Following a tumultuous week at Hillsong church climaxing with the resignation of its Founder and Senior Global Pastor Brian Houston, three large U.S. churches are separating from the scandal-plagued global church. The three churches are Hillsong Phoenix, Hillsong Atlanta, and Hillsong Kansas City.
Hillsong Phoenix Lead Pastor Terry Crist announced on Sunday to his congregations that he has formally asked to separate from the megachurch network due to a governance dispute. Crist has called for an investigation of the global board of the Australia-based Hillsong Church.
"There are many reasons why we can't continue ... chief among them is our loss of confidence in the global board to continue leading us as a congregation," Crist told congregants during a service in Phoenix.
Crist continued. "Over the past year, following the sin that was exposed at Hillsong Church New York City and the subsequent investigation that was conducted into sexual misconduct and into financial misappropriation, I encouraged the results of that report [conducted by the church] to be made [public] in some general form," he said. "I asked that the report be redacted so names could be protected. I asked that the report be synopsized so we could embrace accountability and transparency. And for whatever reason, that request was denied."
Meanwhile, Sam Collier, lead pastor of Hillsong Atlanta, announced his exit from the megachurch in an Instagram post on Friday.
"It is with great sadness that I inform you of my departure from Hillsong," he wrote. "I have appreciated the Hillsong family and want to thank the Houstons for the love they have shown [my wife] Toni and me."
"My greatest reason for stepping down as Pastor of Hillsong Atlanta is probably not a secret to any of you," he continued. "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."
In a public statement last week, Hillsong board members stated they "committed to an independent review of our governance structure and processes" but did not provide details of a timeline or potential outside partners for that assessment.