The Hillsong United band led the 45th Annual Gospel Music of America (GMA) Dove Awards with five wins. The GMA Dove Awards featured top artists from many different genres of Gospel and Christian music and is Gospel music’s biggest night of the year. Hillsong United is a band that started as a part of the infamous Hillsong Church. The band not only performs at Hillsong churches around the world, but at general concert venues as well.
Hillsong Church is affiliated with Australian Christian Churches and is a Pentecostal mega church. The church was founded in 1983 when Sydney Christian Life Centre at Waterloo merged with Hills Christian Life Centre in Baulkham Hills. The band was initially formed by friends who were part of Hillsong’s youth ministry called Powerhouse Youth, which for many years was under the leadership of youth pastors Phil and Lucinda Dooley.
Hillsong has a racially diverse crowd of people who flood their services in jeans and tees. They are known to wear backwards baseball caps or even sunglasses while extending their hands in worship supporting the “come as you are” culture Hillsong is known for. Pastor Brian Houston said:
We make it about Jesus, about the grace of God, and we try to have a net so it’s broad, not narrow. We believe a basic charismatic/Pentecostal theology, but we don’t build strong on theology.
Hillsong is a brand that is quickly spreading across the globe despite dealing with an abuse scandal. The church has combined charismatic energy and Christian rock to create a winning combination. Hillsong has locations around the world in places such as New York, Stockholm, London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Barcelona. The New York location has even attracted celebrities like Kevin Durant and the troubled Justin Bieber.
The celebrated worship band scored five wins on Tuesday night including Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Contemporary Christian Performance of the Year with their hit song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail). Hillsong United also took home trophies for Worship Song of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year with Oceans, which for more than 50 weeks topped Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart. Creative pastor JD accepted the awards on behalf of the band by saying:
We believe the local church is going to be the salvation to the rest of the world. Keep the church strong. Through the sacrifices of many… on behalf of the thousands of volunteers, over the past 30 years I have been honored to be a part of this.
The 2014 Dove Awards were held in Nashville, Tennessee on October 7 at Lipscomb University but did not air until Sunday, October 12 on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Each year a spotlight is shown on leading artists in the Gospel music industry during a ceremony which is always star-studded. According to Jackie Patillo, GMA director and president:
The Dove Awards stage represents all genres of gospel music on one stage. The unity and diversity that we experience when our artists and industry come together is awesome to me. It’s what heaven is going to look like. I think it makes God smile, as we fulfill the desire of His heart and unite as one and adore Him.
Patillo said each year the event promises to be a ceremony that will delight the Lord by providing a platform designed to give believers hope during a music-filled and entertaining evening. She added:
Everyone needs hope and music is a universal language. Our artists are filling airwaves, churches, conferences and arenas with great music that holds a sacred message. The power of God’s Word is a spiritual law. It is alive and heals and restores. It is not just entertainment; it is all that and more. We all need a lifeline and God’s love for us draws those who He is calling.
The 45th Annual GMA Dove Awards was a hit among viewers as confirmed by its hefty presence on social media. The ceremony included a host of performers as well as presenters such as, but not limited to Mandisa, Sandi Patty, Erica Campbell, Pat Boone, and Danny Gokey. The Hillsong United band reigned in awards while sharing the honors with other top winners such as Switchfoot and Skillet.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)