Hillsong Church is launching a new location in Atlanta, Georgia, led by husband-and-wife duo Sam and Toni Collier, the first-ever African-American lead pastors of a Hillsong church.
“We want to start a movement that not only changes Atlanta, but changes the world,” Sam Collier, author, adviser to the MLK Jr. family, and founder of A Greater Story Ministries, told The Christian Post. “Just like God did with Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta nearly 60 years ago, there was a model that was built that went on to impact the entire world. We want to be a model of unity and understanding and bring about revival.”
The mission of Hillsong Atlanta, Collier told CP, is to “reach and influence the world by building a large Christ-centered, Bible-based church, changing mindsets and empowering people to lead and impact in every sphere of life.”
“Hillsong Atlanta is the marrying of many different worlds, racially, and even politically, to represent the fullness of God,” he said. “What better place to launch a church with this vision than in the birthplace of civil rights?”
Prior to pastoring Hillsong Atlanta, Collier, who authored the 2020 book A Greater Story, served at Atlanta-based North Point Community Church, led by Andy Stanley. Seven years after serving at North Point, Collier felt God calling him to the next stage in ministry.
“When I discussed church planting with Andy, he told me, “Sam, I think you want to build a different type of church, and that’s OK. God does His thing in a lot of different environments,’” Collier recalled. “He blessed us and freed us, and challenged us to go to seminary. After praying about what we should do next, that’s when I called a friend about Hillsong and said, ‘I think this might be our new home.’”
Founded in Australia in 1983 by Brian and Bobbie Houston, Hillsong has since become one of the largest evangelical Christian churches in the world. In addition to multiple locations across Sydney, Hillsong also has international branches in London, Kiev, Cape Town, Stockholm, Paris, Moscow, New York City and Los Angeles, among others.
But while the church has a diverse leadership staff, the Colliers, who share a young daughter, Dylan, are the first African Americans to serve as lead pastors.
“It’s awesome,” said Collier, who added that amid the racial unrest prevalent in 2020, Houston felt it was time to “break the mold.”
“Brian’s heart was ‘it’s time for us to do this,’” he said. “When we first talked, I said, ‘Can I talk about race?’ and Brian said, ‘I want you to.’”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett