How soon is too soon for a pastor to return to the pulpit after 'fessing up to an affair? Apparently no more than eight months, if you're the brother of prominent televangelist Benny Hinn.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Sam Hinn, who admitted to a four-year extramarital affair in January, is already back in ministry. The younger Hinn completed a restoration process and was "re-ordained" Sunday at Orlando-area Church on the Living Edge, just eight months after he resigned from his position at Gathering Place Worship Center in Sanford, Florida.
In addition, Sunday's ceremony indicated that Hinn would be installed as a professor at Tabernacle Bible College Seminary in Tampa.
But not everyone is happy about Sam Hinn's restoration to the pulpit. Ron Johnson, a local pastor who counseled Sam Hinn, told the Sentinel that Hinn "walked out on a two-year restoration process after three months—leaving many of his problems unresolved."
Similarly, Johnson wrote in an op-ed for Charisma that he "outlined a two-year plan of restoration and walked through the initial stages with him. ... Sam wanted to renegotiate the terms. When I wouldn't agree to that, he withdrew from my covering and has since found a group of men willing to endorse his leadership in a more expeditious manner."
Johnson's perspective led Charisma to allege the next day that Sam Hinn's restoration could be financially motivated.
Sam Hinn isn't the only pastor to commit adultery (three other Orlando pastors did the same recently) and be restored to ministry as of late. Jim Bolin, founding pastor of Trinity Chapel Church of God in Powder Springs, Georgia, waited five years before returning to ministry—but unlike others, he was restored to his position at the church he founded.
Meanwhile, megachuch pastor Dino Rizzo has also returned to the pulpit at The Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, barely a year after resigning as senior pastor of Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
According to Alabama.com, "Overseers of Healing Place Church devised a restoration plan, 31 items long, which required counseling for Rizzo and his wife, Delynn," but Rizzo left the church and sought employment elsewhere.
CT previously has reported that the vast majority of National Association of Evangelical (NAE) board members say pastors can be restored to church roles after marital infidelity. The highest-profile case study: Ted Haggard, former NAE president and New Life Church pastor
In addition, CT has discussed how churches can recover after a pastor commits adultery, as well as on accountability groups for Christian leaders in Washington, D.C., where the well-being of one's marriage often impacts voters' decisions. CT also has examined whether or not wives should stand by their unfaithful husbands.
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