Hillsong founder Brian Houston resigns
Brian Houston is set to face a three-week court hearing to contest the charge against him. Photo: AAP
Brian Houston has resigned from the Hillsong Church amid allegations the global pastor mistreated two women and ahead of a trial over charges he hid his father’s alleged child abuse.
“We would like to advise you that Pastor Brian Houston has resigned as Global Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church and the board has accepted his resignation,” the global board said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We understand there will be much emotion at this news, and we all share these feelings.
“Irrespective of the circumstances around this, we can all agree that Brian and (his wife) Bobbie have served God faithfully over many decades and that their ministry has resulted in millions of people across the world being impacted by the power, grace, and love of Jesus Christ.”
The Houstons founded Hillsong in 1983 in Sydney’s western suburbs, with churches now in 30 countries and an average global attendance of 150,000 weekly, according to its website.
The resignation follows an apology issued by the church on Friday over allegations of Mr Houston’s conduct towards two women.
About 10 years ago, Mr Houston allegedly sent inappropriate text messages to a staff member, while under the influence of sleeping tablets that he had become dependent on. It ended with the employee resigning, according to the board.
The second incident was reported to the church in 2019.
According to the board, Mr Houston became disoriented following a Hillsong Conference and had consumed too much anti-anxiety medication mixed with alcohol when he knocked on the hotel room door and spent time with the female occupant.
An investigation launched by the global board found Mr Houston had breached the Hillsong Pastor’s Code of Conduct. On Friday it said: “This person did not deserve to be placed in the situation she found herself in.”
The woman was refunded money she had donated to the church.
Following that investigation, Mr Houston stepped down from Hillsong leadership. But according to the board he did not do all the agreed upon steps – which have not been detailed by the church – and he remained suspended, until Wednesday’s resignation.
Mr Houston is also before the courts in NSW, set to face a three-week special hearing in December on charges he hid his father’s alleged child abuse.
In January, Mr Houston stepped down from all ministry responsibilities for the rest of the year, releasing a statement saying he welcomed the opportunity to “set the record straight”.
The Hillsong global board on Wednesday said, “Change is needed”.
“We have committed to an independent review of our governance structure and processes, understanding that this is a time of humble reflection and we are committed to doing what is necessary to ensure God is honoured, and our eyes are fixed on Jesus,” it said.