THE co-founder of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston, has resigned as the Church’s Global Senior Pastor after an emergency Hillsong staff meeting on Wednesday. The Global Board has accepted his resignation.
In a statement released last week, Hillsong Church’s global board said that it had since apologised “unreservedly” to two women for separate incidents involving Mr Houston. The first concerned “inappropriate text messages” sent to a female employee about ten years ago; she had resigned, and been given a substantial compensation payment.
The second incident concerned his entry to a woman’s hotel room during a 2019 Hillsong conference. According to the current leader of Hillsong, Pastor Phil Dooley, Mr Houston had stayed in the woman’s room for 40 minutes.
The global board’s statement blamed the first indiscretion on Mr Houston’s use of anti-anxiety medication; the second, it said, followed “the consumption of anti-anxiety medication beyond the prescribed dose, mixed with alcohol”. Mr Dooley said that, after that complaint, Mr Houston had taken three months off, promising to abstain from alcohol during that period. “Unfortunately, he didn’t abide by that,” he said.
Mr Houston stepped down from his global leadership position in January to contest a charge that he failed to report child sexual abuse allegations concerning his father, Frank Houston, dating to the 1970s (News, 13 August 2021). The charge relates to allegations that his father, Frank Houston, a Pentecostal preacher who died in 2004, abused nine boys both in Australia and New Zealand. The case is expected to come to court in Sydney in October.
Mr Houston and his wife, Bobbie, founded the Hills Christian Life Centre in the Sydney suburb of Baulkham Hills in 1983. It later merged with the Sydney Christian Life Centre founded by his father in 1977, and, in time, became Hillsong Church with global reach.
Mr Houston is a close friend of the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who has described him as a key spiritual mentor. Mr Morrison is a Pentecostal believer, and has spoken at a Hillsong conference.
Mr Morrison, has distanced himself from Mr Houston, however. Mr Morrison said that he was shocked and disappointed by the news of Mr Houston’s resignation, but said that it was “entirely appropriate”. He continued: “My first thoughts were with the victims, as they’ve been rightly described, and so I was very concerned.”