
The restraining order, granted the same day of the petition, prohibits Isaac from going to the couple's home, his church, his children's schools and his wife's work place.
In her domestic violence petition, Mrs. Hunter, 35, accused Isaac Hunter, 35, of "physical violence," alcohol and drug abuse, and being "incapable" of taking care of the couple's three children. She cited incidents dating back to February 2011.
The most recent incident took place on Nov. 25, according to the court documents. Mrs. Hunter said she found Isaac passed out and their 5-year-old son unattended when she came home from a trip to the beach with their two daughters. The couple argued and then Isaac left their house with two guns and ammunition, she wrote. Mrs. Hunter said her husband called three days later asking to see his children "one last time."
"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," wrote Mrs. Hunter in the Nov. 30 petition.
"I am afraid that his 'one last time' will result in the death of our children – going out in a blaze of glory."
She added that family members recently found bottles of pills, syringes and vials of liquids among Isaac's possessions.
Mrs. Hunter alleged that another incident took place on Feb. 13, 2011, when Isaac pinned her arms down on a bed and yelled obscenities at her. She submitted photos of bruises on her arms from that incident in the petition.
Mrs. Hunter also reported that a suicide note, which contained instructions to church staff in the event of his death, was found on his computer earlier this year.
Isaac Hunter, through his lawyer Lauren McCorvie, has issued a statement to The Christian Post denying all the allegations made by his wife in the petition:
"It is with deep remorse and sadness that the public and my former congregation are forced to hear inaccurate allegations regarding my marriage laid out in my wife's Petition for a Temporary Injunction. I hope that my wife and I are able to privately resolve the pending issues between us for our children. I love my children very much. Never in my life have I threatened to harm my children in any way. Nor have I ever lifted a hand against my wife, harmed her physically, or threatened to do so. I do not wish to battle the allegations in the media but silence seems to me to be a tacit confession of all that has been said in my wife's Petition - to which I adamantly disagree. I do hope all the things I teach and believe - about grace and love and mercy - are as true as they have always have been."
McCorvie, who will be representing Hunter in the petition for injuction, stated, "On behalf of Isaac, we will be contesting each of the allegations in his wife's Petition in court. However, I welcome a dialogue with Rhonda's attorney to discuss how might the parties proceed in the best interests of their minor children and avoid a public attack on their parents."
One day after the alleged Nov. 25 incident, Isaac submitted his immediate resignation as lead pastor of the church he founded in 2001. On Nov. 28, his long-time friend and the church's co-founder, John Parker, informed the church family in a letter that he was the newly appointed lead pastor.
A spokesman for Summit echoed Parker's post in a statement to The Christian Post:
"We are all hurting right now, and we don't have all the answers to fix the hurt. But we know that the vision God has given Summit hasn't changed, and will not change. God has been the head of this place from the beginning, and it's God who builds His church."
He added: "Our prayers are also with the Hunter family, and we're committed to protecting the space around them right now."
On Sunday, Isaac's father, Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed in Orlando and a CP editorial advisor, addressed the resignation in an emotional message.
"This sermon comes on the heels of the worst week of our family's life. At least when my 5-year-old granddaughter Ava died we had the assurance of heaven. When we got the word that our son Isaac had left his family and pastorate for sin, we only had the evidence that hell was involved," said Joel Hunter, his voice breaking.
"God is still God. He is our God," he continued. "Our family loves each other and we will continue to love each other. It is unconditional. It is unbreakable. We love each other and especially we are going to be covering Rhonda and the kids during this time with an extra amount of love. But mostly I wanted to tell you this – all of us are committed that hell will not have the final victory here."
Despite looking visibly distressed by the events surrounding his son, Joel Hunter expressed his commitment to God, Isaac and his family.
"Satan is going to come after my family and think he can pick off one of us and that the rest of us are going to fold? Seriously? He's going to tempt one of my sons to not only walk away from his faith community and his family but to walk away from himself? ... Seriously? He's stupid," he said.
"No matter how much I hurt and no matter how tired or discouraged I get, I will go on. I will go on to see God's kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. "
The hearing for Mrs. Hunter's domestic violence petition has been set for Dec. 13 at 8:30 a.m. During the hearing, Circuit Judge Roger J. McDonald will decide on whether the temporary restraining order will be made permanent. Isaac will also be allowed to respond to the allegations.
In postings on its website, Summit Church has asked its members to pray for the situation.
"Pray for Pastor Isaac and his family. Pray for our church community. Pray that God would help you do the right thing. Pray that God will bring a good thing out of a bad situation."
On its Twitter, Summit staff tweeted that they have found comfort in Psalm 121, which states, "The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."