A church in Florida witnessed a gun battle between the pastor and a former employee.

Pastor Terry Howell of Living Water Fellowship in Osceola County, was said to have met with Benjamin Parangan, a maintenance worker at the church at about 8 am on Tuesday to terminate his employment there.

It was gathered that the disgruntled Parangan pulled out a gun and fired several shots at Howell, who had also gone armed to the meeting and returned fire, badly wounding his former staff.

Reports say Parangan is believed to be in a stable condition in hospital and will be charged with aggravated assault with intent to kill.

Pastor Howell's actions will be treated as shooting in self-defence.

Howell's Living Water Church issued a statement saying: "We are in full support of the on-going Osceola County Sheriff's Office investigation into the traumatic incident that occurred at our church this morning. We will continue to cooperate with the investigators in every way that we can. Until the investigation is complete, we will not be making any public statements. Thank you for understanding. The members of our church will continue to pray for all those involved in this morning's incident. We would ask all who read this release to do the same."

Church members told local newsmen that the incident had left them shaken.

"To hear it happened here in my neighborhood, and not only my neighbourhood, but my church, it's shocking," said Robert Quintana.

"It could happen anywhere though, (in) the times we live in. Really unfortunate," he added.