Florida Pastor Joel C. Hunter of Northland Church was named one of the “50 Most Powerful People in Orlando” on Orlando Magazine’s eighth annual list, released in the July issue.
Hunter, who has made the list two other times, is 43rd on the list of Orlando residents, who are selected for their success in the areas of politics, philanthropy, business, and community involvement, said the magazine’s Editor In Chief Mike Boslet.
Serving as one of President Barack Obama’s spiritual advisers certainly helped Hunter, 63, solidify his place on the list, Boslet told The Christian Post.
“[Hunter] has a lot of influence on his church, which is the one of the largest in the area, and the church reaches in influence beyond the confines of the church property,” Boslet said. “Of course, there’s the White House connection he has, too.”
Orlando Magazine's editor also said the church, which has three locations in Central Florida and 15,000 members, is noted for helping in times of disaster outside the community. Northland (also called Northland, a Church Distributed) recently sent a disaster relief team to Pleasant Grove, Ala., to help those ravaged by a tornado.
Hunter told The Christian Post that being selected for the list was a reflection of his church and not an accolade that should be considered as giving him sole credit.
“Anytime that a religious leader can be among those that have an impact on a community it basically says that the pastor’s church is playing a role that is being evaluated by all of society as being valuable,” Hunter commented. “It gives some value to the church that’s beyond just the church’s religiosity.”
Hunter and his church have been involved in the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida, providing food, clothing, and shelter. The pastor’s service on the board and the community action taken in Seminole County by church members to fight homelessness were other reasons for the magazine’s selection.
“The county commissioners and the head of the school system came to us and said that we each of have a role, and the faith community has a significant role to play here,” he said. Hunter is asking for the participation of up to 200 churches of all faiths to combat the problem of school children who are homeless, an issue recently highlighted on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
Also, impressing the magazine’s selection committee was the church’s use of the Internet and social media. The church has more than 7,200 fans on Facebook and more than 3,100 followers on Twitter. Church services are broadcast live on Facebook.
A link to the magazine’s “50 Most Powerful” list on the church’s Facebook page had several church members giving the pastor kudos.
"And as if we Northlanders didn't already know this – all joking aside, congratulations and God bless," commented Rick Davis, 61.
When asked about his impressions of the pastor beyond his recent notariety, Davis said he is one of “the most sincere, down-to-earth ministers I've ever had the pleasure to listen to. He certainly is a believer in the word, preaches the word, but is not one to condemn or speak out harshly about a person and/or group of people.”