Hillsong Church co-founder Brian Houston has resigned as global senior pastor of the church.
The board, which held a meeting today, found Houston breached the moral code of the church in his behaviour with two women.
“We understand there will be much emotion at this news, and we all share these feelings,” the Hillsong Global Board said in a statement released today.
“Irrespective of the circumstances around this, we can all agree that Brian and [his wife] 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.”
Allegations against the pastor came to light last week.
Mr Houston was accused of committing “indiscretions” towards two female church members.
“We have sadly been dealing with two complaints made against Pastor Brian over the last 10 years,” the church’s board said in a previous statement.
“We understand there will be much emotion at this news, and we all share these feelings,” the Hillsong Global Board said in a statement.
The church said that the first incident occurred around a decade ago and it involved “inappropriate text messages” sent by Houston to a staff member.
The staff member resigned as a result of the texts.
“At the time, Pastor Brian was under the influence of sleeping tablets, upon which he had developed a dependence,” the statement said.
The church apologised to the former staff member and said it “would welcome the opportunity to provide further assistance if this is needed.”
The second incident allegedly occurred at a Sydney hotel during the church’s annual Hillsong Conference in Homebush in 2019.
The complaint concerned Houston allegedly visiting a woman’s hotel room.
“Following an in-depth investigation, it was found that Pastor Brian became disoriented after a session at the Hillsong Conference, following the consumption of anti-anxiety medication beyond the prescribed dose, mixed with alcohol,” the statement said.
“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 found that Mr Houston “had breached the Hillsong Pastor’s Code of Conduct.”
“The board also met a request for a refund of money donated to the church by this person,” the church said.
“Pastor Brian was extremely remorseful and insisted on repaying the church for this.”
Shockwaves through Hillsong community
The allegations sent shockwaves through the Hillsong community. Houston and his wife Bobbie founded the church – first called the Hills Christian Life Centre – in Sydney’s Baulkham Hills in 1983.
“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,” today’s statement said.
“We ask that you continue to pray for them, and the entire Houston family, during this challenging time.”
The church acknowledged there is “still much to be done”.
The church acknowledged there is “still much to be done”.
“We acknowledge that change is needed,” the statement said. “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.”
Feature image: Brian Houston Facebook, pictured with wife Bobbie in February 2021
Update Wednesday 30 Mar 2022
Brian’s letter to the church: “A message from my heart”
Let me start with the words I want and need most to say — I am so deeply sorry.
To those impacted directly by my actions, I am sorry for the pain I have caused you.
To my wonderful, forgiving and gracious family who I love more than anything, I hate hurting you. Bobbie, in my eyes you are the most Christ-like, beautiful, loyal and faithful person alive today. It crushes me to see your heart breaking as we navigate this season, letting go of so much that is precious to you. I love my family and it pains me deeply to see you navigating these waters.
And of course, to every single wonderful person who has called Hillsong Church home, I have let you down so badly and sorry will never be enough to express my sorrow. As hollow as it may sound, I believe I am the person and pastor you believed me to be. Imperfect and flawed, but genuinely passionate about God, people, calling and life. I am determined that my mistakes will not define me.
This is not the way I imagined it to end. I believe the future is still bright for Hillsong Church, as you remain knit to Jesus, His Holy Spirit, His Word. Better days are coming as you continue to lean into His Kingdom on the earth.
And of course, first and foremost, to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for Your amazing grace and forgiveness. Thank you that when we “confess our sins, you are faithful and just to forgive them.” (1 John 1:9)
Thank you Father that “Your mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13.)
Over many years of constant pressure, opposition, challenges, and attacks, accompanied by my personal turmoil over my father’s evil, many people have asked – “How do you continue to get up, cope, and keep going?” And now we know the answer. I haven’t coped very well at all. I openly admit that alcohol has been no friend and I am determined to relegate it to my past.
Please be assured, I accept full responsibility for my actions and I have no one to blame but myself for the position I find myself in.
It may be some time before we see light at the end of this tunnel, but I know God has not finished with us yet. And what now you may ask? We are living day by day right now. Bobbie and I are unified and we are believing together that this year will be a year of respite and restoration to our souls, as I continue to prepare to fight for my innocence in the legal proceedings ahead of me.
I still have a sense of bright hope for the future and I know God is not finished with me yet. We have no intention of retiring. As Bobbie would say, “the final chapters of our lives are not yet written”.
We are grateful also to the many around the world, who have reached out to us, extending kindness and grace in this season.
Thank you for the immense honour of pastoring Hillsong Church these past 39 years. What a journey. What wonderful memories and joy. What powerful testimonies and stories of Christ’s transformation and grace. I still believe “the best is yet to come”… and our prayer for your health, well-being and God’s perfect Will in your life continues.