Less than a week after Sam Collier announced his resignation as pastor of Hillsong Atlanta amid the ongoing controversies that have scandalized the global Hillsong Church, Collier announced on Sunday that Hillsong Atlanta will dissolve entirely.
A new church will take its place, a church that Collier had always intended to plant, called Story Church.
“I hear the Spirit of the Lord saying, ‘This isn’t a step back.’ God is saying, ‘This is the birthing. This is the birthing of something new.’ I hear the Lord saying, ‘At this month, it’s exactly nine months.’ It’s exactly nine months,” Collier said as the Hillsong Atlanta worship team finished leading the church in song. “And what the Spirit of the Lord is saying in this moment is, ‘I’ve been preparing you.’ Hillsong has been the ground in which the seed was planted, because He does nothing on accident. And He used the incubation period to birth something new.”
“Does anybody believe God for the new,” Collier asked the congregation. They responded with applause and shouts of affirmation.
After Collier invited the band and congregation to take their seats, Collier said, “So, we’ve got some business to cover, and I’m going to jump right in, because we’ve got a lot of things to do today.”
Collier began by acknowledging that people in the room may be feeling different ways about him and Hillsong at the moment and asked for grace, as he promised to do his best to address everything he could.
Collier first addressed why he made the decision to leave Hillsong.
He explained that in 2020, he felt a calling from God to plant a church amid the deep social unrest taking place both throughout the nation and locally in Atlanta, in order to be a place of racial reconciliation in the name of Jesus. Collier further explained that these conversations with Hillsong began before the recent scandal involving Carl Lentz and the latest revelations surrounding Brian Houston.
The result of those conversations would be Collier leading a “Hillsong Family Church,” meaning that the church would not be corporately owned by Hillsong Church but rather would be locally governed. At the time, Collier had planned on naming the new congregation Story Church.
However, then Houston offered for the church to become “Hillsong Atlanta,” with Collier being the first African American pastor to lead a Hillsong church.
A week after the announcement was made, Carl Lentz was fired from Hillsong East Coast, bringing on an onslaught of negative media attention. Collier explained that scandals continued to unfold as Hillsong Atlanta prepared for its launch six months later and into the present moment.