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Megachurch founder resigns in disgrace

Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston

Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston

Brian Houston, the founder of Australian megachurch Hillsong, has resigned from his role as global senior pastor amid allegations of misconduct towards two women.

He was replaced by Phil Dooley.

"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 church said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We acknowledge that change is needed. We have committed to an independent review of our governance structure and processes,” it continued.

Hillsong on Friday issued its first statement on the matter, saying the founder had “breached” the church’s “Pastor’s Code of Conduct” following an investigation into harassment complaints from two women.

The first incident occurred “approximately a decade ago” according to the church and “involved “inappropriate text messages from Pastor Brian to a member of staff, which subsequently resulted in the staff member resigning.”

Hillsong claimed that at the time of the incident Houston was “under the influence of sleeping tablets, upon which he had developed a dependence.”

“He immediately apologised to the person. We also worked closely with Pastor Brian to ensure he received professional help to eliminate his dependency on this medication, and this was achieved successfully,” Hillsong’s statement said.

According to Hillsong’s Global Board the second complaint was received in 2019 when Houston entered a woman’s hotel room after a Hillsong conference.

“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.

“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 said.

“Although all parts of the complaint were unable to be sustained, important elements of the complaint were sustained and the conduct was of serious concern,” the statement continued.

Houston had already temporarily stepped aside as Hillsong’s Global Pastor in January of this year, to “vigorously defend” against charges that he allegedly concealed the sex abuse of a young man in the 1970s.

Houston was charged last August with concealing child sex abuse by his late father, Frank Houston, an allegation he strenuously denied.

Houston is one of the most influential religious figures in Australia and a friend of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who regularly attends the Hillsong national conference, and gave the opening address at the event in 20


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