Zach Van Dyke, a pastor at Summit Church, a muli-site, megachurch in Orlando, Florida, has resigned after admitting an adulterous affair, the church announced. (Photo Credit: Key Life Network Website)

Orlando Church Community Reels from News of Another Pastor Scandal

By Jackson Elliott

The Orlando church community is reeling from news that a fourth megachurch pastor in 10 years has succumbed to sexual sin and is resigning.

Summit Church, a multi-site megachurch in Orlando, Florida, announced on its blog last week that Zach Van Dyke, pastor of Summit’s Herndon Campus, has resigned after admitting an extra-marital affair.

In the post, Summit Lead Pastor John Parker wrote that the church had learned of Van Dyke’s “adulterous relationship” with “a person not involved at Summit” last Tuesday. When confronted, Van Dyke confirmed the relationship and agreed to resign, Parker wrote. (The church today removed the blog post, but has not responded to inquiries about why it removed the post.)

In 2012, Summit faced a similar crisis when Isaac Hunter—son of well-known author and former megachurch pastor, Joel Hunterresigned after admitting an affair with a church staffer. Tragically, Isaac Hunter died by suicide the following year.

Also, within six months of Hunter’s resignation, two other pastors of Orlando-area megachurches resigned due to adultery—David Loveless, former lead pastor of Discovery Church, and Sam Hinn, former pastor of The Gathering Place Worship Center. (Hinn was restored to ministry at Orlando’s Living Edge Church within eight months. Loveless now works as a leadership coach and pastor of discipleship at First Baptist Church Orlando.)

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“I am angry that I, along with many of you, have to walk the all-too-familiar path of brokenness in leaders we love,” Parker wrote on the blog. “I am grieved that there will be crises of faith in places where we unknowingly supplant faith in God with faith in a person. I am grieved at the temptation towards cynicism or disengagement. There is much to lament.”

In the past ten years, several other Orlando Christian leaders have also been caught in scandals.

R.C. Sproul Jr. resigned in 2016 from his positions at Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College in nearby Sanford, Florida, after visiting adultery website Ashley Madison.

Pastor Zachary Tims of Orlando’s New Destiny Christian Center was found dead in a New York hotel in 2011, after overdosing on cocaine and heroin. Before his death, he had a history of taking drugs and committing adultery, his wife said.

Pastor Bryan Fulwider, cohost of a local radio show and senior pastor of First Congregational Church in nearby Winter Park, Florida, committed suicide in 2019. Fulwider was facing charges for repeatedly raping a girl who attended his church.

Jeremy Schurke, head of Mirror Labs—the research arm of the men’s discipleship ministry, Man in the Mirror—spoke to the general heartbreak and concern he has for Van Dyke and his family, Summit leaders, his friends at Summit, the local church community, and pastors in general. He has several friends who have completely disengaged from church due to pastoral failings over the past several years.

“Yeah, I’ve talked to some friends who said they just feel numb,” Schurke said. “For many, it hurts. It’s bad. Unfortunately, some may end up leaving, but I know others who will faithfully stay and fight for Summit and this community.”*

At the time of Isaac Hunter’s resignation, Summit had an average attendance around 5,000. One area pastor estimates the church has 4,000 congregants now, but The Roys Report was unable to confirm attendance with Summit.

Summit Campus Pastor Van Dyke also worked with KeyLife Network, a Bible teaching program. According to KeyLife President George Bingham, Van Dyke will no longer work with the ministry.

“We are profoundly saddened and concerned for Zach Van Dyke, his family, and the church family at Summit Church, with the news reported about Zach last week,” Bingham said in an email to The Roys Report.

As of Saturday, Van Dyke’s name was no longer on the church website’s list of staff.

Parker stated in his now-removed blog that the church had assembled an intervention and care team to help Van Dyke tell his wife and work toward reconciliation.

“Though I am pained in the present, I am not fearful that sin will somehow win the day,” Parker added. “We have an amazing church family, and a strong, talented, and humble staff team, and we will move forward trusting that God will lead us according to his grace and mercy and because of his great love for us.”

In his sermon at Summit on Sunday, Parker said that the church would host a Zoom meeting to discuss Van Dyke’s dismissal Monday night. However, a search of the church website showed no meetings scheduled for tonight and no way to register for a meeting.

*This article has been updated to convey Jeremy Schurke’s sentiments more accurately.

Jackson ElliottJackson Elliott is a Christian journalist trained at Northwestern University. He has worked at The Daily Signal, The Inlander, and The Christian Post, covering topics ranging from D.C. politics to prison ministry. His interests include the Bible, philosophy, theology, Russian literature, and Irish music.

 

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26 thoughts on “Orlando Church Community Reels from News of Another Pastor Scandal”

  1. This is happening at a frightening rate in America. It use to be a dripping faucent and now it is a fire hose. We need to start dealing with the problems within our four walls ASAP or we won’t have many churches.

    1. What leads you to believe the problems you’re referencing are any worse today than they were 5, 10 or 25 years ago?

      I don’t have empirical data one way or another but suspect the level of duplicity has remained constant for quite some time.

      1. Or maybe there was an awareness, but some didn’t want to know the truth. (Put your head in the sand type thing.) But, now it is becoming inescapable. Run Forest, run‼️

  2. This has to do with a lack of accountability……which is surprising for White Congregations. In Black Churches, it happens all the time and not much comes of it.

    1. “…a lack of accountability……which is surprising for White Congregations.”

      The only way I could make any sense of this statement, given the plethora of sexual scandals, abuse, and utter breakdown of accountability among predominantly white congregations, is if it were a poor attempt at sarcasm or satire, but sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case, which would make the whole comment ignorantly racist.

    2. What do you mean by “which is surprising for White congregations”? For that matter, what do you mean by your whole comment?

  3. Good grief. A cursory glance at the site – “Strategy Team”? “Stories”? Too many churches that adopt uber-casual, workforce-friendly business lingo either havign to completely change every few years, or go under because they couldn’t sustain their business models of “church-i-ness for the Silicon Valley hipster-wannabes”. The losers, again? His wife and children. Hopefully, he will genuinely repent and find a new vocational path.

    I wonder if this Summit Church is connected in any way to Summit CHurch in NC?

  4. david Erickson

    So sorry and grieved to read this. The pandemic has made compulsive and hurtful behavior even more common.

  5. These hip and cool “pastors” refuse to use the Billy Graham/Mike Pence rule. They are just too “spiritual” to “flee youthful lusts”. Very sad… and families get hurt… very sad…

  6. The wish for the church to stop producing the same results starts with being honest……..no more candy coating sin because we are afraid of reality. We are only putting lipstick on sin when we call it “FALLING INTO SIN”. The reality is that I (we) WALK into and embrace sin. Falling is a verb that indicates a power outside one’s self that we have no control over and is a sudden action.
    Speaking only for myself, I’ve never had an accidental sin…….I chose it all on my own using my God created power given to me to choose right or wrong.
    Yes…we are all tempted. It is not a personal condemnation to call sin out for what it is…..yet to soft peddle a sinful choice as an “accidental fall” is a kick in the teeth to the price Christ paid to redeem us.
    Kevin

  7. For these men have done terrible things among my people. They have committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives and have lied in my name, saying things I did not command. I am a witness to this. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
    From Jeremiah 29 NLT

  8. Please, do not judge our community from the outside. There were four separate meetings to address the concerns around Zach’s actions, with one on Zoom. Summit cares about their staff and pastors, but you cannot institutionalize or systematize holiness. Please pray for our community, Summit staff, and Zach and his family.

  9. What a selfish man. What about his family ? 5 kids, a nice home ! Everyone is hurt, the church, the family. As a mother of 5 kids who passed through very difficult time, not without God’s help, my heart hurt for them.

  10. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken from within.

    The Lord is purifying His church. Making His bride ready.

    Judgement begins with the house of the Lord.

    Nothing is hidden that will not be exposed.

    We must repent and learn to walk in holiness.

    Lord Jesus, give us Your holiness!

  11. Let anyone who thinks that he stands, take heed lest he fall

    Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour

    Praying for Zach and his family

  12. Back in the late 60s, the youth pastor of my church ran off with another pastor’s wife. It was a total scandal, an announcement was made that they were no longer in fellowship with the congregation, and they were gone (by the way, these folks were in their 40s). Now, we send them for counseling and rehab them so they can be “restored” and go to another ministry. In most cases, I believe that is a fatal error. They are no longer fit for pastoral ministry of any kind (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7), and should not even be considered. Sin is sin, but certain sins bring greater consequences to family and ministry life. By the way, I don’t find the counseling wrong-but not to counsel/restore back into pastoral ministry.

    1. Jennifer Eason

      I agree. The whole idea that restoring someone means “quick, get this person who sinned in some huge and scandalous way back into ministry” makes no sense to me. An elder, someone who has the right to speak to the church, is to be “above reproach”. To be restored to repentance, to fellowship, to communion, these are precious privileges, not second-rate, ho-hum dreary duties!

      1. I suspect the reason we have to get them “back” so soon, is because we’re running our churches like businesses… and because the hipster leaders presence on the staff is actually an “asset” that brings in the dough… they’re a cog in the machine and the machine must go on (raking it in) That’s why in many cases there’s an incentive to cover up, or to quickly move on or to “rehabilitate”… The big money-making venue must stay up and running at all costs…
        I understand this can happen in any setting, but I still think that mega-churchianity is especially primed for this kind of failure. I know it sounds judgemental and not nice and not popular, but I hope and pray american mega-churchianity withers and dies someday. (And not holding their hipster leaders accountable is one of the least of their sins…imo)

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