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Former Hillsong Atlanta Pastor & His Wife Announce Divorce Over Accusations of Infidelity, Abuse

By Liz Lykins
sam toni collier
Pastor Sam Collier and his wife, Toni, of Story Church in Atlanta, Ga., pictured in a video from 2021, have announced on social media that they are getting divorced. (Video screengrab)

Former Hillsong Pastor Sam Collier and his wife, Toni, announced on social media last Friday that they are getting divorced. Sam alleged abuse in the marriage, while Toni accused Sam of infidelity.

Sam Collier currently pastors Story Church, which began as Hillsong Atlanta. However, amid growing allegations of sexual and financial misconduct regarding Hillsong, Hillsong Atlanta split from the global megachurch in 2022 and rebranded as Story Church.

The Roys Report (TRR) reached out to Story Church for comment about the allegations of infidelity against its pastor but did not hear back by press time.

The board of Story Church includes three people besides Collier. They are Rod Brown, lead pastor consultant with Irresistible Church Network, Michele Caplinger, senior executive director at The Recording Academy, and Cappriccieo Scates, a former music executive. 

Hillsong Atlanta
In June 2021, Pastor Sam Collier (left) and his wife, Toni Collier, celebrate the opening of Hillsong Atlanta with Pastor Brian Houston (right). (Source: Instagram)

When announcing their divorce Friday morning, Sam and Toni Collier released conflicting statements on Instagram just minutes apart.

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“I’m in the middle of the hardest season of my life,” Toni Collier announced in her social media post. “I am heartbroken, yet still hopeful. If you could see all the ways God has been kind to me and my kids your jaw would be on the floor. After years of discovering and enduring repeated acts of infidelity, I have chosen to end my marriage with Sam,”

She said that despite attempts at reconciliation and counseling, she had recently discovered additional infidelity from Sam.

“I realized this wasn’t a sustainable or God-honoring marriage anymore. I’m at a point where I have to say ‘no more.’ I’m taking time off the stage and social media to focus on healing with my kids,” Toni wrote. “I have no desire to hurt Sam but do want to vigorously protect my heart and my children.”

Toni added that she appreciates privacy and prayers as they navigate the divorce.

However, Sam fired back at his wife’s accusations with claims of his own. He called her a “liar and abuser,” in a separate post that has since been deleted.

sam collier hillsong atlanta
(Photo: Screengrab)

“Toni Collier is a liar and abuser,” Sam wrote in his post, according to a screenshot captured by The Christian Post.

“It is documented that she has abused me our entire marriage and wants to continue to. I asked Toni not to do this. As well as our team and ‘our’ lawyers. She is not divorcing me, we are divorcing each other. AND I tried to divorce her 7 times and she begged me to stay and kept abusing me. I will tell more of the story later.”

After that post was taken down, Sam took a different approach later the same morning.

Sam Collier Hillsong split
Pastor Sam Collier (Photo via Facebook)

“I would like to apologize for my earlier comments regarding my divorce,” he said in the new post’s caption. “It did not reflect the leader I am or my sincere feelings. I was emotionally overwhelmed and angry at the highest level. These past two months have been extremely exhausting.”

Sam included a statement with his post further reiterating his claim that the decision to divorce was mutual and not a result of infidelity.

 “After much prayer, contemplation, and seeking guidance, Toni and I have mutually decided to pursue a divorce. This has undoubtedly been a challenging journey for both of us,” he said. “Toni is the mother of our children, and I want to emphasize that I will not publicly slander her. It is important to respect the privacy and dignity of all parties involved, especially for the sake of our minor children and extended family.” 

Regarding the claim he had been unfaithful to Toni, Sam explained that the full truth will be revealed through the legal process.

“I categorically rebuke any unfair accusations and slanderous commentary made against me,” he said. “I want to make it clear once more that I do not wish for our personal challenges to become a public battle. It is my sincere hope that, in the best interest of our family, we can find a resolution that allows each of us to move forward positively with our lives — as we’ve both prayed for and deserve.”

This past weekend, Sam Collier did not preach at Story Church, according to a video of the church service posted on Facebook. Pastor Emanuel Lee Lambert, Jr., preached instead.

This story has been updated to include information about the board of Story Church.

Freelance journalist Liz Lykins writes for WORLD Magazine, Christianity Today, Ministry Watch, and other publications.

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5 Responses

  1. This behavior is not even worthy of high-schoolers. Seriously, Sam Collier is a minister of the Gospel???? I can’t even go there.

  2. I see that the church also has a Board of Advisors. One of these is JENNIFER WILLINGHAM, Founder and CEO of EPIC Public Relations Agency. I wonder if she is very busy working for the church and/or the Colliers right now?

  3. Drama, drama, drama. Can we just admit that these mega-church get-ups are, in fact, reality-show style celebrity stage shows? (Even the smaller ones in all of our towns.) May it all continue to implode from within as people realize there are better ways to find inner peace, serenity and happiness than sitting in dark, hazy auditoriums under self-absorbed narcissists. A walk on Sunday morning will do far more for general wholeness and well-being (and no tithe needed).

  4. So I suppose these 2 “pastors” will now step down as they no longer meet the Biblical pastoral qualification of “above reproach”, right? I think playing ice hockey in Hades is more likely.

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Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “The Atlas Factor: Shifting Leadership Onto the Shoulders of Jesus” by Lance Ford.