Hillsong’s Brian Houston resigns amid scandals

MELBOURNE, Australia – Brian Houston, the founder of the Australian megacity of Hillsong, has resigned after an internal investigation found he had breached the church’s code of conduct at least twice in the past decade due to a breach of the church’s code of conduct. misbehaving with two women.

The resignation, the culmination of a series of scandals surrounding the church, was announced by Hillsong’s leadership in a statement released Wednesday that said, “We acknowledge that change is needed.” There was no immediate statement from Mr. Houston admitting his resignation.

Mr. Houston’s resignation comes after he left ministry duties in January, citing the need to fight criminal charges of concealing past child molestation by his father, Frank Houston, also a pastor.

Australian police charged younger Mr Houston in August 2021 with one count of concealing a serious, prosecuteable offence, alleging that he “knew of information relating to sexual abuse”. a young man in the 1970s and did not bring that information to the attention of the officer.”

Mr Houston has strongly denied the allegations, saying the allegations “come as a shock to me, and I intend to strongly defend them”.

His resignation comes as another potential blow to Hillsong, which grew after the merger of two institutions: the Sydney Christian Life Center founded by Houston’s father in 1977, and the Sydney Christian Life Center. Hills Christian Life was founded by Mr. Houston himself.

In recent decades, the church has become a multimillion-dollar business, standing at the forefront of Christian evangelism and youth culture. At its peak two years ago, it had congregations on six continents, as well as an average weekly attendance of 150,000, according to the church.

Its thousands of congregations include stars like Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, and Selena Gomez, as well as others, drawn to the church’s worship music, powered by a successful record label.

For decades, Mr Houston has been the face of Hillsong’s attraction, known as a friend of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and photographed with high-ranking officials and celebrities. More recently, the church has been the target of scandal and criticism, much of which has to do with its leadership.

A statement from Hillsong’s board released last week said Mr Houston, who is married, sent “inappropriate text messages” to an employee and spent time alone with another woman in her hotel room in Sydney, where she attended a ceremony in Hillsong. conference. The woman then filed a complaint, a church official said.

“The truth is we don’t know what happens next,” said Phil Dooley, Houston’s replacement pastor, in a video leaked to Australian media. “The woman did not report any sexual activity. Brian has said there was no sexual activity, but he was in the room for 40 minutes. “

In both cases, the church said, Houston paid the unnamed women an undisclosed amount: The employee received the equivalent of two months’ salary, and he compensated the woman. which he met in Sydney for the entrance fee. conference and for a donation she made to the church.

In the board’s statement on Wednesday, it said, “We are committed to doing what is necessary to ensure God is glorified, and our eyes fixed on Jesus.”

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