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Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

Australian Megachurch Pastor Corey Turner Admits Sexual Misconduct with Fellow Pastor

By Josh Shepherd
corey turner
Corey Turner preaches at Neuma Church in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. (Photo: Facebook)

Corey Turner, who recently resigned as lead pastor of a multi-national megachurch based in Australia, has broken his silence and stated that he engaged in “a morally inappropriate relationship” with fellow minister, Stacey Hilliar. 

On Thursday, Turner, formerly global senior pastor of Neuma Church based in Melbourne, posted a 400-word statement to social channels for his self-named ministry. 

“In a fog of deception that clouded my emotions and judgement, I sinned and compromised my relationship with God, my marriage covenant, my character, and my calling to ministry,” wrote Turner. “I have sinned against God, my family and the church and I am deeply sorry and repentant for my part in this and ask God and you for forgiveness.” 

Turner confirmed that he and his wife, Simone, have resigned from the multi-site megachurch, which church leaders first announced on Feb. 4 as previously reported by The Roys Report (TRR). A charismatic megachurch seemingly modeled after Hillsong, Neuma Church has nine locations in Australia, as well as campuses in Bangkok, Thailand, and San Francisco. 

Initially, the board of Neuma Church cited the Turners’ “health and wellbeing” as the reason for the couple’s abrupt resignation. Five days later, a church statement clarified that “an inappropriate relationship” between Corey Turner and Hilliar, an executive leader at the church, had precipitated both resignations. 

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neuma church global inappropriate
Neuma Church in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. (Photo: Google Maps)

In his statement, Turner cited “fatigue” as a reason for his moral failure. “I didn’t sufficiently guard my heart, reach out for help from trusted spiritual fathers, take decisive action or get the necessary rest I needed from the compounding levels of fatigue in my own soul,” he wrote. 

Stating that his wife and children have “faithfully stood beside” him, Corey Turner added that he and Simone are receiving support and direction from “seasoned and competent spiritual leaders.” He wrote: “Simone was innocent, I am not, yet we are committed to moving forward together into the fulness of God’s restorative plan for our marriage.” 

Turner also alludes a half-dozen times to a process of “restoration,” including references to a “next chapter” and “moving forward.” He concludes: “. . . (W)e are filled with hope knowing that the restorative grace we have preached to others is available to us also.” 

TRR reached out to Hilliar and Neuma Church for comment but did not receive any response.

Responses to the post

In comments on his Instagram post, followers of Turner, including several fellow charismatic ministers, largely praised the former pastor.

Church planter Dave Gilpin wrote, “Corey, thanks for blazing a trail. No one has credentials to judge, and if we do, it’s our own judgement for not praying for you more. Life is complex, ministry is like mountain climbing, our adversary is vigilant and our own strength is weak.” 

Entrepreneur Alana Kenndy wrote, “No judgement Corey! We have all sinned and fallen short! You are a Man of honour and your wife a Queen for her forgiveness.” 

Evangelist Tim Hall, Epic Church Senior Pastor Steve Penny, itinerant minister Jean-Luc Trachsel, and prophetic school director Ally Cawthorn wrote similar comments in support. 

Corey Turner preaches at Neuma Church in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. (Photo: Instagram)

However, when church watchdog account Hillsong Accountability re-posted Turner’s statement, it generated a range of responses. 

Australian jazz artist Simone Waddell objected to the language about ‘fatigue’ in the statement. “‘Oops I was so exhausted I had an ongoing adulterous affair,’” she wrote. “I hope he’s not re-platformed.” 

Another commenter, Jasmine Bee, wrote, “Given his position, a public apology is appropriate. The gushing comments that followed are not. The focus should be on protecting the spouses and children who have been hurt by this scandal.” 

A user named John said, “It’s a lot of christianese to say yeah I messed up.” 

Suspended credentials and unanswered questions

In the wake of the scandal, the board of Neuma Church announced that Raef Soliman, formerly listed on the church website as “Apostolic Pillar,” is serving as interim senior pastor.

A search for another senior pastor is underway, the board later announced. In the past week, the church’s website has removed a page listing its executive leaders (an archived version from Feb. 20 is available.)

The board also stated that it would not pursue an investigation of the scandal involving Turner. Rather, the statement on Feb. 9 noted that “the matter is now in the hands” of the church’s overseeing denomination, Australian Christian Churches (ACC). 

wayne alcorn ACC
ACC President Wayne Alcorn (Courtesy image)

A week later, on Feb. 15, Wayne Alcorn, president of the ACC, announced that the ministerial credentials of Turner and Hilliar had been “suspended.” Alcorn added that: “The matter is now being considered by our National Executive in accordance with our processes.” 

TRR contacted the ACC regarding the status and specifics of the investigation into Turner and Hilliar but did not receive a response.

Echoing language used by Turner and the church, Alcorn’s statement referred to the misconduct between Turner and Hilliar as an “inappropriate relationship”—a term some experts would dispute. 

Leading abuse survivor advocacy law firm BozLaw defines it as adult clergy sexual abuse “when a religious leader engages in sexual contact (hands on OR hands off) with an adult congregant or any vulnerable person.” 

In a statement to TRR, Jimmy Hinton, an author who trains church leaders in abuse prevention, urged Neuma Church to hire an outside firm with expertise to conduct an independent investigation. 

Hinton also said leaders’ statements inevitably have left church members with several questions. 

Referring to the scandal surrounding Turner’s departure as pastor, Hinton wrote: “I can almost guarantee that church members are, at a minimum, wondering:

  1. What constitutes an ‘inappropriate relationship’?
  2. Were leaders aware of this?
  3. If they were aware, how long were they aware?
  4. Are there more ‘inappropriate relationships’ than just the one? And
  5. What measures have been put in place to ensure members are protected and that this won’t happen again?” 
     

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his family live in the Washington, D.C. area.

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22 Responses

  1. Number of specific harms mentioned in former Global Senior Pastor Corey Tuner’s “apology”: zero.

  2. And he’s wearing a shirt with pedo swirls on it. Smells like another cabal fake Christian to me. God is removing the tares (devil’s children) from amongst the wheat (His children).

    1. “Pedo swirls”? Seriously?! That’s quite the leap. I’m more inclined to think: Australian Indigenous Aboriginal design.

    2. Yes, as an Australian I concur- overtly advertising a paedophile Freemason symbol.
      Tares will be taken and burnt leaving the wheat.
      (Aboriginal art does not feature on men’s shirts here, and I have not seen this motif prominent in indigenous art.

  3. Sadly this is happening more and more and I fear the lack of transparency with the church body will lead to more issues and potentially lead to both going back into ministry which should not happen.
    The western church has become too much like the world to draw in more people with flashing lights, dark spaces and concert like atmosphere rather than focusing on the gospel, sin, repentance and truth telling.

  4. yawn……………. 1. yet ANOTHER “Holiness” pastor, caught with his “pants down” (“fatigue” WILL do that, you know…)….. 2. his ADULTERY/FORNICATION is called ANYTHING BUT, by all concerned…. 3…the man and the wifey are “looking forward”, to 4. “BACK-IN” status, granted within a year, two at most….. 5. nothing to see here…..move on…….

  5. People make mistakes. It’s a part of life. Should we hold pastors much more accountable? Absolutely. Here’s what drives me nutz. WHAT DOES “REST” HAVE TO DO WITH SLEEPING WITH A WOMAN WHO HAPPENS TO NOT BE YOUR WIFE? These statements, my goodness. Written by PR characters posing as church do-gooders. God help us, everyone…and Lord forgive me, a sinner.

    1. A “mistake” is putting salt in your coffee instead of sugar or forgetting to put a postage stamp on a letter.

      Sin, especially ongoing sin and ESPECIALLY sexual sin (which appears to be the worst sin, if we read Paul’s letters) is an intentional and deliberate choice to put self first, before God and before others: Romans 13:8-10 & 1st John chapters 3 thru 5 (and ALL of Jesus’s life and words!)
      It begins in the heart, as Jesus makes ABUNDANTLY clear in Matthew chapter 5 & 12:33-35 and 15:19-20.

      Plenty of atheists and NON Christians manage to be faithful.
      To imply that the Holy Spirit indwelling (the definition of a Christian: Romans 8:9, 2 Corinthians 13:5) makes someone WORSE than the the lost world is nigh on blasphemy.
      Read 1st John. Someone continuing in sin is NOT saved!

      And NOWHERE in the entire New Testament (even in the Old eg. Psalm 1!) are believers referred to as “sinners”. We are though referred to as “saints” over 70 times.
      Read 1 Peter 4:18! Read Scripture!

  6. A quick glance at Stacey Hilliar’s website and all I see are the words “buy”, “buy”, “buy” and dollar signs $$$.

    She also mentions “leadership” in the “my story” section (anyone listened to this week’s podcast referencing that word?!).

    Oh and there’s also a soft-focus photo of her family (four kids: it’s kids who suffer the most from these scandals) and a completely over-the-top glowing review from Corey Turner, who calls her a “world-class person”, “a conduit of God’s presence” etc.

    A wise man once said that where greed, self-promotion and VANITY is, there you will have sexual sin because sin (especially uncontrolled desire) is idolatry of SELF: as Romans 13:8-10 implies.

    I’m not calling Turner and Hilliard greedy etc.
    You can decide that for yourselves.
    I just hope we never hear from them in public ministry speaking for God ever again.

  7. It doesn’t seem to occur to people that mega church culture breeds bad behavior. Pastors with celebrity status aren’t held to biblical standards. A smaller, more intimate group provides greater scrutiny, smaller staff, fewer “meetings,” less money, and less power.

    Yes, small churches have scandals; but the “mistakes” seem to happen far more often in mega churches and out of proportion to their number. They also provide a much larger pool of victims.

    The squishy “we’re all sinners, so don’t judge” theology certainly doesn’t act as a deterrent or a cleanser.

    One day, persecution will put an end to this nonsense.

  8. He cites fatigue as a reason for his “moral failure.” Evidently he wasn’t tired enough to keep him from pursuing this “inappropriate relationship.” Are we to believe that next time a nap will keep him from abusing his power?

    1. I understand your skepticism, but in fact fatigue can be a contributing factor in a pastor’s poor judgment, along with diet, isolation, and lack of consistent spiritual disciplines. This, of course, assumes that the pastor is not a predator, in which case, it has nothing to do with fatigue or anything else, but rather a malformed character which acts in completely intentional ways to get what it wants.

      1. His statement is really vague but, if he’s alluding to a relationship(or relationships) with a (or multiple) congregant, he is by definition a predator. And yes, of course Jesus loves him, he has no place as a pastor.

  9. Fatigue caused him to commit adultery?!
    Biblical forgiveness and restoration yes, return to a leadership position, never.

    James 1:13-15
    Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

  10. The reason for the sin (fatigue) and the response to the pastor (you’re a great guy…no one can judge you,,,all have sinned) is very, very concerning to me.

    And the immediate the “restoration”, “moving forward” and the “next chapter” talk is also very concerning.

    To me it seems that this is not taken seriously. It seems to be treated by some as “Opps…you made a mistake ….that all. Let’s move on.”

    I truly hope he gets the real deep help he needs and that it is not superficial.

  11. The greatest King of Israel engaged in inappropriate behaviour so lets be gracious and understanding and continue to love and support.

    1. Jesus came and established the NEW Covenant. The standard is HIGHER (read the Sermon on the Mount!) because the Holy Spirit indwells true believers (John 14:16-17, Romans 8:9 etc) which wasn’t possible until the Resurrected Jesus was glorified (John 7:39, chapters 14 & 16).

      We are not called to imitate ANYONE else now apart from Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).
      Jesus said “follow me”. To “follow” in the context means to IMITATE, which is why Jesus is referred to as the “FORERUNNER” in Hebrews 6:20.

      Why mention pre-Christ Biblical figues like Moses and David as reference points on CHRISTIAN forums??

    2. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but, with that logic, any behavior would be excusable. He could murder after all, David murdered. And we would be called to be gracious, understanding and supportive? after all, the pastor is a great man like David.

    3. Sandra, perhaps your remark is sarcastic?

      If not, David was king and leader of the army, not a priest in the temple nor in any other recognized spiritual leadership over Isreal. You can’t compare him to a man who is ordained to lead God’s people in spiritual matters.

      That aside, God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David, which shows the Almighty was not “understanding” at all. David paid dearly for his sin including the death of his child with Bathsheba, rape of his daughter by son Amnon, murder of Amnon by Absalom, his concubines sexually violated by Absalom in front of all of Israel, Absalom killed. David sinned and his whole family reaped death and sexual violation.

      No,, God was neither gracious nor understanding of David’s sexual sin.

    4. Yea… you know, look how that turned out for David, he was on the run for the rest of his life. For “sword shall never depart from your house; and even I shall raise up evil from your own your house (sons)”. (2 Sam 12). Read the book of psalms for glimpse of his life-long plagues and woes as a result.

      The crux of the story of David, as were most OT characters was to foreshadow Christ. David pointed to Yeshua, the ultimate king. BUT, since NO man is perfect, David had to “err” somehow. This is to show us that, ONE who is perfect is coming. HIM shall we imitate.

      YHVH redeemed David’s son (Solomon) with Bathsheba who ended up being one of the Matriarchs of the Messiah (Christ). This was foreshadowing the redemption story of Christ with the gentiles and heathens; who will now be grafted into the house hold of Israel.

      I wish Christians would cease and desist from using biblical characters as excuse or point of personal references. As if scripture was written with your and your vain life in mind. Silly humans. Scripture was, is, and will always be about Yeshua. To HIM be glory thru the ages, world without end. Amen.

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