The popular Hillsong Church is launching a new campus in Atlanta, Georgia, that will be led by husband-and-wife duo, Sam and Toni Collier. The power couple will be the first-ever African-American pastors of a Hillsong church.
According to Sam Collier, the mission of Hillsong Atlanta 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.”
Collier, who authored the 2020 book A Greater Story, told The Christian Post that he wants “to start a movement that not only changes Atlanta, but changes the world,” similar to how God used Martin Luther King Jr. 60 years ago.
“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 accepting the call to pastor Hillsong Atlanta, Sam and his wife, Toni, served at Atlanta-based North Point Community Church, led by Andy Stanley. After seven years of serving, Collier shared with Stanley his deep desire to plant a church.
“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.’”
Hillsong, founded in Australia in 1983 by Brian and Bobbie Houston, has a very diverse leadership staff with campuses across the world in cities such as Moscow, Paris, and London. However, the Colliers will be the first African Americans to serve as lead pastors when the Atlanta campus launches sometime in 2021.
Collier said “it’s awesome” that despite the pervasive racial unrest in 2020, the Hillsong founder felt it was time to “break the mold.” When Collier asked Houston if he could talk about race at the new campus, Houston said, “I want you to.”
“For me, it was so important to be able to talk about it, and Brian was so passionate about addressing the issues of the day. We wanted to go with a ministry that gave us the freedom to talk about it,” Collier said.
“Paul talks about being all things to all men. If we just see a white man proclaiming the Gospel at the highest level, we will think it’s a white religion. But if we can see all people proclaiming the Gospel, that helps us understand that we all have a place in the game,” he added.