The international worship band, Hillsong United, held three concerts in Israel during a tour of the Holy Land last month, enabling hundreds of local believers to attend worship services in Caesarea and the Galilee.
The performance of a globally-recognized worship band is an exceptional event in Israel where the Messianic community numbers about 15,000 and Christians comprise just 1 percent of the population. The concerts were a source of inspiration to many in the small community, to join together in worship with international groups.
Hillsong was founded in Australia in 1983 by Pastor Brian Houston and his wife Bobbie, who are still the leaders of the church and the global Hillsong movement.
As part of the group’s visit to Israel, the group performed at the Zemach Beach on the Sea of Galilee, Caesarea and the Old City of Jerusalem. The tour was in partnership between Hillsong and Keshet Journeys and between Sar-El Tours and Trinity Broadcasting Network. The performances in Zemach and Caesarea were filmed for TBN and also opened to a local audience.
“I listen to Hillsong’s music from the age of 12 and the performance was nostalgic and impressive,” 27-year-old Michael from Jerusalem told KNI.
Some 2,000 people attended the concert, including thousands of tourists on the Hillsong tour.
Nicole, 26, a tour guide who works for Sar-El Tours, attended the Caesarea performance.
“The tourists who participated in the performances enjoyed the experience of singing songs of praise in Israel. Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee and Caesarea are all places of biblical significance, and this was special for them,” she told KNI. “Because of my work as a tour guide I also met in Caesarea agents who were not connected to the Messianic or Christian faith who were enthusiastic about the lights and loud music and some of them even joined in the dancing.
“Personally, the songs of praise I knew were nice to connect with and to hear,” she continued. “But the rest of the event made me feel that I was in a rock performance that is a little like the other rock performances, not necessarily Messianic. ”
The Australian megachurch, which started with about 45 people, is currently the largest church in Australia and has branches around the world. In fact, the organization announced on its website that it is in the process of establishing a congregation in Tel Aviv.
Hillsong United was established in 1998 by members of the youth group in the Hillsong Australia congregation. The band has 10 members, including the pastor’s son, Joel Houston.
When Hillsong’s church worship leader Darlene Zschech decided to produce an album for the youth group with many original songs on it, the band was launched onto the global stage. Its debut album “ONE” was released in 1998. Its second album, “Everyday,” which was released a year later, attained gold status.
Since its establishment, the band has recorded four studio albums and 11 live performances. In 2014, the band won five Dove awards and in 2015 won the Billboard Top Christian Artist award.