Hillsong Atlanta pastor resigns after Australian co-founder’s scandal

Hillsong Atlanta Lead Pastor Sam Collier has resigned and plans to start a new church. Here he is shown with his wife, Toni, and their daughter, Dylan. Toni Collier is the founder of Broken Crayons Still Color, an international ministry for women.

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Hillsong Atlanta Lead Pastor Sam Collier has resigned and plans to start a new church. Here he is shown with his wife, Toni, and their daughter, Dylan. Toni Collier is the founder of Broken Crayons Still Color, an international ministry for women.

Sam Collier will launch a new Atlanta church on Easter Sunday

Less than a year after launching Hillsong Atlanta, Lead Pastor Sam Collier has resigned.

Collier cited multiple scandals involving the global megachurch, which is based in Australia, including that of its co-founder Brian Houston, who recently resigned after accusations of inappropriate behavior toward two women.

There were also allegations of sexual abuse and threats involving another pastor in New York, which occurred six months before the launch of the Atlanta church.

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Despite corrective action by the megachurch that includes an independent investigation, Collier said it was too late.

While Hillsong Atlanta tried to push through the adversity, the scandals and news reports and “the church’s subsequent management of these attacks,” have been a challenge, he said.

“It became a lot for a our church, for a young church,” he said. “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, who grew up in Atlanta, the son of a pastor, described crying like a baby before turning in his resignation to the global nondenominational church, which has attracted diverse and young congregants.

However, Collier, 33, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, is not going away.

He plans to launch Story Church on Easter Sunday. Services will be held at Center Stage Atlanta on Peachtree Road.

Collier said he and his wife, Toni, had talked about starting a church before joining the Hillsong family.

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Collier said he does not know whether Hillsong Atlanta will continue as a church and that decision would be left to the global megachurch.

According to its website, Hillsong has 11 churches in the United States, including Atlanta. Atlanta was the first church plant in the Southeast.

He expects 90 percent of his leadership staff to follow him to the new church and that might also be reflected in the congregation. The average weekly attendance at Hillsong Atlanta is 500 with about 15,000 online, according to the church.

Collier has served in metro Atlanta faith community for years, including stints Ebenezer Baptist Church, then Bishop Eddie Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and later with Andy Stanley at North Point Ministries as a communicator, someone who hosted services and sometimes guest speaking.

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He is also the founder of A Greater Story Ministries which houses a nationally televised interview series and podcast called “A Greater Story with Sam Collier.” He is also the author of “A Greater Story.”

He counts Stanley and Bernice King, the daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as his mentors and close friends.

Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston founded Hillsong Church in 1983. It now has locations in more than two dozen nations, according to its website.