Sam Hinn, 51-year old younger brother of well-known controversial healing evangelist, Benny Hinn, has added himself to the recent list of high-profile Christian ministers stepping down from their pulpits due to marital infidelity, a disproportionate number of which are headquartered in Central Florida. Hinn and his wife of more than 25 years, Erika, who reportedly is staying in the marriage to work through the marital issues, have four children.
In a letter he first read at the Wednesday night service January 16 to the congregation of The Gathering Place Worship Center located in Sanford, Florida, a church he founded in 1996, while not specifically stating his reason(s) for stepping down, Hinn said in part, “I take full responsibility for the place we now find ourselves. As painful as this is to confess, I have allowed myself to be drawn into a relationship that has caused much hurt and pain to my wife and family. I have repented and asked for and received their forgiveness. Scripture states that I must bring forth the fruit of repentance if I expect to be restored….”
Hinn’s statement was reportedly read in the Sunday services as well, though it was not clear if by Hinn himself or someone else. (See full statement below.)
Born in Israel to Palestinian Eastern Orthodox parents, Hinn served as an associate pastor under his brother Benny’s leadership as the senior pastor of World Outreach Center in Orlando that the elder Hinn founded in the early ’80s. While Sam has remained closely associated to Benny Hinn Ministries and often ministers in BHM sponsored crusades and meetings, he launched the church now named The Gathering Place Worship Center in the 90s, and remained in the Orlando metroplex with his church when Benny suddenly and mysteriously stepped down as senior minister of the mega-church he founded in 1999, moved his headquarters to Grapevine, Texas, and sold the Orlando church facilities to music-evangelist, Clint Brown, who merged his congregation with the WOC congregation, and renamed it, Faith Word Outreach Church.
According to a report by The Orlando Sentinel, The Gathering Place Worship Center, known locally for its raucous rock-concert worship style, conducts two Sunday morning services, each attended by about 300 people, as well as a sparsely attended Arabic language service on Sunday afternoon started primarily for his mother and a few other family members and friends whose native language is Arabic.
A snippet from the Gathering Place Worship Center website states:
“In our relatively short history, we have had hundreds and hundreds of services, and we’ve seen God change people’s lives in incredible ways…. The Gathering Place remains a place where the body ministers to the body, where we are encouraged to be God’s hands and feet in whatever walk of life the Lord has called us to. We learn that God wants to use us to reach the world and that we are called to be His representative in our homes, our schools, our jobs and wherever we are.”
In a statement posted on the church’s website, The Gathering Place’s governing board stated:
“We are deeply saddened by the recent disclosure by Pastor Sam Hinn! …(He) has been relieved of all ministry responsibilities and as the official board, we have outlined a restoration process…(that) includes pastoral and professional counseling, as well as a mandatory time out of ministry so that all fractures in both his personal and family life may be healed.” (Read the full statement below).
The board also announced it has asked a pastor from a nearby Assembly of God church to oversee the restoration process, who appointed an associate pastor to fill pulpit duties on an interim basis.
Suzanne Hinn (nee Harthern) divorced Sam’s brother Benny in early 2010 citing “irreconcilable differences” after a 31 year-marriage that produced four children, as well. Prior to the finalization of the divorce, controversy erupted again when a tabloid paper published a photo of Benny Hinn and high-profile evangelist Paula White holding hands as if they were a romantic couple sashaying the streets of Paris, and alleged the two evangelists were engaged in an affair and occupying a room in a ritzy Paris hotel. Both subsequently denied there was an affair and that they shared the same hotel room. Though Benny Hinn made a very showy public announcement on his television program in 2012 that he and Suzanne were reconciling and would be remarried by renowned Charismatic pastor Jack Hayford in December 2012 following a series of counseling sessions, Benny reportedly refused to participate in any further sessions after the first one, and a remarriage as of the time of this writing has not occurred.###
Below is the full text of Sam Hinn’s statement posted on the church’s website:
After much soul searching I have come to the understanding that I need to take a break from the ministry. Erika and I have been aware, for some time, that there have been fractures developing in our marriage that must be addressed.
Although neither Erika nor I have ever claimed perfection, this morning I take full responsibility for the place we now find ourselves. As painful as this is to confess, I have allowed myself to be drawn into a relationship that has caused much hurt and pain to my wife and family. I have repented and asked for and received their forgiveness.
The Scripture states that I must bring fort the fruit of repentance if I expect to be restored; therefore, I have submitted myself to leadership of this Church and the Apostolic covering of Pastor Ron Johnson of One Church.
Therefore, I am taking a leave of absence from any and all ministry so I can focus my full energy on both my walk with God and restoration in my family.
TGP, I love you all very much and apologize for hurting you. I ask that you please pray for my family during this difficult season and I ask you to stand with us as we take this much needed time to heal.
With the support of my family and help of those around me, it is my full intention to be fully restored and return to my responsibilities as your pastor, as soon as the Lord permits.
Please respect the privacy of our family during this difficult time. We ask that no one, phone, text, or email us at this time.
Below is the statement of the church’s governing board posted on the church’s website:
We are deeply saddened by the recent disclosure from Pastor Sam Hinn! However, as Christians, we have the Bible to guide us when there is a failure.
Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” Therefore our fervent goal and objective is full and complete healing and restoration.
Pastor Sam Hinn has been relieved of all ministry responsibilities and as the official board, we have outlined a restoration process. This process includes Pastoral and Professional Counseling, as well as a mandatory time out of ministry so that all fractures in both his personal and family life may be healed.
Although this will be a lengthy process, we are very hopeful and remain encouraged by the response of both Pastor Sam and his wife Erika.
We have asked for and received the counsel and leadership support of Pastor Ron Johnson of One Church in Longwood, Fla. He has committed to walk with us during this difficult season and to provide ongoing spiritual help and guidance.
We ask you to pray for Pastor Sam and Erika as well as our leadership team as we seek to navigate this trying season!
Official Board “The Gathering Place”
Read article by Steve Strang, Founder/Publisher of Charisma Magazine, whose family were members of “The Gathering Place” for 12 years: Are There Warning Signs Your Pastor is Falling?
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