Hillsong Church's first African American pastor is leaving after the allegations of misconduct plagued the megachurch's founder.
The lead pastor of Hillsong Church's Atlanta, Georgia-based branch is stepping down from his role. Sam Collier, who is also the first first-ever African American lead pastor of a Hillsong church, announced his departure on Wednesday afternoon.
"My greatest reason for stepping down as Pastor of Hillsong Atlanta is probably not a secret to any of you," Collier wrote in an emotional Instagram post. "With all of the documentaries, scandals, articles, accusations and the church's subsequent management of these attacks it's become too difficult to lead and grow a young Church in this environment."
The Hillsong Church lead pastor described the announcement as one that "hurt [his] heart deeply" and admitted "crying like a baby" after he informed the Hillsong global pastor of his departure. He said that his final service will be this Sunday and to anticipate a "new Church" that he is "planting/launching on Easter Sunday 2022."
Hillsong Atlanta began in October 2020 and was described by Collier as a "multicultural, spirit-filled and theologically astute church," the Christian Post reported. He added that the church wanted to "provide a model for how to be unified" and have a ministry that was "multicultural and unified."
Collier's announcement came hours after Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston announced that he had resigned as global senior pastor. Houston has been plagued with several scandals, including one about a child sex abuse cover-up involving his own father, Frank Houston.
On Sunday, Hillsong Church lead pastor Phil Dooley announced that Houston faced misconduct allegations from a staffer who in 2013 received "inappropriate messages" from Houston. In 2019, Houston was involved in an incident wherein he spent almost an hour in a woman's hotel room while under the influence of alcohol and anxiety medication.
But Houston isn't the only Hillsong Church leader who was involved in a scandal. In 2020, the megachurch's lead pastor Carl Lentz was fired for his "moral failures," including having an affair with a woman despite being married. A documentary on Discovery+ titled "Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed" that was released this week delves into Lentz's adulterous relationship with Ranin Karim, Variety reported.
Meanwhile in April 2021, former Hillsong Dallas Lead Pastor Reed Bogard and his wife, Jess had also suddenly resigned from their positions after they were investigated for their "leadership failures," which led to the shuttering of the Dallas campus. The scandals did not stop with the pastors leading Hillsong Church. According to the New York Post, a preacher's daughter named Anna Crenshaw who was studying at Hillsong College in 20167 reported that she was once assaulted by a Hillsong staffer. When she reported the incident to the church, leadership questioned her in what "felt like an interrogation." In addition, former Hillsong College students said in the Discovery+ documentary that cover-ups were part of the Hillsong Church culture.
It is yet unclear how many more lead pastors are set to depart Hillsong Church after this tumultuous week. For Collier, however, his path is clear. The "A Greater Story" author, who previously served at the Atlanta-based North Point Community Church said that while he believes that Hillsong Church will weather the storm, he will move on to pursuing other things, such as establishing his own church.