BRIAN HOUSTON, the co-founder of the Sydney-based Hillsong Pentecostal Church and now its global lead pastor, has resigned as he challenges a charge that he failed to report abuse allegations sexual abuse of children dating back to the 1970s (News, August 13, 2021).
The charge relates to allegations that her father, Frank Houston, a Pentecostal preacher who died in 2004, abused nine boys in Australia and New Zealand. The case is expected to go to court in Sydney in October.
In September last year Brian Houston stepped down from various Hillsong boards to focus on the prosecution, which he says he will “defend vigorously”. At the time, however, he continued as world senior pastor, overseeing the 131 Hillsong churches around the world.
In a statement released on Sunday, however, Houston said the church’s outside legal counsel had advised Hillsong Global’s board of directors that it would be “best practice” for him to completely step down from running the company. the Church during the legal proceedings. The World Board, he continued, “believes it is in my interest and in the interest of the church” that it step back from all ministry responsibilities until the end of this year.
He writes: “Along with this, the board and I had a detailed discussion about the leadership requirements. We talked about the effects of the situation with my father, which go back many years to the current court case, and the impact it had on me emotionally.
He must, he says, be “fully engaged in preparing for and engaging in the case” and working closely with his attorneys to defend the prosecution.
South Africa-based pastors Phil and Lucinda Dooley will serve as the acting world lead pastors.
The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which ran from 2013 to 2017, found that Brian Houston failed to report the abuse to the police after his father revealed it in 1999 The disclosure led to his father’s resignation from the Church, with an annuity.