After resigning his Healing Place Church pulpit last September, the Rev. Dino Rizzo has been reinstated into the ministry, but on a “supervised” basis, in Alabama.
Rizzo and his wife, DeLynn, who started the full-gospel, nondenominational church in 1993, are now on the staff of Church of the Highlands, a mega-church in Birmingham, and are also serving part time for the Association of Related Churches, ARC, a group of more than 400 churches that Rizzo helped establish in 2000, according to a news release from ARC.
“Last Spring, in 2012, Dino found himself in a tired and depleted state and with an unhealthy relationship with God and his family,” writes the Rev. Greg Surratt, president of ARC on the organization’s website, arcchurches.com. “He became involved in the early stages of a brief, but inappropriate friendship with another woman,” Surratt writes, an admission that was widely rumored but never admitted to by Rizzo or anyone else connected to the situation.
Healing Place’s Overseers, an outside group of ARC pastors, including the Rev. Chris Hodges, pastor of Church of the Highlands, assumed responsibility to guide the church, along with its own board, when the Rizzos stepped down.
The Rev. Mike Haman and his wife, Rachel, were named interim pastors of Healing Place and earlier this summer were named senior pastors over the ministry that now serves more than 8,000 people in 17 local services and 10 locations from Baton Rouge to St. Francisville to Mozambique, Africa.
Haman attended the Alabama service on Aug. 7 when Rizzo was reinstated, and posted on his Facebook page a cellphone photo of Rizzo and messaged, “Grateful to be part of the celebration and restoration of 1 of my biggest spiritual mentors. Love@dinorizzo and @delynrizzo — amazing chapters yet to be written!!”
Haman’s Facebook entry was filled with dozens of comments from church members and friends declaring well wishes and prayers for the Rizzos.
“The Overseers put together a comprehensive plan that included rest, counseling for Dino and DeLynn, and a list of other actions that they, along with his counselors felt would, in time, qualify him to minister again,” Surratt says in the news release.
Surratt is also the senior pastor of the 18,000-member, eight-campus, Seacoast Church in Charleston, S.C.
Rizzo was required to step down from the ministry for a year, “followed by a year of supervised ministry before he would be considered fully restored,” Surratt writes, adding that Rizzo was also required to fulfill a list of 31 “benchmarks,” and “he and DeLynn have accomplished each one of them.”
In July the ARC board of directors met and, based upon the recommendations of the Overseers, Surratt writes, “formally installed Dino back into this season of ministry. We laid hands on him and released him to fulfill the call of God in his life again.”
According to real estate records, the couple recently sold their Baton Rouge home for just over $1 million.
Healing Place declined to comment for this story.