Brian Holland is the founding pastor of Phoenix Community Church of Atlanta and owner of Phoenix Roasters. He graduated from Mercer’s Atlanta campus with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1989 before attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Here are five things to know about Holland:
1. His Mercer years were a time of growth.
Holland and 13 members of his family are Mercer graduates, including his mother, father, brother, wife and daughter. He attended Samford University for a few years before transferring to Mercer in Atlanta to finish his degree. The years at Mercer were a period of change for him.
“There is a lot that shaped me, but it was more on a personal spiritual level,” said Holland, who lives in Duluth.
It was during this time that he came to terms with trauma he had endured as a child, unbeknownst to his family, and became a Christian. With guidance from his adviser and his professors, he was able to overcome learning challenges and get on track. After implementing some specific study strategies and techniques, he found himself earning As and on the Dean’s List.
2. His business studies led him into ministry.
As Holland worked toward his business degree, he began to feel a calling to help young people who had experienced trauma like he had. He thought he might need to change his major and sought advice from his adviser.
“This one piece of counseling has shaped my life. He looked at me and said, ‘The church is full of religion majors. What ministry needs right now is a few good business majors. You can always go to seminary with a business degree, and who knows how God may use that.’”
After graduating with his business degree, Holland went to seminary and then served in youth ministry for nearly 20 years.
3. He ministers to the ‘phoenix people.’
In 2006, he started to feel pulled to a different focus.
“It had to do with my specific story of brokenness. I began praying about this group of people God gave me called the ‘phoenix people’ … people ready to rise out of the ashes,” Holland said.
He wanted to minister to the people who were broken and hurting, so he left his church and founded the Phoenix Community of Atlanta, which now has five campuses and an online presence. Holland is lead pastor of the Duluth location.
“We know that we’ve been called to do something special,” he said.
4. He owns a coffee business.
Phoenix Roasters was born in 2007 as Holland and the Phoenix Community team were searching for another way to minister to the community.
“We knew that coffee was a cup of community,” he said.
Phoenix Roasters has direct trade partnerships with farmers in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ethiopia and Laos and pays them 10 times more than fair trade wages for their crop. Holland said the farmers then pay their migrant workers more, which means parents are able to keep their children in school longer. Through these missionary partnerships, Phoenix Community has planted 100 churches throughout the world.
Phoenix Roasters sells its coffee online and wholesale to retailers, in addition to providing coffee catering for events. It has two patents on technology for nitro-infused coffee. Phoenix Community just released a book that details Holland’s personal story and the creation of the coffee business.
5. He wants to create a legacy and a movement.
Holland said it’s his goal to plant 20 Phoenix Community locations in Atlanta and to one day become what he called a “grand pastor,” a play on the word “grandparent.” His church established other churches, and he hopes to start a perpetual movement of “churches planting churches” and for that work to continue when he’s not there.
“From the coffee company, we want to continue to help as many coffee farmers as we can,” he said. “I’m not looking to sell our company and make a bunch of money. I love the fact of creating a legacy business that we can hopefully pass down from generation to generation and increase our impact on the farmers.”