Megachurch pastor Joel Hunter: 'Evangelicals must repent of LGBT oppression'

Megachurch pastor Joel Hunter has said that evangelicals, including himself, must repent of where they have been complicit in the oppression of LGBT communities.

Evangelical megachurch pastor Joel Hunter shaking hands with Equality Florida's Carlos Smith.Twitter/ Bethany Rogers

The senior pastor of Northland Church, a 20,000 member, nondenominational church, admitted that "institutional forms of white Christianity" have been complicit in the denigration of LGBT communities, but expressed hope for "the next generation" of Christians.

Speaking in the aftermath of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Hunter told RNS that he had "to go back and examine my own heart, starting tonight in services.

"I've got to confess to my congregation that if there's anything I've said that could have ever led to anything — the dismissal or denigration of any other population — God, I am so sorry for that."

He admitted that "many of us, especially those in the conservative evangelical branch of the faith, don't normally think of the vulnerability of many of the communities around us...but this has put it on the agenda."

Although he said would not reimagine scripture in light of these events as a "matter of hermeneutical integrity", he admitted "there's much of scripture that can come up to a greater visibility when it comes to treating people who don't interpret scripture like you do or who may not believe in scripture at all."

His desire is that LGBT people "are treated with respect - that they're given every opportunity to live their full lives, that they're as precious in the eyes of God as anyone who has ever been made."

Despite the challenges within the church, Hunter identified a "great hope" in the next generation: "the expression of the Christian faith, the one embodied in Jesus Christ, will certainly change from the institutional form that has relied upon just tradition and sometimes force — to a much more responsive and much more understanding expression."