The Birmingham News reports…
“After leaving his previous church following an inappropriate relationship, former megachurch Pastor Dino Rizzo has joined the staff at The Church of the Highlands.
Rizzo took a sabbatical in July 2012 and then resigned as senior pastor of the Healing Place Church he founded in 1993 in Baton Rouge, La.
Rizzo preached at the Church of the Highlands on Wednesday night, his first sermon in 14 months, and will serve on the staff at Highlands as an associate pastor. His sermon topic was “How to come back to the Father.”
The Rev. Chris Hodges, pastor of the Church of the Highlands, introduced Rizzo before his sermon and explained the situation.
“Dino has been an amazing inspiration to me and to people all over the world,” said Hodges. He said he has known Rizzo for more than 20 years.
“In the spring of 2012, Dino found himself in a very depleted, tired state with an unhealthy relationship with God and his family, and it was during that time that Dino got involved in the early stages of a brief but inappropriate friendship with another woman. When the situation came to light, I and the other overseers at HPC got involved. It was our responsibility. We guided the church over the past year through healing and restoration.”
Hodges credited Rizzo as an inspiration for his founding of the Church of the Highlands.
“Dino is a large part of the reason I even came to Birmingham,” Hodges said. “He was the first person who challenged me to go plant a church.”
Hodges said he and the other overseers of Healing Place Church devised a restoration plan, 31 items long, which required counseling for Rizzo and his wife, Delynn.
Hodges said the restoration plan called for Rizzo to step down from ministry for one year, and have a second year of supervised ministry, and complete other requirements overseers felt would eventually qualify Rizzo to minister again.
Rizzo and his family have moved to Birmingham. Rizzo will serve one year under Hodges’ supervision as a condition of his terms of restoration to the ministry.
“They needed a place to go for the next season,” Hodges said.
Rizzo had stepped down last summer at the Healing Place in Baton Rouge, La. The full-gospel, non-denominational church started with a dozen people meeting in a small commercial building and now serves more than 8,000 people in churches at 10 locations from Baton Rouge to Mozambique, Africa.
“I just want to thank God for men who will stand by you,” Rizzo said in his sermon, referring to Hodges.
Rizzo will also be on staff at the Association of Related Churches, which he co-founded. It’s an organization that has planted more than 135 churches in 33 states.
In May 2013, Healing Place installed Mike Haman as the new senior pastor.”