ORLANDO Fla. (RNS) — Megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, who tried to lead the nation’s evangelicals toward more moderate, center-right positions on issues like climate change and immigration, is stepping down as leader of Northland, a Church Distributed, in Longwood, Fla.

In a statement issued Wednesday (Aug. 2) to members of the congregation, Lead Pastor Vernon Rainwater described Hunter, 69, as “a man of integrity, full of compassion for others, and infectious love for Jesus Christ…His life and ministry have been a catalyst for worship and service throughout this city and around the world.”

Hunter declined to comment on the circumstances of

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