Influential church separates from Australia’s Assemblies of God.
After more than three decades as the largest and best-known member of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC), Hillsong Church announced last week it would split from its parent group and form its own denomination.
The leadership of both Hillsong and the ACC, a branch of the larger World Assemblies of God Fellowship, have described the parting as amicable.
“I want to make it clear that we have no grief or dispute at all with the ACC,” wrote Hillsong Church cofounder and global senior pastor Brian Houston in a letter announcing the separation. “Instead, this decision comes after almost two years of prayerful discussion within both our global and Australian church boards.”
Founded in Sydney in 1983 by Houston and his wife Bobbie, Hillsong exploded into one of the most recognizable brands in contemporary Christianity.
With three record labels, a broadcasting network, global conferences, and its own college, Hillsong has blossomed beyond the geographical contours of its former denomination. With churches in more than 20 countries across 5 continents and 263 separate church services per weekend, the network estimates weekly attendance at Hillsong churches averages about 130,000.
A relatively small denomination in terms of attending congregants—by contrast, there are nearly 70 million Assemblies of God members worldwide, and approximately 375,000 constituents of the ACC specifically—Hillsong boasts enormous influence. Tens of millions of Christians spanning 60 languages sing Hillsong originals, such as “What a Beautiful Name” and “Oceans,” every Sunday. Millions more watch and listen to its programming.
In his parting letter, Houston wrote admiringly of ACC president Wayne …
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