Brian Houston has resigned as Hillsong Global Senior Pastor after an internal investigation found he acted inappropriately toward two women.
Houston had been on a leave of absence, awaiting trial for charges he failed to report his father’s sexual assault of children. Last week, Hillsong revealed that Houston had allegedly spent time alone in a hotel with a woman not his wife, and had sent flirtatious texts to a Hillsong staffer.
In a letter posted to its website Wednesday, Hillsong announced that Houston had resigned and the board had accepted his resignation.
The letter from the Hillsong Global and Australian Boards stated:
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.
Hillsong Church was birthed out of Brian and Bobbie’s obedience and commitment to the call of God and we are extremely grateful for all that Brian and Bobbie have given to build His house. We ask that you continue to pray for them, and the entire Houston family, during this challenging time.
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. 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.
According to ABC News, the acting head of Hillsong, Pastor Phil Dooley, announced Houston’s resignation at an all-staff meeting today and read the board’s statement to staff.
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Last week, Hillsong’s board disclosed that Houston had spent time alone in a hotel room with a woman during Hillsong’s annual conference in New South Wales in 2019. The statement came as the story was breaking in the Australian press.
The church said Houston had been “drinking with a group” and also was on anti-anxiety medication at the time.
At a meeting with 800 Hillsong staffers on Friday, Pastor Dooley said, “The truth is we don’t know what happened next.” ABC reported. “The woman has not said there was any sexual activity. Brian has said there was no sexual activity, but he was in the room for 40 minutes.”
Dooley also revealed that Houston had sent a text saying something to the effect of, “‘If I was with you, I’d like to kiss and cuddle you,’ words of that nature.”
The board’s statement said Houston was also under the influence of sleeping medication at the time he sent the inappropriate texts, “upon which he had developed a dependence.” The text messages ultimately led to the staff member resigning, according to the statement, and Houston then apologized to the staff member.
The board’s statement also disclosed that the agreed to pay the woman a sum of money “in order to bring resolution in a spirit of love and care,” and to “abide by her request for confidentiality.” The statement said Houston repaid the money to the church.
Hillsong, a Pentecostal powerhouse was founded by Houston and his wife, Bobbie, in 1983. The church, which draws a reported 150,000 to services in 30 locations, has also produced some of the most popular worship songs used in evangelical churches around the world, including “Oceans,” “What a Beautiful Name,” and “Shout to the Lord.”
The board concluded its statement on Houston’s resignation by saying it valued people’s “ongoing support and prayers. We are also praying for our entire church family at this time.”