Hillsong Church's board says that it has accepted the resignation of its co-founder and Global Senior Pastor, Brian Houston. The resignation comes not even one week after the church released a statement saying it had been investigating complaints made by two women against Houston and inappropriate behaviour.
The church's board says in a statement shared on its website on Wednesday, March 23, that "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 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."
In the statement posted last week, the church said that the complaints brought against Houston included an incident involving inappropriate text messages a decade ago. The church says that Houston sent messages to a staff member, and as a result of the inappropriate messages the staff member resigned. The church board blames the incident on sleeping pills, upon which he had developed a dependence." Houston "immediately" apologized to the person and received treatment to eliminate his dependency on the medication, according to the statement.
The second incident occurred in 2019. The statement says that Houston "became disoriented after a session at the Hillsong Conference, following the consumption of anti-anxiety medication beyond the prescribed dose, mixed with alcohol. This resulted in him knocking on the door of a hotel room that was not his, entering this room and spending time with the female occupant." The church says that an investigation found that the pastor had breached its Pastor's Code of Conduct.
News of the investigations flooded the Australian press last week.
"As you can appreciate, there is still much to be done and our church leadership continues seeking God for His wisdom as we set the course for the future," the church says in Wednesday's announcement. "We acknowledge that 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."
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The church has dealt with a number of high-profile issues lately, including both Houston as well as other pastors.
In November of 2020 Carl Lentz, the well-known celebrity pastor of Hillsong's New York City church in the USA, was fired over allegations of an affair. Later, on the same day his firing was announced, Lentz admitted to having an affair.
Houston had already been on leave from the church after being charged in January by Australian police for allegedly concealing allegations of child sexual abuse made against his father. At the time he said he was shocked by the charges as he felt he was transparent with authorities as they investigated the matter. The allegations were made by a man who said Frank Houston abused him as a boy over several years in the 1970s. Houston has a court date set for Oct. 5 in relation to the matter.
"We value your ongoing support and prayers. We are also praying for our entire church family at this time," the church says in the closing statement.