As Hillsong Church’s scandals continue to pile-up, Sam Collier has had enough. The megachurch’s first lead Black pastor is calling it quits, following a series of scandals that culminated in this week’s resignation of founding pastor Brian Houston.
“It became a lot for our church, for a young church,” Collier told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “A lot of our members were becoming really fatigued with a lot of the scandals and having to talk about it so much. I say this all the time that trust is the only thing you have when building a church. People have to trust you if they’re going to donate and if they’re going to support it.”
Collier has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and is planning to plant a new church on Easter Sunday. He estimates about 90 percent of the Hillsong Atlanta leadership will follow him.
Last week, Hillsong revealed that Houston’s interactions with two women over the last decade had violated the church’s code of conduct. In one instance, Houston texted flirtatiously with a former staffer. In another, he ended up alone in the hotel room of a woman who was not his wife. Houston denies any sexual activity occurred and blames the action on a cocktail of anxiety medication and alcohol, but the woman reported it to the church and received an undisclosed amount of money. Houston, who had temporarily stepped down from leadership to focus on a legal battle over charges that he failed to report his father’s sexual abuse, resigned earlier this week.
The news followed a series of scandals from the influential megachurch that included the resignation of Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz following revelations of an affair, the dissolution of Hillsong’s Dallas campus following accusations of financial mismanagement and a series of other troubling headlines. A new documentary series called Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed is taking aim at the various headlines that have cratered a global institution that once counted the likes of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez among its congregants.
“I have no shame in admitting I cried like a baby moments after I informed the Hillsong global pastor of my departure,” Collier said on Instagram. “I truly love the Hillsong family and believe they will get through this storm and come out better than they were before.”
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