SYDNEY, Australia Darlene Zschech, the prominent voice of Hillsong Church who made the song, "Shout to the Lord," a worldwide worship anthem, is leaving the Sydney-based church after 25 years of service.
Zschech and her husband, Mark, will be serving as pastors of Church Unlimited at the beginning of the year.
"We are incredibly honored and very excited to be heading into this great opportunity to serve the people of the Central Coast and everyone at Church Unlimited," Mark Zschech said in a statement. "We are entering into what we believe will be a wonderful and fruitful season ahead.
"We really feel like God's called us to the central coast and to really have an impact there. And really, the two words that are on our hearts are to lead and to build. We're going to build a church for everybody."
The couple moves on with the blessing of their senior pastor Brian Houston, and his wife, Bobbie.
"Mark and Darlene have been an enormous blessing to Hillsong Church and they will move into this new role with the complete support of both the Hillsong Church eldership and Bobbie and I personally," the pastor said in a statement. "For 25 years the Zschech family have been an integral part of our church family and whilst they will be greatly missed, we feel as though this is a good and a timely step for them."
Although they will not be serving together in full-time ministry, the Hillsong pastors have invited the Zschechs to continue with Hillsong music projects and conferences.
"We pray great things for their future," Houston said. "We are excited about the future for both Church Unlimited and Hillsong Church and we thank God for the part we all get to play in the Body of Christ around the globe."
Darlene Zschech wrote "Shout to the Lord" in 1993 and, according to Wikipedia, it landed No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100 digital sales list because of strong downloads on iTunes. It has been recorded by Carman, Don Moen, Rich Mullins, Michael W. Smith, and John Tesh and was featured during the April 2008 broadcast of "Idol Gives Back," in which the remaining eight contestants of American Idol sang the song with the word shepherd replacing the name of Jesus.
Although the couple will continue to participate in global ministry, she in worship and he through missions and media, Mark said their heart is clearly at home.
"We have always been local church people," he said. "We feel that God has gone before us in every possible way, there are many miracle stories attached to this journey and we cannot quite believe what a perfect fit this is for both us and our family. We are filled with great hope and strong vision as we look forward to seeing God's purpose and plan outworked in this place and for these people. It is humbling and overwhelming to play a part in it."