ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – The first and only Black pastor of the Hillsong megachurch in Atlanta is stepping down after a founder of the worldwide church was caught up in a major sex scandal.
Now, the local Black pastor there wants to distance himself from the international megachurch and its founder.
CBS46 spoke one-on-one with the local pastor right before he took center stage for his last Sunday service in front of his Hillsong Church congregation.
“The bitter piece is just, you feel like you are losing family,” said Sam Collier.
Collier is the first and only Black pastor in the world ever appointed to the Hillsong International Church. For the last year, he has been building a Hillsong Christian nondenominational chapter in Atlanta, but he says it wasn’t what he imagined.
“When me and my wife got announced as the first African American couple in the Hillsong world, a week after that, Hillsong New York happened with the call ins, so for about a year and a half it was just non-stop media,” said Collier.
Now, a new Hillsong scandal is in the media spotlight once again. This time, the founder of the megachurch, Brian Houston, is facing misconduct allegations involving two women.
In a statement, “The church confirmed that the founder admitted to sending inappropriate text messages to female staffers while on sleeping pills 10 years ago, and in 2019, an in-depth church investigation also revealed that following a church convention the founder mixed prescription drugs with alcohol, accidentally knocked on the wrong hotel room, and spent time with the female guest in the room.”
“It was a sad moment, it was an emotional moment,” Collier said.
Blindsided and disappointed by the news, Collier decided the best decision for him and his church congregation would be to cut ties with the Hillsong megachurch branch. He stepped down as pastor this week.
“We had so many congregants saying I don’t know if I can trust this place,” Collier explained.
He held his last Sunday service under the Hillsong branch Sunday at Center Stage Theater in Midtown.
“We realize, you know, that it might be better to replant a new place that people can believe in and trust in,” said Collier.
Now, even though this was the last time that Collier’s congregation would meet under the Hillsong branch, he says a new church is going to be born. They’re going to be called Story Church and they’re going to be meeting this Easter Sunday.
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