Hillsong Church co-founder Brian Houston resigns over inappropriate behavior

Brian Houstonthe co-founder of Hillsong Churchwhich operates an international Pentecostal network, has resigned as global senior pastor, the Australia-based church announced Wednesday.

The move comes five days after that board acknowledged “two complaints made against Pastor Brian over the last 10 years” involving inappropriate contact with two women in the church. One was a staff member who resigned after untoward text messages from Mr. Houston; the other involved a 2019 complaint of the pastor entering the hotel room of a female occupant and “spending time” there.

Both instances were attributed to substance abuse — the first involving sleeping tablets, the second “the consumption of anti-anxiety medication beyond the prescribed dose, mixed with alcohol,” Hillsong‘s leaders said.

Mr. Houston and his wife, Bobbie, had been joint leaders of the suburban Sydney church that grew into a world-circling network of congregations since its founding in 1983. Millions around the world use the church’s worship songs, including “Shout to the Lord ” and “Oceans” in weekly services.

His resignation comes on the heels of a 2021 indictment of Mr. Houston on charges of concealing alleged sexual abuse committed more than 40 years earlier by his late father, Frank Houston, an Assemblies of God pastor.

In October 2021, police in Australia’s New South Wales state charged Mr. Houston with concealing child sexual abuse allegedly committed by his father during the 1970s. Frank Houston died in 2004.

The New South Wales Police charged that Mr. Houston had known of his father’s actions in 1999 but “without reasonable excuse, failed to bring that information to the attention of NSW Police,” a complaint states.

Mr. Houston, 68, had been the national president of the Australian component of the US-based Assemblies of God from 1997 to 2009. Before separating from the denomination in 2018, Hillsong was a member of that Australian organization, known as the Australian Christian Churches.

Hillsong is known as much for its use and production of contemporary Christian music worship songs as for the many celebrities who have worshipped at its services, including Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger.

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