Megachurch Pastor's 5-Year-Old Granddaughter Dies

The five-year-old granddaughter of Florida megachurch pastor Joel C. Hunter passed away Sunday.

Ava Hunter succumbed to a rare form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, which did not respond well to chemotherapy and radiation. She was diagnosed in late June.

"Ava has gone to be with Jesus. Thank you for your prayers," stated a post made by Josh Hunter, Ava's father, on his father's church blog Sunday evening. "We are heartbroken for us, but know she is whole again. We serve a mighty God and are blessed by all of you. Continue to pray for Lisa, Noah and me as we walk the days ahead."

The elder Hunter, who leads the 12,000-member Northland church near Orlando, had mentioned his granddaughter in a recent Washington Post article about President Obama. While defending Obama's Christian faith, Hunter shared how the president had called earlier this summer to ask how Ava was doing.

"He said he and Michelle were praying for us," Hunter said, to The Washington Post.

"Remember, the Lord is with you on this," Hunter recalled the president saying.

The evangelical Florida pastor was part of Obama's inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and is among an inner circle of pastors that offers spiritual counsel to the president.

Hunter and his wife Becky have three sons and six grandchildren, including Ava. Ava's father, Josh, is Hunter's eldest son.

A memorial service for Ava has been scheduled for Sept. 9 in the sanctuary of Northland Church.

The service will be officiated by Pastor Isaac Hunter of Summit Church and be broadcast online.

In lieu of flowers, Ava's parents have asked that donations be made to the Ava Hunter Fund.

On the Web:

Northland, A Church Distributed's website at

Summit Church's website at

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