Benny Hinn's brother steps aside as Sanford pastor

Orlando Sentinel/January 20, 2013

Sam Hinn, brother of televangelist Benny Hinn, has stepped aside as pastor of The Gathering Place Worship Center in Sanford. Church officials announced his decision to leave the pulpit during Sunday services.

In a letter to the congregation, Sam Hinn, 51, said he was temporarily stepping aside to devote time to his marriage, after ending a relationship, a church member said. Sam Hinn and his wife, Erika, have been married for more than 25 years and have four children.

The letter did not specify what kind of relationship Sam Hinn was involved in or with whom.

On Wednesday, church officials told members of the church that a pastor from another church would be ministering to Sam Hinn during his "restoration process" and that Sam Hinn was expected to return to the church he founded in 1996.

Sam Hinn did not respond to repeated calls from the Sentinel, nor did officials from the church respond to inquiries.

The Gathering is a diverse, multi-ethnic, church with a high-energy, rock concert style of worship. The majority of members are young to middle aged. The church has two morning services on Sunday with more than 300 members in attendance at each service. There is also a small afternoon service in Arabic.

Sam Hinn also is also interim pastor of Heartland Church in Dallas, Texas, and commutes between the two churches. Services at the Sanford church are streamed live to the Dallas church.

Televangelist Benny Hinn, who was criticized for his lavish lifestyle while pastor of the World Outreach Center in Orlando in the 1990s, became embroiled in a relationship with evangelist Paula White in 2011 after the two were photographed holding hands in Rome.

Benny Hinn, 60, left World Outreach Center in 1999 after 14 years and moved to California. White took over New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka after the death of Pastor Zachery Tims.

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