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 Hunter—resigned 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 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.