Benjamin Houston, pastor at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia and son of its founders Brian and Bobbie Houston, has announced that the first gathering for the new church plant in Los Angeles he is leading with his wife will take place at the end of January.
"We are going to be having our first HILLSONG LA GATHERING in just a few weeks time on Monday January 27th," Houston announced in an email sent to followers on Friday. "We are just finalizing some of the details but will update you ASAP (through) email and social media. It would be a great opportunity to meet you and for you to meet others who could potentially make up our church."
Houston, in his early 30s, also shared that he, his wife, Lucille and their three children have "literally just moved out of our house," as shown in a photo the Hillsong LA pastor published on Instagram. The Houstons fly to Los Angeles on Jan. 6, but will have to return to Sydney in February for an extended time due to visa issues and scheduled events, he explained.
The pastor further explained that the first Hillsong LA gathering would be an opportunity for supporters "to meet/hang out/have fun" with each other and some members of the church team.
"We will start connect groups from here and have different events that will work towards a start date," Houston added. "Long way to go in building teams, finding venues, equipment, etc... Praying it all doesn't take too long tho."
The connect groups, small midweek hang-outs meant to help foster community and spiritual growth among members, will tentatively be formed throughout greater Los Angeles and "become a foundation of our church," he explained.
Brian C. Houston, senior pastor of Hillsong Church, announced in Sept. 2013 that Benjamin, one of his three adult children, would be helming Hillsong LA, the Pentecostal megachurch's second U.S. congregation.
The elder Houston stated in a blog at the time about the expansion: "God is good and His timing is perfect! Los Angeles is a city of millions of people — people chasing broken dreams, people desperate for hope in a higher cause, people longing for meaningful relationships with one another.
"Hillsong Church is about all those things. It is about 'welcoming home' the lost, the broken, the hurting, and the lonely. It's about connecting families; building purpose and value into everyONE and it is about seeing the Good News of Jesus Christ proclaimed everywhere — including the bright lights of big cities like LA."
He expressed his "heart and prayer" that Hillsong LA "will add to the growing skyline a name Higher, Brighter and Greater than any other…JESUS."
Hillsong Church is a household name in Australia and throughout the world thanks in part to its worship band Hillsong United, led by the eldest Houston son Joel Houston, who also partners with Carl Lentz in leading Hillsong NYC. Hillsong NYC, the Australian ministry's first U.S. church plant, opened its doors in the fall of 2010 and currently welcomes more than 5,000 worshippers every week.
Brian and Bobbie Houston started Hillsong Church in 1983 as Sunday night outreach meetings that initially attracted a few dozen people. Now, the Sydney megachurch, affiliated with Australian Christian Churches (the Assemblies of God in Australia), is the country's largest and hosts over 30,000 worshippers every weekend. Hillsong Church has locations in London, Stockholm, South Africa, Barcelona and elsewhere around the world, in addition to six campuses and a dozen extension services across Australia.