Amazing days are ahead for our church. We’re emerging from the global pandemic, and it’s been truly heartwarming to see smiling faces at in-person gatherings in all our locations. We’ve loved greeting people in the foyers (and even getting a few hugs before and after church!), chatting to our college students during the week, or randomly bumping into members of our congregation in our local suburb. All the kindness and encouragement have meant more than we can say. Your prayers for us and for our church have been deeply felt and much appreciated.
It hasn’t been an easy season. We’re navigating the most significant change in our church’s history – transitioning from the leadership of our founding pastors into a brand-new era of impact, centred (as always) on reaching people with the hope of Jesus. We’re incredibly thankful for Pastors Brian and Bobbie and the legacy they have established building a church focused on the cause of Christ and seeing His goodness at work in the lives of people. This legacy is what we have the honour to build on.
There’s been much to consider and re-evaluate. God has put it on our hearts to attend to the health of our church. This is a multifaceted goal, which begins with strengthening the wellbeing of our church family, volunteers and staff. Vital to this goal of building health are the practical aspects of church life, which has involved reviewing and fortifying our internal systems and structures so that we can sustain our existing responsibilities and propel the vision and mission of our church forward, guided and led by the Holy Spirit. We’ve also set up an external review of our global board and governance to help us serve our church better.
This has been a time of asking some tough but necessary questions in order to be more effective in all we’re called to do and be. One question we keep coming back to is: what are our key areas of focus in this new season? As a well-resourced church, we’re positioned to do a lot of good in the world. However, it’s wisdom to ask ourselves: what should we commit to? What has God graced us for? How can we be most fruitful? The answers to these questions will determine our strategy going forwards.
Girding all of the above is our genuine desire and encompassing purpose to set up our church for a bright and enduring future, and we’re excited about the days ahead. We’d love to see our church become a wellspring of life, brimming with testimonies of lives transformed and made fruitful, of relationships restored to health, and, ultimately, of the Good News of Jesus being shared in healthy church communities across Australia and beyond.
We are infinitely grateful for everyone who has contributed to our church: our faithful volunteers, our incredible staff and campus pastors, our church family as a whole. We would also love to thank everyone who gives financially into our church through their tithes and offerings and also through their unswerving sacrificing in our Heart for the House miracle offering each year.
We have wonderful memories from our many years at our church in Australia before setting out for South Africa, where we’ve had the privilege to establish a life-giving church filled with incredible people. Now, we look to the future with steadfast faith, fresh hope, and great expectation, knowing that God is with us in it all.
PHIL & LUCINDA DOOLEY
Nothing in recent history can compare with the effects this has had on the individual. The total impact of this may never be known but it is evident many have endured significant levels of anxiety, fear and a sense of hopelessness made even worse by the need for isolation. Then there is the financial impact this has had on so many globally.
Our church has not been immune to the vast and varying effects of the pandemic which is still causing challenges across the world. We have had to make significant operational changes to meet the demands this has placed on our staff and resources. Many of the church’s activities have been delivered online during Covid-19, including weekend services, conferences, pastoral care, and community programs. In spite of the difficulties, our pastors and team have risen to the challenge and provided exceptional care in this season.
The interruption to activities along with the effects of Covid on our congregation have impacted the church’s operating revenue. We experienced a 12.3% drop in total revenue compared to 2020 resulting in a reduction of our surplus to $514,318 for 2021 (2020: $4,696,547).
In order to meet these challenges, we had to respond with a reduction in expenditure and will continue to rationalise costs as it may take several years to rebuild from the effects of the current season. The good news is that we have always operated from a basis of good fiscal management and went into this period debt free, coupled with strong savings.
We have a generous congregation which has supported the vision and work of our church strongly whether it is through the general offerings or the Hillsong Foundation. Despite the challenges being faced by all, we are thankful for your ongoing faithfulness especially toward the Hillsong Foundation which finances the welfare programs supported from our church.
This includes the work of Hillsong CityCare, One80TC, Vision Rescue, Hillsong Africa Foundation and A21. The majority of this offering finances the acquisition, fit out and improvements of facilities where we meet and host church programs. In 2021 we celebrated our first services in Macquarie Park, in Sydney, and Festival Hall in Melbourne.
Our church has also been going through a leadership transition and it has been one of the most difficult things our board has had to navigate. I am thankful to the men and woman of our board who serve our church in a voluntary capacity and do so steadfastly, faithfully and with great integrity.
At the end of January 2022, we welcomed our Interim Global Senior Pastors Phil and Lucinda Dooley. They have been leading us through a season of significant change. The congregation has embraced their leadership as they focus on the health and rebuilding of our church.
I would also like to thank our incredible staff and volunteers who have served so diligently. We cannot do all that our church is called to without these many devoted individuals. We are committed to the rebuild. We look to the future with great hope. There is no doubt that we have gone through significant challenges but are filled with expectations for all that the Lord has for us going forward.
Hillsong Church Australia’s Annual Report for 2021 is a testimony of the faithfulness of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and the work our church has done to make a difference in people’s lives. Please take the time to read the stories and be encouraged.
We just thought he was sleeping in after having vomited the day before, but when we couldn’t wake him, I knew something was very wrong. So, we carried him to the car, bundled our two other boys into the back seat, and drove to the GP. She took one look at our four-year-old and told us to go straight to emergency. It was like a scene from a movie. Hospital staff ran from all directions and wheeled Jacob into a small room where a team of people started working on him. His right lung had collapsed, and he had to be intubated.
An hour later, after a CT scan, the neurosurgeon took my husband and I aside. “Your son has a clot in his brain,” she said, handing us some paperwork to sign. “He needs emergency surgery.”
Raphael was just like any other newborn — but then I noticed some unusual behaviour. He didn’t make eye contact. Noises scared him. He didn’t respond when I called his name. I was worried, but family would say: “Virna, it’s okay — he’s a boy and boys are late developers.” But when Rapha turned five, he still wasn’t speaking.
Around the same time, I met and fell in love with an Australian-based, Indonesian man who asked me to marry him and move to Sydney. After the failure of my first marriage to Rapha’s dad, it was my dream to have a family and a papa for Rapha – but then everything started unravelling.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO
CITYCARE EMERGENCY FOOD RELIEF
Kilo of Kindness donations were used for the COVID-19 emergency food relief response.
I momentarily considered doing the ‘knock and run’ thing and hiding in the bushes to see their reaction, but instead I felt led to stay and talk and remind them God loves them. It was August of this year, when I dropped off small gifts to my neighbours after being inspired by the Love Thy Neighbour initiative promoted at church.
The campaign was all about showing kindness to people on our street who might be doing it tough. It was the last thing I felt like doing. Earlier in the day, I learned I didn’t get a job I had applied for and I was heartbroken, but God said: I want you to do this tonight!
After my dad lost his eyesight, I knew one thing for sure: I would do everything I could to make him proud. It was 2002 and dad was on his motorbike delivering mail — one of three jobs he worked to support our family — when he suddenly went blind. Doctors told him he had bilateral retinal detachment and there was no cure. The day after it happened, I walked into his bedroom. He was lying on the bed. His eyes were vacant. He said: “Son, I’m not sure what is going on, but you’ll need to be the man of the house from now on.” I was only 12. We both cried.