Hillsong founder Brian Houston resigns after finding of inappropriate conduct towards women

Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston

Originally published in Eternity News

Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston has resigned as global senior pastor of the church following a finding that he had breached the church’s code of conduct for pastors in two instances of inappropriate conduct towards women.

The move was announced in a letter to church members released by the Hillsong global and Australian board today.

- Advertisement -

“We would like to advise you that Pastor Brian Houston has resigned as Global Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church and the board has accepted his resignation,” the email reads.

“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.”

“We acknowledge that change is needed.” – Hillsong Australian and global board

The email acknowledged that there was still much to be done by the church leadership, which continues to seek God’s wisdom as they 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.”

On Sunday, Hillsong’s interim Global Senior Pastor Phil Dooley, who is based in Cape Town, issued an emotional apology to the two women who had made complaints against Houston over the past 10 years.

This followed an email sent to Hillsong Church members on March 18 by the church’s global board, which detailed the two complaints of inappropriate conduct against Houston.

Houston had entered the hotel room of an unidentified woman for 40 minutes while “disoriented” after mixing alcohol with a higher-than-prescribed dose of anti-anxiety medication during the church’s annual conference in 2019.

It remains unclear if Houston and the woman had sex. Houston doesn’t recall having sex, and the woman has not said if they had sex.

The earlier incident involved an “inappropriate text message” Houston sent to a staff member in 2013, which Dooley said was “along the lines of, If I was with you I would like to give you a kiss and a cuddle or a hug.” The woman resigned soon afterwards and Houston personally paid her the equivalent of two months’ salary.

Hillsong Church blamed Houston’s actions in this case on “sleeping tablets” on which he had developed a dependency that the church helped him recover from.

“We as a leadership of Hillsong Church have repentant hearts in this season. I want to say we are sorry for anyone who has been a victim of any form of harassment,” Dooley told the church on Sunday.

Dooley took over the interim role from Houston in January after Houston stepped down from ministry duties to fight criminal charges of allegedly concealing sex abuse committed by his father, Frank Houston, in the 1970s.

In an email released last Friday, Hillsong’s global board assured church members that the “investigations into these complaints were treated extremely seriously”; that it worked “closely with Pastor Brian to ensure he received professional help to eliminate his dependency on this medication”; and it apologised “unreservedly to the people affected by Pastor Brian’s actions and commit[s] to being available for any further assistance we can provide.”

It said Houston had apologised immediately to the staff member he texted in 2013, and that its investigation of the 2019 incident found that “important elements of the complaint were sustained and the conduct was of serious concern”.

“We also acknowledge that this person did not deserve to be placed in the situation she found herself in by Pastor Brian,” the statement read, adding: “Ultimately, the board found that Brian had breached the Hillsong Pastor’s Code of Conduct.”

“Pastor Brian was extremely remorseful,” the board said.

UPDATE — FAMILY STANDS BY HOUSTON

Bobbie and Brian Houston

The wife of Brian Houston has said she will “forever” stand by her husband after his resignation this week as Hillsong Global Senior Pastor, reports Christian Today

His wife of 45 years, Bobbie Houston, said in a post on social media it had been “a very cruel week” but vowed to stand by her husband.

“Thank you for lovely comments and love. It’s seen. And felt. And appreciated,” she said on Instagram. 

“I’m okay. It’s been a very cruel week – but I will forever stand alongside the man I have loved and walked with for 45 years.

“I know his nature and character and integrity more than ANYONE.”

Their daughter, Laura Toggs, has also opened up about her heartache on social media.

She has used Instagram to speak of her “battered heart” and “anguish, humiliation and crushing pain”, but she also expressed her love for both her mum and dad. 

“I choose to text my beloved dad ‘I love you’ a thousand times again – and I choose my bravest of brave mum,” she said. 

“When you have a platform, people grow from your suffering, because with a platform, you suffer out loud. When you grieve, you grieve in front of everybody.

“When you hurt, you hurt in front of everybody. And there is no place to hide… and everyone inspects your wounds.

“When you LOVE much, you grieve much, and there is no simple way around it.

“If we can be constantly humiliated publicly, then I am tempted to express my crushing pain publicly.”

She added that she was turning to Jesus in the storm. 

“But today, yet again, I choose to lay my deep anguish at the feet of Jesus…and I choose coffee,” she wrote.

“And as exhausting as it may be, I choose once again to take a higher road and keep my heart with utmost gentleness and humility and grace.”

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay up to date with God stories of Africa and beyond

DONATE — Click on the link to donate and help us to keep on publishing uplifting news that glorifies God and strengthens His people. Thank you for your support.

COMMENTING GUIDELINES
You are welcome to engage with our articles by making comments [in the Comments area below] that add value to a topic or to engage in thoughtful, constructive discussion with fellow readers. Comments that contain vulgar language will be removed. Hostile, demeaning, disrespectful, propagandistic comments may also be moved. This is a Christian website and if you wish to vent against Christian beliefs you have probably come to the wrong place and your comments may be removed. Ongoing debates and repetitiveness will not be tolerated. You will also disqualify yourself from commenting if you engage in trolling.

7 Comments

  1. Dooley and the Church board must read Galatians 6: 1
    They must not be opportunists in this matter. Many have been eyeing this opportunity and it came at an expense of Ps Brian weakness.
    Let’s wait and see how they will deal with this matter, whether they will really pray for him and believe God for His intervention or they’ll parade how good they are and how bad he has been. Dooley was too quick to make a public comment… ofcourse it will work for him.

  2. Jerry Rabambukwa

    Guys this are old issues we can lose a man of God because of temptation ,he should repent and move forward with the gospel ,Jesus said he who doesn’t sin let him the first to cast stones .

  3. I wonder if it is sleeping tablets or is that a new name for coke, clearly there’s more that needs to be uncovered here, why also an SMS incidence of 2013 is suffacing now. There’s a lot of shinanigans these charismatic ministers do behing the curtain, behind the pulpit.

  4. Mluleki Mafuna

    I want to wish him a speed recovery from this unfortunate situation. I pray that during his time of being sit down he may reflect into his life and focus to his family to build trust again.

    He is I deed an honourable man. May God be gracious to this man of God and restore him very soon. Be strong man of God

    Regards
    Mlu

  5. There, but for the grace of God, go I, go all of us. This is not a typically ‘charismatic’ issue, Anonymous. Many of all branches of the Church have fallen. Many have been restored, though to more humble ‘positions’ (which is appropriate). The common denominator is usually Power and Popularity. These pave the way to yielding to temptation. Let all of us learn – and beware.

  6. Letty Mtshweni

    Why must he resign from the church. Has the blood of Jesus expired maybe. Where is GRACE. Hillsong read your bibles.

  7. “Amazing Grace”
    …I can think of nothing else