Son of Megachurch Preacher and Obama Spiritual Adviser Dies

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    Isaac Hunter, founding pastor at Summit Church in Orlando, Fla.(CNN) The son of a Florida megachurch pastor who is close to President Obama died on Tuesday, according to statements from two churches.

    Isaac Hunter, 36, died on Tuesday, according to Northland and Summit churches, two Orlando-area congregations with deep ties to the Hunter family.

    Hunter is the son of Joel Hunter, an evangelical who has been a spiritual adviser to Obama since his 2008 presidential campaign. The president and the pastor speak nearly once a week, and Joel Hunter was an adviser to the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

    “All of us are grieving for the Hunter family, and we will deeply miss Isaac. Words cannot express the sorrow we’re feeling,” said a statement by Vernon Rainwater, a pastor at Northland, which is based in Longwood, Florida.

    “We love this family and are so grateful for the impact they have had on each of our lives. I have loved Isaac since he was a child, and I know this … Isaac loved Jesus. And we are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ now in heaven.”

    With several campuses in central Florida, Northland is one of the largest evangelical churches in the state. Like his father, Isaac Hunter had been an evangelical megachurch pastor, a leader of Summit Church in Orlando.

    “By now you may have heard that our former Senior Pastor, Isaac Hunter, died today,” Pastor Jeff Kern wrote on Summit’s website. “As I write these words, it is hard to express the deep sorrow we as a staff team are feeling for this tragic loss.

    “Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Rhonda, their three children and their extended family. We love them and it is our desire to support them in any way we can during this difficult time,” Kern continued.

    “As we look back on Isaac’s ministry here at Summit, we are profoundly grateful for the impact he had in all of our lives. We know that Isaac is deeply loved by Jesus, even in a time of brokenness…” Kern wrote.

    Neither Northland nor Summit churches mentioned the cause of death. Requests for information from Orlando Police Department were not immediately returned. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said they did not respond to Hunter’s death.

    Cameron Strang, the founder of an Orlando-based evangelical magazine, described Isaac Hunter as a friend and former pastor who had “some significant struggles.”

    “Isaac was my pastor for several years. He was an amazing teacher,” Strang, founder of RELEVANT magazine, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday evening.

    “Around this time last year, Isaac resigned his position at our church amid some very public scandals. He had a wife of 13 years and 3 young kids, and the time since then has been incredibly difficult for our church. His family lives around the corner from me, and I see them often,” Strang continued.

    “Isaac loved Jesus and was a talented and dedicated pastor for more than a decade. But he had some significant struggles. The unfathomable news today is devastating for many. Please pray for his family. Please pray for our church. Pray for his kids,” Strang said.

    Friends of the Hunter family expressed also condolences on Twitter Tuesday night.

    Joshua DuBois, the former director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, wrote:

    Praying hard for my dear friends Joel and Becky Hunter. Please join me in lifting them, and all who loved Isaac, up.

    — Joshua DuBois (@joshuadubois) December 10, 2013

    Kay Warren, the wife of megachurch pastor Rick Warren, who lost their son Matthew to suicide in April, wrote:

    My heart is broken for the Joel Hunter family in the loss of their beloved Isaac. No words, just tears.

    — Kay Warren (@KayWarren1) December 11, 2013

    CNN’s Eric Marrapodi contributed reporting.

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