Pastor Brian Houston, the lead pastor of the global multisite Hillsong Church who was charged last month with allegedly concealing sex abuse committed by his father decades earlier, has said he is stepping down from his role on various church boards so that they can continue to “function to their fullest capacity.”
“I ... wanted to let you know that I’ve made a decision to step aside from my role on the Hillsong Church boards that oversee the governance of our operations,” Houston, the senior pastor of the Australia-based congregation, wrote in an email, according to The Roys Report.
“I did this so that these boards can function to their fullest capacity during this season. This doesn't change my role as Global Senior Pastor. I thought it was important to let our church family know in the interests of transparency, and I wanted you to hear it from me directly,” added the 67-year-old leader of the Sydney-based megachurch.
Police officials announced last month that Houston was being charged with “concealing child sex offenses,” The Associated Press reported at the time.
“Police will allege in court [that Houston] knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police,” stated Australian authorities, as quoted by the AP.
In a statement to The Christian Post through Hillsong, Houston expressed “shock” at the charges. “These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter,” Houston said. “I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.”
The church also provided a statement to CP, explaining that they were “disappointed that Pastor Brian has been charged, and asked that he be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process as is his right.”
“He has advised us that he will defend this and looks forward to clearing his name. Given that this matter is now before the court, neither Pastor Brian or Hillsong Church will be making further statements,” Hillsong added.
The probe into whether Houston tried to cover-up an incident in which his late father, Frank Houston, sexually abused a minor in the 1970s was initiated years ago. In 2014, in response to that probe, Houston denied knowing anything about the $10,000 compensation payment made to a man who his father sexually abused as a child.
Houston said he was “totally devastated” to learn about his father’s abuse and he “had to come to terms with the fact that the person I looked up to was not who I thought he was.”
After Houston was charged, his church said in a statement: “We ask that he be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process as is his right. He has advised us that he will defend this and looks forward to clearing his name. We thank all who are a part of our church for their support and prayers at this time.”
Recently, some serious leadership problems also surfaced at the United States-based Hillsong East Coast, especially regarding the financial and sexual scandals surrounding Carl Lentz, including an affair.
Other Hillsong resignations that followed Lentz included Darnell Barrett, creative director of Hillsong Church Montclair in New Jersey, and Reed and Jess Bogard from Hillsong Dallas, which has since closed.