Hillsong's ARIA bid backed by big names

Hillsong Live will be one of the contenders at tomorrow’s ARIA awards, and the international hit-makers have some big name fans supporting them.

The Hillsong Live DVD God Is Able spent a week at number one on the Australian Recording Industry Association charts this year.

The group of singers for the Bella Vista-based church are busy preparing for a tour of the US next month but members will make themselves available for the awards.

The church and its singers have a large following all around the world but have struck a chord with Sydney’s Pacific Islander communities.

League stars Jarryd Hayne, Junior Sau and Wes Naiqama, and league-turned-Aussie Rules player Israel Folau, count themselves as devotees.

Eels’ star Hayne has spoken publicly about his devotion to the church, since he was introduced to it while representing Fiji at the World Cup four years ago.

After being dropped from the Blues team last year, Hayne said the church gave him the strength to accept criticism.

‘‘That’s something that if I didn’t have faith or the church I definitely would have struggled with,’’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘‘It’s pretty much a test. I felt that I handled it well, which I was happy about.’’

Greater Western Sydney player Folau also credits the church with giving him inspiration.

And the relationship between the church’s high-profile parishioners and its singers seems reciprocal.

Hillsong Live singer Jonathon Douglass recently re-Tweeted a Folau post on his own page.

‘‘Ephesians 1:11,12 It is in Christ we find out who we are and what we are living for,’’ the post reads.

Hillsong LIVE has received gold and platinum album status multiple times, its website says, was awarded the 2009 Dove for Worship Song of the Year and has reached the top of the charts in the USA and Canada.

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