Summit Church—a large, multi-site church in south Florida—has announced that one of its main pastor/elders has been removed after admitting he stole money from the church.
In a statement released to The Roys Report, Summit stated that Jim Hines, formerly listed on the Summit website as a directing elder, was caught stealing money from an offering on Christmas Eve. Hines also admitted to stealing cash from the church in 2018, the statement said. Summit said Hines’ employment has been terminated.
At the end of Summit’s livestreamed service on Sunday, Jamin Stinziano, another directing elder at Summit, announced to the congregation that there would be an important “family meeting” following the service “because there’s some things we need to share with you.” That family meeting was not livestreamed, but reportedly addressed the issue with Hines.
Summit Church, which began in 2003 on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University, has three campuses. Its University Campus and Gateway Campus are in Fort Myers. A third campus is in Naples. According to Summit’s website, the church practices an “Interdependent Leadership” model, which includes seven (now six) directing elders with equal authority who “lead under the authority and headship of Jesus Christ.”
In addition to his position with Summit Church, Hines also is listed as being on the leadership team at Saturation Church Planting, a fellowship of churches committed to “gospel saturation in North America.”
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According to Summit’s statement, Hines was first accused of taking cash during an offering count in 2018. “That charge was taken seriously and Jim was put on leave,” the church said. “At that time, he denied the accusation and ultimately it could not be confirmed.”
However, the statement adds that Hines “was seen violating one of our protective policies” on Christmas Eve. This led to Hines “being caught stealing $1,000 from an offering. He also has admitted to stealing when he was initially accused in 2018.”
The church said it is conducting a full investigation with the help of third parties to determine if other theft may have occurred. When asked if the church has reported the theft to local authorities, Communications Pastor Joe O’Neal responded, “I can’t comment on anything right now as we’re still gathering information.”