Hunter’s chaplaincy closes season


The Rev. Joel Hunter, senior pastor at Northland, A Church Distributed, will be the Chautauqua chaplain for Week Nine. Hunter will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday Service of Worship and Sermon in the Amphitheater and will speak about his faith journey at the 5 p.m. Vespers in the Hall of Philosophy. He will preach at the weekday 9:15 a.m. Devotional Hour in the Amphitheater.

The title of Sunday’s sermon is “Searching for Complements,” and the sermon text is Genesis 2:15, 18-23.

Northland is a congregation of 15,000 that worships at four sites in Central Florida and at more than 1,000 sites worldwide via interactive webcast. Hunter has served as senior pastor since 1985. He has championed what he calls “compassion issues” found in Scripture, including pro-life concerns, justice, poverty and creation care.

He serves on the boards of the World Evangelical Alliance and the National Association of Evangelicals and is regularly featured on local and national media outlets. A longtime bridge-builder who seeks common ground for the common good, he is frequent consultant to U.S. agencies, serving on the White House Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He remains a spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama.

Hunter provided the following words as a preview of his chaplaincy this week:

Someone once said, “You plan by looking forward, but you understand by looking back.”  

Jesus put it like this: “A disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matthew 13:51)

I grew up in a simpler time, and in a small midwestern town. But these days I interact with international leaders who are trying to take the right steps into the future. What is my contribution in those conversations? Telling stories about people and principles I learned years ago in a culture of common sense.  

For example, the first time I tried to water ski, somebody told me there are just two things to remember: one, keep your knees bent, because you need to stay flexible in rough water; and two, when you fall, let go of the rope! I have spent my whole life staying flexible on bended knees so I fall less, and letting go of my failures so they don’t continue to drag me around (I’ve learned to wait for the rope to circle back so I can try again). These are such simple lessons for going into an unpredictable time, and for the resiliency (redemption) we will need for those times we fail.

Jesus taught by telling stories, and as his disciple, I do too.  Many of my stories have to do with irritating people or circumstances that were necessary for my growing up. I hope you will come this week and hear Him through some personal stories and life lessons we all have in common.