A Man with a Plan, Bishop I.V. Hilliard

By Teresa Hairston

“Our ministries don\’t exist for our comfort. They are to serve others—the people in the community that are hurting and without—we\’re there to serve them.”

Without question, Bishop Ira Van Hilliard is one of today\’s most influential Christian voices and one of the nation\’s most accomplished pastors and leaders. As the saying goes, “Everything is bigger in Texas,” and Hilliard\’s Houston-based ministry is a prime example—with six Texas locations (four in Houston and one each in Austin and Beaumont) that serve over 30,000 members; he is a force in the Kingdom.

Hilliard\’s ministry has become the “poster child” for success among many pastors and leaders. He is known for operating in excellence, although some may say “in excess”; but he\’s quick to point to his private jet, multiple vehicles and luxurious lifestyle as “the maximized life” rather than “a life of extravagance.”

Indeed, his adherents, and there are many, are devoted to his teachings. His pastor\’s organization—Association of Independent Ministries [A.I.M.], attracts upwards of 7,000 attendees to its annual conference, which is widely known for providing a wealth of information that supports church growth.

Hilliard\’s ministry is also a family affair. His wife, Lady Bridget, hosts a phenomenal women\’s conference. “She is my partner in life and ministry,” says Bishop Hilliard. “We\’ve been married 35 years. She brings perspective that I don\’t have, and together we have the power of agreement. I grew up in a tradition that suppressed women and didn\’t allow women pastors. In the home, I\’m the head, but I understand that in the church there is neither male or female.”

The Hilliard\’s three daughters are also active in various aspects of the ministry; with one (Pastor Irishea Lewis) at the helm of the ministry\’s West Houston location. “Irishea started as the head of our teen ministry,” Bishop Hilliard explained, “now, her annual youth conference draws about 8000 attendees, and she is the on-site pastor at the West Location. She\’s the heir apparent who will take the reigns of the ministry when I rearrange my schedule.” (He says he\’ll never retire!)

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