Houston remains as Hillsong’s global senior pastor.
The email confirmed a report earlier this week by Crikey, an Australian electronic magazine. According to Crikey, Houston resigned as director of Hillsong Church Ltd, one of Hillsong’s original entities, on August 17. This was 12 days after being charged by police with concealing information about the sex abuse Houston’s father, Frank Houston, committed in the 1970s.
As of yesterday, Crikey said Houston had resigned from 18 of Hillsong’s 19 entities, which are registered as charities in Australia. At the time, Crikey also noted that Hillsong had made no public announcement regarding Houston’s resignation nor the reason for it.
However, in today’s email, Houston writes:
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I (stepped off the boards) so that these boards can function to their fullest capacity during this season. This doesn’t change my role as Global Senior Pastor. I thought it was important to let our church family know in the interests of transparency, and I wanted you to hear it from me directly.
On August 5, Sydney police served Houston’s lawyers with a notice for Houston to appear in a Sydney court on Oct. 5 for allegedly concealing a serious indictable offense. According to police, Houston “knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police.”
At the time, Houston, 67, said he was stunned by the charges.
“These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter,” Houston said. “I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.”
However, Crikey reports that the McClellen royal commission heard that Houston had become aware of his father’s crime in 1999 and had failed to pass the information to police at the time. “Houston has consistently asserted that he was respecting the victim’s wishes,” Crikey reports.
Houston, who’s reportedly a “friend and mentor to (Australian) Prime Minister Scott Morrison,” has sat on Hillsong’s boards for more than two decades. Over that time, Hillsong has grown into a global church with 150,000 members in 30 countries.
Since November 2020, however, Hillsong has been facing a steady stream of scandals. And just this week, 60 Minutes Australia announced on Facebook that it will be airing a report Sunday, revealing allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Hillsong from two young women.
The Roys Report reached out to Hillsong for a response to the 60 Minutes report but did not immediately hear back.
In November 2020, Carl Lentz, former pastor of Hillsong NYC, was fired and confessed that he was unfaithful in his marriage. Months later, Hillsong announced it was closing its Dallas, Texas, campus, following reports that the previous pastors there used donations to fund their lavish lifestyle. In April, a sex abuse victim lashed out at Brian Houston for revealing the private history of her abuse by a Hillsong leader. Soon afterwards, Darnell Barrett, a pastor for Hillsong East Coast, resigned after sharing revealing photos of himself on Instagram.