The megachurch pastor who tried to lead the nation’s evangelicals toward moderate, center-right positions on issues like climate change and immigration is stepping down, declining to comment on the circumstances of his departure.
In the aftermath of the shooting at an Orlando, Fla., gay club, diverse leaders in the city have reached out to the LGBT community. One surprising photo emerged: evangelical megachurch pastor Joel Hunter shaking hands with Equality Florida’s Carlos Smith. It was a simple gesture, captured by a local newspaper reporter, but one with deep symbolic meaning.
For Immediate Release:
April 4, 2016
Michael Mershon / Sojourners firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaker of the House John Boehner signaled Wednesday that there would be no immigration reform this year, an announcement made the same day that some of the nation’s most prominent evangelical pastors met with President Barack Obama to try to advance the issue.
Only months ago, immigration reform seemed to enjoy strong bipartisan momentum.
It still does across the nation, said Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, one of the eight clergy invited to the Oval Office meeting.
“I urged the president not to make this a divisive issue, but to work with House Republicans,” said Moore. “We need to work together to fix the system rather than just scream at each other.”
The Obama administration, in a statement issued after the meeting, squarely blamed House Republicans for the impasse. The Democratic-led Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform plan in June.
There’s a price to pay for becoming the voice of moderate conservatism and coalition politics. Even more so for refusing to march in lockstep with the Republican Party.
Ask the Rev. Joel Hunter of Northland Church, Florida’s largest evangelical congregation. Hunter, 65, says his suburban megachurch may have lost as many as 1,500 members, or 10 percent of its membership, as a result of his ecumenical and political activism.
But the compact, upbeat, Midwesterner is sanguine — likening membership departures to separating the wheat from the chaff.
Church-state expert Melissa Rogers will be the new director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
“I’m honored to be able to serve President Obama by forging and promoting a wide range of effective partnerships with faith-based and secular nonprofits that help people in need,” Rogers said in a statement on Wednesday. Rogers succeeds Joshua DuBois, who left the office in February after serving throughout President Obama’s first term.
Rogers is already well-acquainted with the office she will direct. She chaired the office’s first advisory council and spearheaded its work to reform the office. In 2010, President Obama signed an executive order reflecting recommendations from the council that called for greater transparency and clearer rules for religious groups that receive federal grants.
Images from Day 1 of the 2012 Q Conference in Washington, D.C., Tuesday April 10, with speakers including Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis, philanthropist Roberta Ahmanson, the Rev. Joel Hunter, researcher Ed Stetzer, NYT columnist Ross Douthat, Michael Cromartie and Q founder Gabe Lyons.
Several weeks ago (right before I left for my sabbatical), I joined with six other pastors from around the country -- in partnership with Sojourners -- to draft an open letter to Congress and President Barack Obama regarding the budget and the proposals to cut certain programs that aid the poor in our country. Our hope was to invite at least 1,000 pastors to join us in signing this document.
As of today, we've had nearly 5,000 pastors and Christian leaders from all 50 states join us in signing this open letter, and we hope to keep adding voices and signatures. As a pastor and Christian leader will you add your voice to let our political leaders know that you stand with the poor?